Debbie Salter Goodwin
Do you remember that childhood euphoria that made you feel you could do anything? Where did all that confidence go?
When we are confident, the world is at our feet; but let it take a vacation and we can battle fierce demons, fight internal wars, and come out so battered we lose momentum as well as big chunks in our self-concept. Joy feels out of our reach. We muddle through, but not with joy.
Confidence is an unpredictable companion.
When Paul addressed confidence, he talked about a different starting point than self-concept, motivation, or skill. Here’s what he said:
Paul was confident that the resurrected Christ who stopped him on the Damascus road had so re-directed his life that he could not take his eyes off his Rescuer. He understood that what Jesus did in him gave a confidence he could not receive from any self-directed accomplishment. The work of salvation would take him farther than his education, family heritage, or passion. The good work that Jesus finished on earth had everything Paul needed to finish his work on earth as well.
We need our confidence re-centered in the same way. Not because we want to be more productive, but because we need more joy.
There are times when hard work brings us a sense of satisfaction. But it doesn’t stick. Let something unexpected attack our sense of well-being, change our plans, turn us around so completely that we feel lost, and joy escapes us.
Early in my writing, I thought I had placed my confidence in what God was calling me to do. So when an opportunity came to work on a film script, something I had never done, I took my confidence from the person who had confidence in me. I’ll never forget the scribbled note I found on the ground that ripped every confident thought I had about the project. My script needed a lot of help, it said. Talk about deflated balloon. Every confident thought I had swooshed out of me so fast, I didn’t know if I could walk back to my office. Misplaced confidence is a joy-robber.
Paul teaches a different model. Joy lives in the good work of Jesus in us. It is His good work that should keep us from depending on circumstances or other people for our joy. Our confidence is stronger when it is attached to what Jesus does not in what we can do.
Feeling a confidence drag? Go back to Jesus’ good work in you. Remind yourself that His work in you is enough for who you need to be and what you need to do. Period.
When we recognize, celebrate, and live the ongoing, completing work of our re-creation in Christ, joy shows up and stays!