Confidence – who needs it? We all do! And plenty of it. Like popcorn with salt, everything goes better with confidence. But where do we go to get it? In The Sound of Music, Julie Andrews as Maria is the spokesperson for popular culture when she sings: “I have confidence in confidence alone, and as you can see, I have confidence in me!” That’s what we want to be – optimistic people brimming with self-confidence. But before we all join in and sing a chorus or two, let’s stop to consider what she is basing her confidence upon – first, it’s a mental trick; second, it’s our old archenemy “self.”
Don’t get me wrong. I want to be filled to over-flowing with confidence on the inside of me. I’m just very wary of putting my confidence in me. In a pinch I might reach for anything to prop up my flagging confidence, even the latest good report about myself. But when the chips are down, you’d better make sure you know how to get your confidence from something that’s rock solid, or you’ll go down with the false props you’ve been leaning on. That would be mental tricks or counterfeit deities, like self. Let’s take them one at a time.
True Confidence or Mental Trick?
Mental tricks are those things we say to ourselves, or those things we do, to prop up our confidence. Just as Maria sings, it will work at times to have confidence in confidence. Just act confident and a more confident version of yourself will usually show up. I know one timid preacher who would get his confidence up by imagining that everyone he was speaking to was as naked as he was feeling. Another camouflaged his anxiety by telling lots of jokes. All this is just bluff and bluster. Inevitably, there are appalling times when it comes crashing down. (Trust me, I know!)
In the end, pretending to be confident isn’t good enough. You have to BE confident. Since I need confidence for all that I do, the shortest path is to make myself the source and reason for my confidence. The obvious answer seems to be just what Maria sings: “I’ll make them see I have confidence in me!” Think of the self-esteem movement launched in our schools to build up children’s confidence so that they can be better learners and enjoy a healthier life.
Check the Foundation–It’s Cracked!
Why can’t I have confidence in me? Certainly, low self-esteem is disastrous. But so is high self-esteem. That’s pride, isn’t it? The great problem with pride is that it always leads a person away from God. Another problem is that if I’m trying to base my hope and confidence upon me, I will always find things about me I can’t draw confidence from – weaknesses, failures, sins – and this turns me against me, or worse, makes me blind to my real self. Pride separates us from God and blinds us to ourselves. That’s a pretty shabby “solution” to the problem!
Jesus throws a wrecking ball into all these misguided attempts to base our confidence on something other than Himself. He says, “Apart from Me you can do nothing.” He inspired Paul to say, “I know that in me dwells no good thing.” These aren’t self-esteem builders! Instead we are to put ALL of our hope and confidence in our ever-present Lord who is an ocean of love and power, waiting and wanting to help us with any need. As the old hymn reminds us: “My hope (confidence) is built on nothing less than Jesus Blood and righteousness. I dare not trust the sweetest frame (mental tricks/self), but wholly lean on Jesus’ Name.”
This leaves me wondering when I see so many people heading the wrong way, trying to build their lives on the “sand” of self, rather than the rock of who Jesus is and what He has done for us. Do we have no confidence in the way of faith that we have been given? Let’s pray: “Oh Lord, I need confidence in me, but I want it to come from confidence in Thee!”
For more on the way of faith, see “The Power of Believing” at our website for healing.