“God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”
2 Timothy 1:7 NKJV
In the early spring when the hills are green and the flowers are blooming, there is nothing better than taking a mountain bike ride. The only “down side” is that early spring includes cold mornings, which means I have to layer up clothes if I don’t want to freeze. There are days when I’m tempted to leave my down vest on before I head out, but I know I’ll regret it later. As my body adjusts to the air and my muscles warm up, I begin to peel off the layers one by one. There is nothing worse than being out on the trail encumbered with a bunch of gear that I no longer need.
This is a bit like the difference between placing confidence in us and placing confidence in God. Just like my layers of clothing on a cold bike ride, we layer ourselves up with things on the outside, hoping they will make us feel complete on the inside. Starting in childhood and moving into adulthood, we learn to base our confidence on grades, awards, activities, social connections, appearance, athletic ability and other skills. As long as we “show well,” we feel good about ourselves. However, this is an exhausting cycle to maintain. Someone is always just a little better or has achieved just a little more. Even great friendships can have rough patches that leave us feeling vulnerable and uncertain. There is nothing inherently “wrong” with the things I’ve listed, but if we pursue them to feel good about ourselves, they become layers we pile on that only bog us down. Self-confidence proves to be elusive, like catching a slippery fish in our hands only to have it wriggle out and swim away.
In contrast, Lysa TerKeurst coins the term “God- confidence,” which is like the warmth that comes from inside me once I get going on my ride. It is what causes me to peel off protective layers and expose myself to the elements because my heat source is coming from my interior instead of being piled on my exterior. Much the same, God- confidence is not dependent upon our circumstances, achievements or approval from other people. It is something we can carry inside of us at all times when we claim Jesus as our Lord and Savior.
Self-confidence says: “I look good enough to walk in that door and impress people.”
God confidence says: “I am loved enough by God to walk in that door and show kindness to others.”
Self-confidence says: “I’m smart enough and well-educated enough to carry on a conversation with this group.”
God-confidence says: “I know the truth of who I am in Christ, He will give me the words to say in this situation.”
Self-confidence says: “I’m willing to say, ‘yes’ because this is comfortable and safe, I’ve done it before and I know I’m good at it.”
God-confidence says: “This is beyond me, but I am going to trust God to lead me and equip me according to His plans.”
Self-confidence says: “I’m acceptable because I’m included in the group. Because other people validate me, I know I’m worth something.”
God-confidence says: “Whether people include me or not will not shake my confidence. I’m at peace knowing that God loves me, whether I’m overlooked or included by people”
Self-confidence says: “Life is good because circumstances are situated in my favor.”
God-confidence says: “Whether my circumstances are good or bad, I trust that God is in control.”
Self-confidence may falter when:
-The “perfect outfit” we bought a few years ago suddenly seems dated
-We gain a few pounds
-A person we love doesn’t seem to have time for us
-We hear about a gathering and we weren’t included
-People rave about the person who was filling in for something we usually do
-An illness or injury keeps us from our usual activities
-We aren’t receiving as much affirmation as we’d like
-Our social schedule isn’t full
-Our social media “friends” seem to take better vacations, have cuter kids, and do more “cool” stuff than our families
-Our accomplishments or achievements pale in comparison to someone else’s
-We make a huge mistake
-We’re not “up” on the latest news/technology/fashion/music/trends
-We compare ourselves to others
-No one notices when we’re gone or welcomes us when we return
God-confidence may falter when:
-We take our eyes off Him
-We focus on our problems and let them magnify
-We look to other people to reassure us, fill us up or give us approval
-We focus on our exteriors instead of our interiors
-We let a difficult situation breed stress in us
-We can’t trust God with things we don’t understand
Being God-confident doesn’t mean we’ll always feel great about ourselves, but we’ll know that we have a God who loves us and will never leave us. It means trusting Him to give us the power we need instead of trying to conjure it up on our own. God-confidence leaves us unencumbered by the things that might otherwise weigh us down. We can walk confidently not because of who we are or what we’ve done, but because of who God is and what Jesus did for us on the cross.
I love the way Lysa TerKeurst describes this God-confidence in What Happens When Women Say “Yes” to God: “This is the way God wants me to dance through life…In my mind’s eye He is there. The touch of His gaze wraps about me, comforts me, assures me, and makes the world seem strangely dim. As long as my gaze is locked on his, I dance and he smiles. The snickers and jeers of others fade away. Though I hear their razor sharp intentions, they are unable to pierce my heart and distract my focus. Even my own stumblings don’t cause the same feelings of defeat. My steps so often betray the desire of my heart, but it is not my perfect performance that captures His attention. Rather, it is my complete dependence on Him that He notices” (pp. 88-89).
When we place our confidence in God, there should be no reason for insecurity, fear or feelings of inadequacy. If Christ lives in us, we already have everything we need, it is just a matter of believing it to be true and then living with our gaze fixed on Him.
“My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken” (Psalm 62:1-2)
One way I find perspective when I’ve drifted from God-confidence is to listen to great music. Click on the links below to hear two songs that help me regain my focus: “We Won’t be Shaken” by Building 429 and “Strangely Dim” by Francesca Battistelli.