I had to laugh. I was walking the labyrinth in the Chartres Cathedral today, looking for inspiration and peace. I was trying to get motivated to write this week’s web article on self-confidence. Instead, I just felt anxious about whether or not I really had anything worth saying!
Whenever I lack self-confidence like this, or become overly self-conscious, I freeze up or become horribly awkward. I’m afraid I won’t be clever, interesting or original enough, and you won’t keep reading or won’t respect me. So, I procrastinate.
This kind of paralyzing self-consciousness and lack of self-confidence is widespread in my experience. Many of my clients, students, and friends wrestle with these same issues in their own ways.
As I see it, the root cause of the problem is often fear. Fear of failure, fear of rejection, fear of looking foolish, fear of what others may be thinking or feeling about us. Our confidence falters, and we hesitate to put ourselves forward.
Sometimes, we have the opposite problem, too. Driven by pride, we become determined to prove our worth or superiority to others—or to ourselves. We may accomplish a lot, but too often the end result is more about us, and less about God.
At the same time, pride can be the cause of a low self-image and our feeling badly ourselves. It works like this: When we can’t do something as well as we’d like, our pride can’t bear the thought of our “losing” or “not measuring up.” So we mope about or feel embarrassed over our shortcomings and failures, and stop trying.
Either way—puffed up into self-serving overdrive or deflated into self-defeating underdrive—we can easily become too pre-occupied with Self.
What’s needed is a shift in our focus. We need to move from being so self-conscious (worrying about our performance or what others might be thinking about us) to being more God-conscious (focusing on what God wants for our lives and how the Holy Spirit works through imperfect mortals to bless others).
And what a difference it makes! When I become more God-confident at least 5 things happen:
1) I remember to base my self-image first and foremost on how God looks at me (I am loved, valued, cherished, and forgiven; and have purpose in life), and on what God will do through me (not on what others think of me).
2) I ask God how I may best serve Christ’s purposes today and meet the needs of those God brings into my life (rather than on what I might get out of my efforts).
3) I stop procrastinating, because I know I have important work to do in the name of Jesus that stems from God’s calling and will (rather than waiting until I feel like getting started or I am certain of “success”).
4) I work hard to offer my best to God, because I feel so grateful to be loved by God and eager to be part of whatever the Holy Spirit is doing.
5) I make a conscious decision to trust that God will do good things through me, because that’s how God works when we obey the Spirit’s promptings and use our spiritual gifts to serve others.
In short, focusing on self either keeps us from getting to the work God has for us to do, or distorts our motivation and message by bringing glory to ourselves instead of God. Focusing on God makes our confidence soar, and motivates us to get going with the good work God has for us to do—today!
“For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:10, NIV)
The Point: Are you tired of getting all tangled up in yourself? Stop thinking so much about what others are thinking about you and being so afraid. Have more confidence in God’s work in you and through you, and get going with what you know you need to be doing.