Do you think of yourself as a confident person? Have you ever thought about what makes a person confident? It is interesting to me that it makes all the difference in the world when dealing with people where their confidence meter really lands. We’ve all been around people whose confidence meter went through the roof. They were so over-confident in themselves that they didn’t see any area of their life that needed to be improved and nothing about themselves that needed to grow or change. If you are like me when you are around someone like that you long to get away from them as quickly as possible and hope to never have to be around them again. I remember a time when I was in the Real Estate business and was interviewing people to hire. One person came in that I’ve had trouble forgetting. I think they were the most over-confident person I’ve ever been around. This person was dead sure they could sell anything and would have a hundred listings of property within the first three months. The more they talked about how great they were and how well they understood the market and that they could sell anything they wanted to, the more convinced I became that I didn’t want any part of having this person around. Needless to say, they were totally shocked when I told them “Don’t call me, I’ll call you if I want to talk anymore.” Like most people with such an abundance of confidence, they did get a job selling real-estate but didn’t last even for a year. Of course, it wasn’t their fault they couldn’t sell but the market, their company and the people they had to work with.
But, we’ve all seen tons of others whose confidence meter is so low that it hardly gets off the bottom to even move. They really don’t believe they can do anything right. They’ve been told their whole lives how they can’t do anything right and they have come to believe it. Unless something happens to turn them around they will never be able to accomplish much of anything.
One of the greatest challenges we face as parents is to develop in our children a sense of confidence that they can do things right, learn the things they need to learn and do the things they need to do, without giving them over-confidence that leads them to believe they already know everything and don’t need any help or training to do better. That balance that is there that makes one see that they have abilities, but need help to grow all the time and need correction when they mess up is extremely valuable.
In Philippians 1:6 Paul laid down a huge principle on the topic of confidence that makes all the difference in getting our mindset right. It was in the middle of a prayer. Look at the whole prayer. “I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, BEING CONFIDENT of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Self-confidence is important. God confidence is vital. God confidence keeps our balance right all the time.
Compare the difference between Self confidence and God confidence. In Luke 18:9-14 Jesus told the story of a Pharisee and a tax collector who went down to the temple to pray. Luke tells us Jesus told the parable to some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else. The Pharisee prayed, standing by himself. “God, I thank you that I am not like other people – robbers, evil-doers, adulterers – or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.” On the other hand the poor tax collector stood at a distance and wouldn’t even look up. He beat his breast and said, “God, be merciful to me a sinner.” What is amazing is that Jesus said it was the tax collector that went home justified while the self-righteous, ungodly Pharisee went home believing he didn’t need any justification.
God wants us to believe in our abilities when we have Him working with us and through us to accomplish the good works he wants us to accomplish. He began a good work in us at the point of our devoting our lives to him. He will continue to work in and through us as long as we live upon this earth. He has work and a plan that he wants us to accomplish. Paul demonstrated the essence of this God-confidence in chapter 4 and verse 13 in Philippians when he declared, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” Interestingly the topic that led to this declaration was learning to be content in whatever situation he faced. It is a massive challenge to be content during the good and bad times alike. What a huge difference it is between simply believing “I can do all things” and “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.”
It is important with this point to notice one other verse in Philippians that ties it all together. In chapter two, verses 12-13 Paul challenged the Philippians to work out their own salvation with fear and trembling. If he had stopped with that statement it would have left us discouraged. How can we work out our salvation? It would actually be better understood as “Give your salvation a workout” since they were already saved, people. But even that would be tough if he didn’t go ahead to say, “for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.” We have work to do. But we don’t work alone. God is constantly working in us and through us to accomplish his purpose. It should give us tremendous confidence knowing we aren’t alone and that God of heaven is at work in us regularly.