One of the easiest things to do with learning self-confidence is to miss the point. We can become arrogant in our new-found confidence, telling ourselves we’re better than those who have just offended us because we’re confident now. Or we can have a lapse back into low self-confidence and get angry with ourselves for failing to improve. Or we can be disappointed that we still feel the need for love and respect.
Let’s deal with each of these in turn. For the former, if you ever believe you’re better than anyone else, you’ve entirely missed the point of Christian self-confidence. The world’s definition of confidence is, practically by definition, competitive. It’s a zero-sum game. In other words, if you are confident, the world says you will be successful. The problem is two-fold: 1. The value of your confidence becomes based on your achievement of success, so that if you never succeed, your confidence means nothing, and 2. Success is a relative term. For you to be successful means that others will not have achieved as much. Nobody counts themselves a success because they were able to tie their shoes in the morning because nearly everybody can. Being a success is more often defined as getting that big promotion or finding someone really hot to be with because few people have these things. For you to win thus means that others lose. Thus, the world’s definition of confidence breeds competition, with each person trying to prove they’re better than the next.
Christian confidence begins with a revolutionary concept: you’re worthless in and of yourself. You can’t earn your way into any real value, either. The first reason is that you are so far below God that there’s not a valid comparison I can make. Even comparing an ant to the Milky Way Galaxy gives too much credit to you. Second, you have broken His laws by choosing yourself over Him. Every time you do something He tells you not to do or judge someone else or Him, you sin, and just one sin makes you worthy of everlasting punishment.
Thankfully, the story doesn’t end there. Jesus knew the mess we were in and died to save us from it. We can’t earn this grace (how could we possibly earn the death of an innocent man to save us, let alone the Son of God?), yet it is offered to us freely. All we need do is believe in Him.
Because we have no value of our own, all the value we have comes from God’s valuing of us. And He loves us all equally. Jesus died to save Jew and Gentile, rich and poor, sick and healthy, everyone who would believe. This means that you, like everyone else, is worthless without Him and extraordinarily valuable with Him, equal with everyone both ways. Thus, your confidence isn’t about being better than anyone else, but about being more valuable through Christ than any achievement, possession, or relationship on this earth could make you.
Additionally, this is not a zero-sum game, but an infinite-sum one. Because you can’t do anything to improve or decrease your value to God and your value is equal to that of everyone else, there is no reason to compete with others for recognition or value from people. Both their value and yours are the same whether either of you sees it or not. Thus, since most of our hurts to each other come from a desire to show ourselves as better, it is in both your best interests and theirs to show people their true value, that they may not have to strive against you trying to prove their worth. Your value is not diminished by them knowing theirs; rather, both of your lives are improved.
You lose all of this if you start thinking your confidence makes you better than someone else. Worse, you make your knowledge of your value in God a tool to be used to prove yourself to others, rather than something to be grateful for. God didn’t die so you could lift yourself up above others, but that you could come to Him and lift others up with you.
One last aspect of this is that if you feel you’re better than someone else, unforgiveness will be present in your life. It is impossible to be angry for very long with someone you see as your equal. There must be pride for there to be a grudge, but a grudge is an unavoidable symptom of pride. Get rid of your pride, remember that you’re equal with everyone else (just as fallen and just as valuable because of Christ’s sacrifice), and you’ll find these grudges disappearing.
Next time, we’ll go into beating ourselves up for failing to become more confident.