Authored by Dia
Confidence. When you hear this word, what other words come to mind? Self-assurance? Boldness? Self-reliance? Trust? A few definitions of the word confidence are “freedom from doubt; belief in oneself and one’s abilities; and the feeling of trust in someone or something.”(1)
When I was growing up, I knew a family of six brothers and sisters. I was impressed by them because they were so unconcerned about being part of the “in group” or wearing the latest style; to me they seemed secure and unafraid of failure.
Each of the six had his or her own personality, but all possessed one similar quality, a quality that I grew to greatly admire. It was a certain peace, a security or naturalness—in short, it was confidence. This confidence wasn’t from individual brilliance, athletic ability, or good looks—they were actually pretty average in each of those categories—so I was interested in where it came from.
One day an unexpected opportunity came to discover the true source of their confidence. The family moved into a house just across the block from ours. Now, instead of only seeing them at school, I saw them in my neighborhood, and the secret was revealed! Within their home, acceptance and trust were generously shared between parents and children, and that inspired confidence in each person.
It’s no wonder that confidence would spring from a trusting and accepting environment. Interestingly, the root word of confidence is confide. In order to confide in someone, there has to be trust. When two people share a mutual trust and acceptance of each other, the result is confidence—confidence in the other person and confidence in oneself.
Think of one of your closest friendships, the one where you can tell that person a secret and you know without a doubt that he won’t tell it to someone else. Or a friendship where you know all the quirks and funny things about the other person, and know she knows all those same things about you, and yet you both like each other just as you are and feel comfortable when you’re together. That trust and acceptance breeds confidence. In the first scenario you have confidence in the other person because of the trust you share, and in the second scenario you have confidence in yourself, because of the other person’s acceptance of you.
This is the same type of relationship that we can have with Jesus, where we joy in His acceptance of us, and we in turn trust Him with ourselves—our desires, our requests, our concerns, our needs. In that mutual trust and acceptance, we gain confidence, both in who He is and also in who He has made us to be. Through belief in God and in His incredible power in us and love for us, we can also believe in ourselves and in our ability to succeed, our value as individuals, our gifts and what we have to offer others, and the fact that we are worthy of love. Because God created us and lives within us, we can be confident both in Him and in ourselves.
When researching the biblical use and the origins of the word we now read as confidence, I came across the Hebrew word used for faith, which is interestingly connected.
In the Hebrew Old Testament, the verb batach is used to imply “putting one’s trust in” something or someone in order to be “full of confidence” or to “feel safe.” For example, in Psalm 56:3 David says, “Whenever I am afraid, I will batach—or trust—in You.”(2) And in Isaiah 12:2, it says, “God is my salvation, I will batach—trust—and not be afraid.”(3)
The Bible also gives good counsel on where we should be careful to not place our trust, because those things won’t result in confidence. For example, the Bible says that confidence is not to be found ultimately in human strength. The person who puts his confidence only in his own resources—such as his abilities or his wisdom—will be sorely disappointed. Solomon declared: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.”(4)
Of course, it is good to improve your skills or talents, as doing so can help to boost your confidence. When you learn to do something proficiently, you gain confidence in that area. Or when you study and discover more about a certain topic, you can speak more confidently about it because you are knowledgeable. Those are good things to do that help you gain confidence. But the point the Bible is making is that those things shouldn’t be your only source of confidence—the only thing you rely on in order to be confident. And why is that? Because you, me, we, as humans, are frail. We’re bound to make mistakes, to mess up, to get sick, to forget, and if our ability to be confident was fully reliant on us being awesome, when we’re not awesome for whatever reason, our confidence will take a hit.
Let’s say you score badly on a test that you thought you would ace. This makes you feel a little less smart, so your confidence level drops. Or, when you’re talking to someone you like, you get nervous and end up making a fool of yourself, and your confidence level drops. You can see that if you were your only source of confidence, then you’d experience frequent falls in your ability to be confident.
