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Confidence

A friend at work a few years ago, in a moment of vulnerability, told me he didn't have much confidence in life, which consequently did not help with the difficult women in and around Los Angeles. Feeling that I myself have spent most of my life without much confidence, I felt a bit at a loss as to what I should say. I vowed to him that I would research the topic and get back to him -- this is what I found.
There are two things I feel pretty confident in: writing and music. I asked myself why and there are two reasons I've come up with: I have done them a lot, and people have told me I am good at them. I think experience most definitely plays a big part in confidence, but I think it's pertinent to focus on the latter reason -- affirmation.
Confidence is a social concept. Sure, you can be confident at woodworking or making Excel spreadsheets or other potentially solitary endeavors; but I think confidence in the most widely used sense has a connotation of performance. And in that way, a large part of confidence must be imparted from someone else.
I can play drums with strangers on stage and feel relatively comfortable because several people have told me I am a good drummer. I am happy to share this blog because many people have told me I am a good writer and it has benefitted them. I feel confident in these two tasks because others told me I am capable and competent in them, and somewhere along the line I started believing them.
So whose job is it to tell us we're good at things? Our family's? Friends'? Facebook or YouTube's? And is it okay to depend on others for that confidence?


Me in Minus the Standard, confident enough to play a flying-V. (2002)
I struggle with this because I have really taken hold of those two areas of my life with said confidence, knowing the reasons behind it. And yet, I know that my confidence and affirmation are supposed to come from God, not from people.
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Such confidence we have through Christ before God. Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. (2 Corinthians 3:4-5)
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So why do I look to others to build my confidence, and if I find it there, is it okay to go along with it? I remember watching the Olympics a couple years ago and some high-divers did really well. In their after-interviews, they told the news that their coach continually reminded them that, no matter how they performed, their identity was in Christ. Consequently, they were able to perform quite well, the heavy weight of purpose in performance having been lifted before they dove. It was a powerful statement and certainly pertinent to our personal and professional lives.

I think finding confidence in others can be beneficial, but a more powerful and farther lasting source is in Christ. People are fleeting and some may affirm you while others, even those you respect, may do the opposite. However, a God who does not change and has given you a word, personally and/or through the bible, is a far more worthy confidant, and will take you through heftier trials as they come.


Katie and I find ourselves telling our girls this next bible verse a lot lately, and we're hoping it sticks, because we want them to know the truth in just how powerful our source of strength and confidence is:

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I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13)
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And here are a few more, just for encouragement:
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But blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in him. (Jeremiah 17:7)

Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God. (Psalm 20:7)

The LORD's justice will dwell in the desert, his righteousness live in the fertile field. The fruit of that righteousness will be peace; its effect will be quietness and confidence forever. (Isaiah 32:16-17) 

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