Confidence can be an elusive creature. One minute you have it. The next minute it’s gone. It’s remarkable how small of a stone it takes to shatter confidence and leave a person in a desperate state of questioning everything.
I’ve been there too many times to count. As a church pastor, my views, beliefs, and even my faults are on display for everyone to see. Not to mention, I’m an active user of social media which exposes me to countless more people. Needless to say, there are plenty of eyes on me and plenty of mouths to speak up and destroy my confidence in an instant.
The greatest failure is not trying at all
Remember when Peter attempted to walk on water (Matthew 14:22-32)? From the boat, he saw Jesus walking across the sea and asked to join him. Jesus said to Peter, “Come.” Peter managed to stay afloat for a moment, but soon the boisterous wind distracted him and he began to sink. Jesus caught him and asked, “O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?”
Was Peter a failure? I would say yes and no. In that moment, he did lose faith in Christ and began to doubt. Yes, he failed. But what about those who never got off of the boat? Who was the greater failure? Peter or the men that never trusted in the power of Christ enough to even attempt to walk on water? Perhaps we don’t give Peter enough credit.
We don’t need insecure pride
Often insecurity leads to pride. When we are not confident in our God-given gifts, we compensate by fooling ourselves into believing we are better than we are. We sometimes become very outspoken and strongly opinionated in order to seem confident. Sometimes we become quiet because we fear being wrong or getting criticized. Almost always we become bitter.
We don’t need insecure pride. This might be what the world calls confidence, but it’s not what the Bible teaches. We’re not to be confident in ourselves (Proverbs 26:12). We’re to be confident in Christ (2 Corinthians 1:9).
What we need is humble confidence
Humble confidence may seem like a paradox but it’s not in the kingdom of God. We must decrease in order for God to increase in our lives (John 3:30). We have absolutely no reason to be confident in ourselves (Romans 3:10-18). But we do have every reason to be confident in God and in the gifts and graces he gives to us (Philippians 1:20).
As we humble ourselves to God and his will, we can become more bold and more confident. Peter’s mistake on the sea was not doubting his own abilities. Rather, he doubted in the Lord’s ability to keep him safe and afloat.
We ought to obey God rather than men
Sometimes our confidence gets shattered, not because we’ve truly failed, but simply because someone’s unbridled tongue chose us as a target (James 1:26). Even when dissenters happen to have less-than-pure intentions, it’s still a hard thing to shake.
As disciples of Christ seeking to walk in righteousness and serve God to the best of our abilities, it does not matter what anyone thinks or says about us (Acts 5:29). It may not be easy, but we have to let it go when criticism comes our way. When the apostles were sent out to preach, Jesus told them what to do when they were rejected. He told them to leave and shake the dust off of their feet as they go (Matthew 10:14). It’s never wise to strike back (Proverbs 26:4).
Failures and criticisms are inevitable. Whatever might hinder our confidence, we have to remember that if we are truly striving to walk by faith and do what is right, the Lord will always provide us with the strength we need (Philippians 4:13). In practical terms, we must always turn to him (Psalm 55:22) and continue in our service (Galatians 6:9).