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Tag: confidence

man adjusting tie

Designed for Humble Confidence

Oh, Lord, it’s Hard to be Humble When you’re Perfect in Every Way is a song by country singer Mac Davis that my dad used to sing to my brother and me with a smile and a teasing glint in his eye. The lyrics are a satirical look at the life of being a rock star. If you listen to the words about enjoying looking in the mirror or how he’d have a girlfriend, but the women are in awe of him, you’d either shake your head or chuckle at the egotistical self-confidence.

While this song is a little extreme, the Bible tells us to have a humble spirit, but does that mean it’s wrong to hold self-confidence? James 4:10 says to “humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will exalt you,” and Jesus said, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth (Matt 5:5).” (More on meekness from my past blog.) Can we be humble and confident at the same time?

The distinction between being egotistical and confident is that confidence is not about us. It’s about whose we are. Being self-assured isn’t a bad thing. It’s respecting yourself and who God made you to be. We are all uniquely and wonderfully made in God’s image with unique giftings and talents that God arranged for us to do good works. Knowing we were made for a purpose and loved by our creator should allow us to stand tall and walk with a swagger. Hebrews 4:16 (ESV) states, “Let us then with confidence draw near the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace in time of need.”

Where self-confidence goes wrong is when we emphasize the word self. “For by grace, you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9. It’s not about our abilities. Confidence is about the work God is doing through us. The realization that we are fallible humans fulfilling God’s purpose gives us the confidence to admit when we’re wrong and adjust accordingly to get back on the right path.

confident woman

Confidence also communicates to those around us how we expect to be treated. Nothing riles up my mama bear instincts more than someone mistreating or disrespecting my boys. God feels the same way about His children. Matthew 18:6 warns evil doers to watch out, “but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.” Our God-given confidence and self-respect communicate to a bad boyfriend or girlfriend that we are a child of a mighty, all-powerful God and that they should fear His wrath.

Mac Davis’s song is a hoot, but we can walk tall knowing we’re God’s children, and it’s not as hard to be humble, knowing a perfect God made us.

Boy raising hand in class

It Never Hurts to Ask

Boy raising his hand in class

Have you questioned whether you have the skills to make the team, good enough grades to get into college, or ever poured your life into a project only for your boss to give you another even more challenging one?

My hand is raised.

You would think book launching would become less nerve-wracking with each release, but every time doubts plague me. They buzz about head like bees threatening to sting. This one isn’t going to measure up. People are going to be disappointed. And even if or when good reviews start pouring in, the bees don’t stop circling. You’ve set an expectation, how are you going to beat that? Look at your work-in-progress. It doesn’t come close.

Moments like these, I’m grateful for the story of Elijah, because we are not alone.

On Mount Carmel, Elijah’s confidence was at an all-time high as he courageously announced that he was the only remaining prophet. He taunted the other so-called prophets asking them if their gods were on vacation or sleeping. Elijah had men dump buckets of water on the offering, alter, and wood and filled a trench around it. He then called upon the God of Abraham and fire rained down from heaven, burning up the offering and drying up every last drop of water in a fantastic display of God’s power.

bonfire

Not long after, Elijah swings from a high to a low. He runs from Queen Jezebel, who’s threatened to kill him, and he hides in the desert, weeping and telling the angel God sent to restore him his woes about being the only prophet left and prayed to die. Why is it that like Elijah, our confidence can be like an iron dome one day, but the next, it’s as if we’re trying to grasp water running through our fingers?

We all have doubts—doubts about ourselves, our abilities, our future. James 1:5-6 says, we aren’t to be double-minded. “If you want to know what God wants you to do—ask him, and he will gladly tell you. He will not resent your asking. But when you ask him, be sure that you really expect him to answer, for a doubtful mind is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.” Like Elijah, we can turn to God. He’s not afraid of our lows or our doubts. He’s not going to turn us away with a pointed finger saying, out of my sight, you of little faith. God’s going to meet us in the desert and give us substance like He sent an angel to Elijah. Or he’ll bring us up to the mountain and speak to us in His still small voice. He’s going to remind us of His faithfulness and our past victories. He’ll send us revelation and people to strengthen us like Elijah’s successor Elisha.

All we have to do is ask.

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Bendy character with panicked expression

How to Attack Panic

bendy figure with worried expression

“They want my parenting advice?” I laughed at being asked to speak on a parenting panel for our church. I’m proud of how my boys have become responsible young adults. I prayed hard they’d discover their passions at an early age in which to direct their energy. However, there was a time when it was an amazing feat for me to make it through a parent-teacher conference without crying. I used to cringe when the phone rang because it usually meant a teacher or principal was on the other line.

Why would anyone listen to me?

I sweated out what questions would be asked by the audience, and how I would respond. People say they get butterflies. I had a scene from Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds flapping in my stomach. I stressed over saying the wrong thing. Public speaking is different than writing. There is no delete button. I can’t go back and edit my words. What was I thinking agreeing to do this?

Don't panic button

The day came, and questions were asked, and the panel handled them open and honestly. There wasn’t a question posed that someone on the panel hadn’t dealt with already in a lesser or greater extent. I got to talk about my boys’ struggles and how those challenges have developed their perseverance and character. People came up to me later and actually thanked me.

Like the conductor of an orchestra, God directed the entire thing.

Moses felt the same insecurities when God asked him to speak to Pharaoh and lead his people out of Egypt. He doubted whether he was the right person. He told God no one was going to believe God sent him, that they’ll think he’d hallucinated or something. He then complained that he wasn’t a good public speaker and even begged God to send someone else.

