The role of confidence in life is highly contested and debated. For Christians, we say it is a worldly attribute, a mix perhaps of misplaced ego, self-confidence, really just a version, perhaps milder, of braggadocio. But we need some confidence, when all is said and done. We need confidence based on a right reading of our abilities, exercised in the context of Christian humility, and thinking better of others, as the bible commands.
Earlier this week I listened to a podcast from the Ligonier Interview Archives, featuring R.C. Sproul, Dr. Stephen Nicols. and Lee Webb. The title was "Confident Christians." I agree with the entire premise, that we must derive our confidence as Christians from God's promises and plans. That is what the interview was about, mostly.
But RC Sproul, in his opening remarks on the above, makes a statement we'll come to shortly. Let me first say that confidence is not one of my personal attributes. I can be arrogant, self-righteouss and the rest of it. I can, in a given situation, think I know best. But this is not self-confidence. It is usually a mask for lack of. That's why self-confidence and the trait of confidence generally is one of interest to me, and caught my ear when I heard Sproul say the following:
"...as a former sportscaster and all that, I think that confidence is so critical to performance in any realm of life, but particularly evidence in the athletic world and you wonder how significant coaches may be and what import they bring to the performance of a team. And I really believe the single most important thing that a coach brings or a manager brings to an athletic team is the ability to destroy or instill confidence. Because I am convinced and have been for many many years that self-confidence is not something that happens to us magically but it actually is a result of somebody else showing confidence in us and having the ability to generate or instill what we call self-confidence. Self-confidence is then dependent on someone else's prior confidence." (For the full podcast, click here.)
Those words stood out to me. I played it over and over (especially this morning, trying to get it typed out). When others have confidence in us, we can at least assume they have a right assessment of our abilities or talents. They have the benefit of distance, or perspective. Getting perspective from ourselves is a challenge. Others can still be wrong, and think we can do things we can not. But having the confidence of others in giftings or abilities we have - even if we know we have those capacities - is powerful. I perform best when I know someone is believing in me.
Our greatest problems remain theological, he reminds us. He goes on from the above statement to talk about the confidence we can have as Christians in God's prior confidence in us. The thesis is central, that we can have assurance of salvation, he says. That assurance comes from God, and he is the ground of our confidence. If we look first to ourselves he says, we have a shaky premise on which to stand. But if we look to God, and ground ourselves in his word/truth, we are firm, and confident.
(Two) great truths to reflect on this weekend.
And don't forget the podcast above (and Nicols has a new book out as well, click here).
Derek Butler - I am a Christian, husband, father, son, brother, friend, reader, et al, all inadequately. This blog is a tool to encourage daily bible reading, for myself and others.
Click above to access the 5 Day Reading Plan used here. I am using the 5 readings Monday through Friday, with other postings on topics of interest Saturdays and Sundays.
Some Favorite Sites
Desiring God Ministries
Bible Design Blog
Calvary Baptist Church