I met a young US Marine this past weekend. He exuded an appealing level of self-confidence. He was erect, he spoke courteously, and he had a bearing that said that here is a person who is capable of leading. He was self-assured but not cocky, and soft-hearted but not maudlin.
Not just Marines, but all people should be appropriately confident.
SELF-CONFIDENCE IS NECESSARY FOR HUMAN FLOURISHING.
Self-confidence is rooted in our intrinsic value as God’s children. Some people think that when a man stands upright, lifts his chin, and smiles, he is proud and full of himself. But what if he’s only being the man that God created him to be? What if God desires us to embrace the goodness and strength within us, rather than to focus on our weakness and sinful depravity? All good things within us come from Him. To be self-confident is to recognize that fact and to live accordingly.
Self-confidence provides the power to accomplish our goals. Some people think that the biggest danger in life is to bite off too much, and to fail. But nothing is so paralyzing as fear. Self-confidence provides the impetus to stare a challenge in the face and to push through difficulties to the bitter end. Self-confident people know that even failure becomes a success if we learn from it. More often than not, we will succeed and NOT fail. But if we lack the confidence to even try, we will never know.
Self-confidence comes from reaching our goals and living up to our ideals. Some people accuse self-confident people of thinking that they are better than others. But maybe those people are only resenting the upbeat attitude and successful track record. It is true that self-confident people aren’t satisfied with the mediocrity of the status quo. But they aren’t intent on diminishing others. In fact, they aren’t really focused on other people at all, but on their goals. They are looking within, determining what their values really are, and then setting out to live in accordance with those values. In reaching their goals, self-confident people make the world and themselves better.
Self-confidence results when our sense of worth is tied to what we can control. Some people believe that they must allow others to dictate their own worth to them. They make their choices based upon what others will think of them. They distrust their own choices and their own value. As soon as someone criticizes them, they wither, surrender, and feel terrible about themselves. They give their power away. They believe that they can never thrive unless until someone gives them something. Many times this full approval never comes, and so their lives stall. And even if the powerful people in their lives do condescend to compliment or promote them, it is a hollow victory and doesn’t lead to true flourishing anyway.
A Marine takes control of his life. Even within the command hierarchy his dignity and value is affirmed because of his accomplishments and status as a US Marine. He endures boot camp, not because it feels good, but because he chose it. He joined the ranks and he is proud of it. His initial and ongoing training shows himself what he is really capable of. If someone calls him weak, he knows that he is strong. If someone calls him scum, he knows that he stands for honor. His confidence in his own ability only grows as he succeeds. A self-confident person realizes that to wait to take action until he receives the approval of others is to wait for a ship that might never come in.
Self-confidence is God’s gift. Some people are never secure as Christians because they constantly fear that they will grow cold and fall away. Or they question their performance record and feel that they must be a disappointment to God and are barely Christian. These people haven’t fully accepted God’s gift. God says that NOTHING will be able to separate us from Him! God says that you are MORE than a conqueror! You have the power to determine whether you are good or bad. When you surrender to God alone and begin to live in Him, He says that you are valuable. He makes you strong. You have the only stamp of approval that you ultimately need. Who cares if others try to tear you down? Godly self-confidence is built on the foundation of who God says that you are. What a gift!
Self-confidence is necessary for human flourishing. This truth applies not just to US Marines, but to everyone. Accept who you actually are! Utilize the power that God entrusted to you. Identify your values and live them! You are not a victim, but a conqueror!