The Bible also warns us of the danger of the pursuit of money as one’s source of confidence. I know it’s easy to think, “Gee, if I only had this much money, or if I was as rich as so-and-so, then I’d feel so much better about myself. I’d feel confident no matter where I went or who I was talking to.” Well, money is not a sure thing. One day you have it and the next day you might not. It’s subject to ruin, thievery, decay, and more. Solomon wisely warned: “He who trusts in his riches will fall; but the righteous will thrive like a green leaf.”(5)
The Bible even warns against putting your trust in people above trusting in God, and particularly about putting your trust in the wrong people. Good people are worthy of your confidence. Demonstrating to a person that you have confidence in him or her can be a great source of encouragement. Demonstrating confidence in others is a wonderful boost to their spirit. However, trusting people to the point that you feel it’s unnecessary to trust God, or that you neglect to trust God, that’s where it becomes dangerous. King David said: “It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man.”(6) And in the next verse he said that it is better to trust the Lord than to put confidence in princes.
Putting your trust in the wrong person can have bad results. It says in Proverbs: “Putting confidence in an unreliable person in times of trouble is like chewing with a broken tooth or walking on a lame foot.”(7)
The ultimate object of reliable confidence is God. Our own strength or wisdom or abilities, money, and other humans will fall short; only God will not. Paul once said, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”(8) We can have confidence to be anything or do anything that God asks of us, because He can be or do anything through us.
I had a favorite teacher in school, a man whose every move transmitted both joy and confidence in himself and in all those he came in contact with.
He couldn’t sing or speak well. In fact, he seemed to have few abilities, yet he always seemed confident in his abilities—not in a cocky or overbearing way, but in a more quiet belief that he could discuss anything and do anything.
One day I asked him what the source of his confidence was. He said there were two elements. The first was his faith and his belief in God.
“What is the second element?” I asked.
“Well,” he said, “it’s like the great craftsman who made the finest violins in the world, Stradivari, used to say: ‘God can’t make a Stradivarius without Antonio Stradivari.’ I have certain gifts that God has led me to discover about myself, and I am sufficiently confident in these gifts.”
His joy derived from his confidence, and his confidence was a combination of faith and the personal gifts he had discovered. I realized that everyone can have both; no one is excluded from faith, and no one is without particular gifts.
Here’s a story that I want to share with you:
A speaker started off his seminar by holding up a 20 dollar bill in the room of two hundred people. He asked, “Who would like this 20 dollar bill?” Hands started going up. The speaker said, “I am going to give this bill to one of you, but first, let me do this.” He proceeded to crumple up the 20 dollar bill. He then asked, “Who still wants it?” Still hands went up in the air.
“Well, what if I do this?” He dropped it on the ground and started to grind it into the floor with his shoe. He picked it up, now crumpled and dirty and asked, “Now who wants it?” Still hands went up into the air. No matter what was done to the money, it was still wanted because it did not decrease in value. It was still worth 20 dollars.(9)
At times in our lives, we are dropped, crumpled, and ground into the dirt by decisions we make or the way we are treated by others. We might feel as though we are worthless, but no matter what has happened or will happen, we will never lose our value: dirty or clean, crumpled or uncreased, we are priceless because God created us and loves us.
Jesus desires that you place your confidence in Him. Proverbs 3:26 says, “The Lord will be your confidence.”(10)
As you put your trust in Jesus and learn to accept His love for you, you can grow in confidence. While it is a magic formula—“Trust God, gain confidence”—it isn’t necessarily an instant formula. It can take time to learn to accept God’s complete and perfect love for you and acceptance of you. As you determine to give God a chance to show you how much He loves you, to open your heart to accept His design of you even if there are things about yourself that you’re not so pleased with, and as you also work alongside Him by nurturing your talents and pursuing your interests, you will grow in confidence—both in God and in yourself.
Here’s a beautiful promise given to those who put their confidence in God: “Blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.”(11)
2 New International Version.
3 New International Version.
4 Proverbs 3:5–6 NLT.
5 Proverbs 11:28 NIV.
6 Psalm 118:8 KJV.
7 Proverbs 25:19 NLT.
8 Philippians 4:13 NKJV.
9 Author Unknown.
10 New King James Version.
11 Jeremiah 17:7–8 NIV.
Music by sindustry(CC). Copyright © 2011 by The Family International