Moses was dealing with over anticipation. We make things into more than they are and blow it out of proportion. We panic and work ourselves up into a hailstorm of “what ifs” that leave us paralyzed in fear. My favorite of God’s answers was when Moses implied he was clumsy with words. God asks Moses, “Who makes mouths?” He then tells Moses, “Go … and I will tell you what to say” (Exodus 4:12).

God will not send us out ill-equipped. He will ask us to do things out of our comfort zone, but He won’t send us without providing means and resources. We must trust God to give us the boldness, confidence, and words at the right moment.  

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Teddy Roosevelt giving a speech

The Key to Commanding a Room

Are you the brightest person in the room? By brightest, I’m not talking about smarts. I mean magnetism, what draws people.

Smiley face emoji among a crowd of frowny face emojis

 Some people desire to be the center of attention others want to be treated like they’re the only person in the room. Think James Bond or Clark Gable. It wasn’t their flashy suits or dapper smiles that made them dreamy (even though it did add to it). It was their confidence, their attitude, and most of all the way they tuned out the rest of the room once the leading lady entered.

My favorite part of a novel is what’s called the cute meet. I’ve written about heroines and heroes meeting on dance floors, elevators, and climbing in windows. In my new release, The Duke’s Refuge, coming out in Jan 2020, the hero thinks the heroine has lost her mind because she wades out into the breakers in a full gown to save her trunks from sinking to the bottom of the ocean. No matter whether it’s a comical first impression, like yanking a hero onto a ballroom dancefloor to avoid someone, or dangerous, like believing the hero is an intruder and whacking him over the head with a candlestick, the heroine grabs the hero’s attention.

The Art of Manliness blog writer Brett McKay wrote an article entitledCommand a Room Like a Man. In the article, he suggests the following:

Theodore Roosevelt making a speech
  • Enter a room boldly,
  • Stand tall,
  • Straighten the silverware at the dinner table or move the salt shaker (this mentally makes you feel more in control).
  • Make eye contact.

My parents offered similar advice (minus the salt shaker thing but add a firm handshake). However, at the end of the article, McKay says the key to owning a room is to be other’s focused. People are drawn to people who take an interest in them.

When we’re paid a genuine compliment, we’re likely to get a warm fuzzy feeling inside. Moreover, think about how you felt toward the person who paid you the compliment. Typically, our guard will drop, and we’ll feel happy to be around that person. Same goes for those who inquire about your interests. I’m thrilled when people ask me how my writing is going or about my books. I’m often more pleased that they took the time to ask about something that brings me joy, sometimes even more so then the opportunity to talk about it. McKay states, “When we shine a light on a person, they reflect that light back on us. If we shine a light on every person in the room, we end up being the brightest man there (Command a Room Like a Man, McKay 7/2009).”

His comment reminded me of 2 Corinthians 3:18So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.” Jesus was others focused, and when we put others before ourselves, we are reflecting his glory. When we seek God, we become changed inside and out, and we reflect his light. When we reflect his love and his light, then Jesus becomes the brightest person in the room.

The Risk – To Trust or Not to Trust?

One hundred and ninety feet above a gorge of swirling turbulent water on a rope 1300 feet long and only two inches in diameter, Charles Blondin was the first person to cross Niagara Falls on a tightrope. In Niagara Horseshoe FallsJune of 1859, 25,000 people gathered to see him perform the feat or watch him plummet to a watery grave below. Not only did Blondin make the trip across and back, by 1896 he’d crossed over 300 times performing stunts like sitting on the rope and having a bottle of wine, strapping a Daguerreotype camera to his back and taking pictures of the crowd, crossing with his body shackled, and walking with a sack placed over his head. He even brought a stove upon which he cooked an omelet and lowered it by rope to the Maid of the Mist boat below.

Charles Blondin and Manager Harry ColcordIn my opinion, the most trusting feat was on the part of his manager, Harry Colcord, who crossed Niagara on Blondin’s back. Blondin told Colcord, “Look up, Harry…. You are no longer Colcord, you are Blondin. Until I clear this place be a part of me, mind, body, and soul. If I sway, sway with me. Do not attempt to do any balancing yourself.” (Daredevil of Niagara Falls, Abbot, Smithsonianmag.com Oct. 18, 2018)

Trust is a powerful force. 

Steve Covey in his book, The Speed of Trust, says if trust is removed it, “will destroy the most powerful government, the most successful business, the most thriving economy, the most influential leadership, the greatest friendship, the strongest character, [and] the deepest love.” (Soundview Executive Book Summaries, Speed of Trust, Vol. 28, No. 11, Part 1, November 2006)

Trust is risky.

Trusting someone is challenging. What if they let me down? Relinquishing control is hard. What if something I need doesn’t get done? We are an independent nation. We’d prefer to fix the problem ourselves. However, a lack of trust slows things down. It also keeps relationships superficial, measured, and distant. In order to reach a deeper level, in order to build trust, we have to take the first step and trust someone else. Steven Covey points out that trust “has the potential to create unparalleled success and prosperity in every dimension of life.”

It is even riskier not to trust.

Many of Blondin’s spectators believed he could make it across the gorge, yet only Colcord had the trust to climb onto Blondin’s back and cling to him knowing his life lay literally in the balance. He trusted Blondin enough to sway with him as the strong winds rocked the rope.

Life will have valleys and gorges. Who are you trusting to get you over them? Are you picking up a balancing stick and stepping onto the swaying rope yourself? Or, are you climbing onto God’s back and allowing Him to carry you over? Are you sacrificing trust to control the small, fleeting moments of your life, or are you trusting in the One who’s bigger than the gorge—the One who controls your ultimate destiny?

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not trust in your own understanding. Agree with Him in all your ways, and He will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6

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