For those of you who’ve only known me a couple of years, it may surprise you to learn that I was sometimes quite shy as a kid. There’s nothing wrong with that when you’re a child: my parents always made me feel very loved, and I had a happy childhood with many fond memories that I’ll always reflect on with a huge smile on my face. There comes a time when you have to grow up, though. For me I think this process really accelerated when I started college, and even in the brief time I’ve been at uni so far I believe it’s continuing. I’m growing up, developing into a young man, hopefully the man God wants me to be.
Much of this is God transforming me and working inside me, removing the rubbish from inside me and replacing it with more of Him. Things I used to struggle with often come relatively easily to me now: starting a conversation with a stranger, for example, or speaking up in a seminar, and I know this greater level of boldness wouldn’t have happened without God.
The fact that the Holy Spirit, if you’ve let Him into your heart, can give you the words to say in challenging situations should naturally give you more courage too, and make you less fearful of saying something stupid. Also, remembering that your true identity is found in God rather than things the world offers has helped me become more sure of, and more comfortable with, the person that I am. Knowing that He’s created each one of us, breathing life into us and continually crafting and shaping us, is a great reminder of how special and valuable we are, as is the fact that he will always love us more deeply than we can comprehend.
There’s one thing I’ve not mentioned, though, and it’s dead important. A piece of advice that a good mate from church gave me a few years ago really resonated with me at the time and still does today. He said something along the lines of:
‘The most confident people are the ones who seem confident, even when they don’t feel it.’
Seems straightforward, doesn’t it? Making the effort to be outgoing and stimulate conversations even when you’re feeling a bit shy is what makes you confident, not some innate belief that you’re amazing (that’s called arrogance by the way!). Pushing past any initial feelings of uncomfortableness when you’re in a challenging situation or environment makes things a lot easier, and even if you don’t exactly feel fearless the chances are any awkwardness will soon disappear, or at least be masked by your apparent ease. The more you break past these limitations, the more naturally confidence comes to you too, and you genuinely do become more confident over time. And it really works! Both of us have had low self-esteem in the past, and while we don’t necessarily feel confident in every situation we’re in, we’re both much more outgoing people now, more secure in our own identities. Our increased boldness and self-assuredness are testimonies in themselves of how God’s working in our lives as I mentioned before, but ultimately the limitations that contain us are ones we impose on ourselves, so it’s up to you, with God’s help, to break through them.
One thing people often associate with confidence is arrogance, as I alluded to above, and this is defintiely something to watch out for. For me, though, realising that I can do immensely more with God than I can with my own strength prevents arrogance creeping in. Every now and then He’ll give me a little reminder of how true this is, but then He goes and works through my weakness and we’re successful together. It means God gets the credit when good stuff happens, but that’s great because he deserves it!
1 Chronicles 28:20 provides a great conclusion to my post, a verse a good friend from uni reminded me of a couple of weeks ago. David tells his son, Solomon (who, presumably, is feeling quite nervous about being chosen to build God’s temple!) to:
‘Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you until all the work for the service of the temple of the Lord is finished.’
Now how could that not inspire you with confidence? Amazing.