“The secret of making dreams come true can be summarized in four C’s. They are Curiosity, Confidence, Courage, and Constancy; and the greatest of these is Confidence.” – Walt Disney
How important is Confidence?
The year was 1987. I was in the Florida Keys aboard a dive boat leaving the canal on Old Highway, MM 90.5 in Tavernier. My stomach was churning. Seated to my right was a 747 commercial airline pilot. To my left (oddly enough) was his girlfriend, an attractive stewardess. Having just completed scuba training school, we were heading out to the reef for our final check out dives. It was January and the water was quite choppy. The tiny ship was tossed. So were my cookies – thankfully over the side. There I was; grasping the starboard rail (like the horns of the ancient alter) and watching the “professional” airline pilot joining me in the mal de mar (seasickness). I prayed, “Oh God, have mercy on me and please never let me be aboard one of this pilots flights when the plane hits heavy turbulence.”
So, (aside from the nausea) how did I really feel that day? I was definitely enthusiastic about the dive. But, I was also full of doubt, fear, hesitation and uncertainty. After all, I had never done this before.
Did I have the basic skill-set necessary to function as a scuba diver? Yes. Was I ready to move from the theoretical to the practical? Again, yes. So, why the agita? (Italian-American slang derived from the Italian “agitare” meaning “to agitate.”) Because, I was suffering from a lack of confidence.
Have you ever felt that a lack of confidence was holding you back from living up to your true potential? Are you afraid to take a “step of faith” because you don’t believe that you have “what it takes”?
Welcome aboard wayfarer. You are not alone.
Okay, in the scuba example, my lack of confidence could be blamed on a want of experience. But it seems to me that from the cradle to the grave, we are taught to embrace external sources for validation. As a result, we often hang our self-worth on the approval of other people. The resulting “confidence crisis” can stifle our true potential.
There once was a child who did not speak until he was four years old and he did not read until he was seven. His teachers were convinced that he was mentally handicapped, and anti-social (he had extraordinary temper tantrums.) In the end, he was expelled from school. When he took the entrance examination for a polytechnic school in Zurich, Switzerland, he flunked everything but the math. He did eventually win admittance to the University only to graduate and not get a teaching position because no professor would recommend him. In fact, the only job he was able to get after graduation was an entry-level position with the government. (Uh, no comment.)
Who was this poor child and whatever become of him? His name was Albert Einstein. Need I say more? It seems that no one recognized all the potential within him. Einstein could have given up, but thankfully he had the confidence necessary to persevere.
People who live without confidence will always fall short of their potential. When you do not believe that something is possible, you will seldom take the steps required to attain it. For example, you may dream of being a great musician one day. But, if you don’t believe it is possible, you will never be willing to pay the price (lessons and endless hours of practice) to master an instrument. Or, you may desire to succeed in your own business. If you don’t believe in that possibility, you will never take the steps (and suffer the many sacrifices) required to build a prosperous enterprise.
People who go thru life without a healthy dose of confidence are often discouraged, perhaps a bit cynical and definitely unmotivated. Confidence affects our outlook on life and the way that we approach our work. When we suffer from an acute lack of confidence, we often need someone else to encourage us. The “encourager” may even need to prod, push and, ultimately show us the way past our fears into success.
Faith is a living, daring confidence in God’s grace, so sure and certain that a man could stake his life on it a thousand times.” — Martin Luther —
How does this apply to my Christian life?
Spiritual growth and fruitful Christianity develops as we gain confidence in the wisdom of the Liberator Jesus for our strength. In the process, his indwelling Spirit shows us the way to overcome our fears and doubts as we grow toward spiritual boldness.
You may desire to live a life that is acceptable to our creator, but if you have no confidence in his ability to help you “live holy as He is holy” (1 Peter 1:16), you won’t press on toward that goal. Remember this: Your (spiritual) state of affairs is always limited by what you truly believe. Put another way, you will only do what you believe (are confident) you can do.
God wants us to place absolute trust in Him for a reason. Trust builds our confidence in Him. When we have a strong faith in God, we have an assurance that enables us to move outside of our comfort zones. Our faith relationship with God helps to clarify what He wants from us (also known as being led by the Spirit).
We are learning to walk with God. Think about that. If we are walking with God, that means He also walks with us – every day of our lives. He is our “ever present help in time of need.” (Psalm 46:1) And, by the power of His Holy Spirit, God also wants to work through us as we walk together – especially when we are quick to respond to His instructions.
“Oh, how great peace and quietness would he possess who should cut off all vain anxiety and place all his confidence in God….” – Thomas Kempis
Confidence Rightly Placed
Secular culture credits a life of success to an abundance of self-confidence. The gurus of secularism say, “You can do it if you believe you can”. There is some limited truth to this, but it is not gospel truth, and sometimes that view point fails. Granted, humanity can and does achieve many amazing things here on spaceship earth aided by self-confidence and a positive self-image. The Bible however, does not tell us to simply believe in ourselves. It teaches us to believe in Almighty God and the Liberator Jesus – the one he sent to the earth. His Divine Spirit is our source of life itself. Look at this statement that Jesus made to his pupils,
“You must go on growing in me and I will grow in you. For just as the branch cannot bear any fruit unless it shares the life of the vine, so you can produce nothing unless you go on growing in me. I am the vine itself, you are the branches. It is the man who shares my life and whose life I share who proves fruitful. For the plain fact is that apart from me you can do nothing at all.” (John 15:4-5 – J.B. Phillips New Testament).
Christians believe this to be the absolute truth. According to the sacred texts of scripture, the incarnate one (Jesus) was, is, and ever shall be the sustainer of all things by the Word of His power (Hebrews 1:3). Remember: Apart from an intimate relationship with the Liberator Jesus, where you draw on His life force, you can do nothing of TRUE (eternal) value with your allotted life time.
What good is it if, armed with a positive self-image and great self-confidence, you achieve some measure of worldly success but MISS the purpose for which you were born into this temporary existence? Neither achieving great riches nor living in deep poverty has any bearing upon your eternal destiny. What will matter is how obedient you were to the otherworldly calling on your life. No one is going to come to the end of time as we know it, stand before the Almighty Creator and regret that he is calling them “a good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:21) – No one.
When it comes to following Jesus, self-confidence alone will ultimately fail us. Peter was so self-assured of his loyalty to Jesus that he said on the night our Redeemer was betrayed:
“Even if all are made to stumble, yet I will not!” and “If I have to die with You, I will not deny you!” (Mark 14:29, 31).
Peter spoke with great confidence – in himself that is – perhaps even boasting just a bit. When push came to shove, and Jesus was put on trial, Peter denied (with profanity) THREE TIMES that he even knew him at all. When the cock crowed, Peter went out and wept bitterly, utterly ashamed of his failure. His self-confident boasting vanished in the mists of fear and self-preservation.
Self-confidence alone will always fail us where it counts most – in the integrity of our walk with God. Verily, God will allow things to come up in your life which will shatter your self-confidence so that you will learn to put your absolute trust (confidence) in HIM first and never in yourself alone.
(TO BE CONTINUED NEXT WEEK)
Joseph A. Cerreta, PhD., is a noted author, broadcaster, a popular Bible teacher and a rabbid Coastal Junkie ®
For additional information write to: Coastal Life Ministries, P.O. Box 1283, New Port Richey, Florida 34656