Allow me to postulate a premise that I speak on in the Retooled and Refueled Seminar. However, it does not sit well with our politically correct, self-actualized, and overly indulgent culture. That premise is this: It’s possible we have made a drastic mistake to tell two generations of American children that their goal should be to have a high level of self-confidence. I’ve watched over recent decades as we have gradually stopped tapping little ones on the tush and saying, “That was a bad thing to do, Freddy!” Today, young parents agonize over whether it’s even wise to send their little monster to the corner for a time-out, worried that it might damage his self-esteem if they tell him that biting a buddy on the finger is not acceptable.
The Bible is replete with warnings about pride and arrogance—sometimes what we refer to as self-confidence. Parents are urged in Scripture to step up to the plate and do their job: “Discipline your son, for in that there is hope; do not be a willing party to his death” (Proverbs 19:18, emphasis mine, niv). I like this particular passage because it speaks of both causal behavior and resulting outcomes. The writer reminds parents of their God-given mandate to discipline early while “there is hope.” Why? So, as a parent, you won’t bear responsibility for the inevitable ruin that comes to children who grow up without loving discipline. Life (and especially childhood) is too short to fail at this most important of callings.
Anytime people in leadership attempt to build self-confidence by rewarding those who fail to perform at exceptional levels with the same trophies and grades that are received by the few who truly earn them, we are sending a damaging message to both groups. We are saying that your self-esteem is more important than your actual deeds.
Anyone who works in or visits our prisons sees the results of undisciplined living every time they go behind the walls. I’m convinced that many of today’s worst criminals have no shortage of self-confidence. What they lack is morality and respect for others! This is what happens when a culture tells everyone he is his own “god.” If we each self-confidently assert our own “godhood” who is to determine what is right and what is wrong? How can you claim that your belief system trumps mine? And, more importantly, how do we avoid chaos and anarchy?
So what’s the answer? Could it have to do less with the “confidence” side of the equation, and more to do with the “self ” side? I agree we should aggressively teach confidence, boldness, and optimism to every generation.
But maybe, instead of telling ourselves that confidence has its genesis in one’s self, we should accept that our confidence is in (and from) God. When we begin to reframe the issue in this way, good things happen. First, the pressure is off. At our core (and in our more truthful moments) we each realize how finite and imperfect we are. To believe that self-confidence is the ultimate goal forces any thinking person to realize how precarious he is in an uncertain world. But when we recognize that there is someone greater in whom we can build our confidence, we have found the gold standard. Now we can relax and rest in the assured confidence that we can safely lean into any headwind.
I call this “God Confidence.” It makes life easier. No longer am I forced to pump myself up with some trite psychobabble that I know begins and ends with my own limited abilities. God Confidence allows human dignity to return. I no longer have to compete or compare myself to others to find self-worth. Suddenly I’m at eye level with all of God’s people. I am no more, or less, worthy than they are. My value is founded and grounded in God—not myself. I don’t have to look up to anyone. And I mustn’t dare look down on anyone either.
This article was originally published on Crosswalk.com