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.
10 responses to “Self-Confident or God-Confident? (5 of 6)”
Do you ever have the feeling that you read what you should read at the right time? Meet whom you should meet etc.?
What I read this morning that you had written, was just what I needed to read.
I’m running a large Zone meeting for the Colonial Dames in April of 2011. I’m having a meering at my house this morning and I’m going into it thinking I have not done enough work….
Because of your article, I’m now going to go into it feeling God has chosen me to do his work and he will help me have the confidence to do what I have to do when I have to do it….the meeting will go just fine because God wants it to and I am willing to take ME outof the equation.
It was also nice for me to remember that walking the Chartres feels like. Last week I went to visit a friend recovering from surgery at Fairview Southdale Hospital. I had never been thee before and was very impressed with their Meditation Room on the 3rd floor….it has a labyrinth in stone on the floor!
Thanks for these thoughts, Tim. It’s an on-going battle, eh? The girls in my Bible study have been sharing how comparison is a huge enemy in this challenge to remaing God-confident rather than Self-confident. For me, Psalm 62:5-8 has become my “go to” reminder. God alone. We had a great time walking the labyrinth at your house last week. The girls really “showed up” in every sense and had a meaningful time with God.
This is what I needed to read today as we are about to to into Board meetings and face other more personal challenges. Thanks for this.
Ouch! This article hit me right between the eyes. This has been a battle for me for a long time. You put it into words perfectly! I look forward to processing this further with you at some time in the future. Safe & blessed travels to you!
Tim, This is a lesson I have to keep learning over and over – and it comes down to this: It’s not about me; it’s all about God. Another tool I use when anxiety about my ministry starts creeping in is, “Trust the gift.” God has given me gifts for certain things – and to question or doubt my abilities in those areas does not honor God. It’s another way to say, it’s not about me; it’s all about God. Lowering my expectations of perfection also helps – but seems to take a long time to learn.
Thanks for your encouragement. ksm
Another great post Tim!
While I’m not promoting procrastination when I saw Cuboro I immediately thought of you and Jill.
Thank you, Tim!
As always, you hit the mark. Our self image is based on how God looks at us. He does treasure us. We are loved with an unconditional love. This gives us a freedom to our life as we willingly want to serve others as Christ brings others into our lives. God has created each of us for a particular purpose and has given each of us our own gifts and talents that only we (individually) can accomplish for His kingdom. Thank you for reminding me today that God will do good things through me, No matter what the circumstances of my life may be, he will use me. I have to be the willing connection to allow Him to use me for His glory and His purpose. Eph 2:10 is the perfect verse for your thoughts.
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I really needed this. I’ve struggled with self-confidence for years and it has brought me anxiety because it made me feel like I wouldn’t measure up to anything, so why try? I don’t think I will ever have self-confidence. However, who needs that when you are God-confident? Fears are put to rest and peace settles in your heart. Thank you so much!