Confidence Without Arrogance
By Dr. Monte Wilson
Recently a young man wrote me after attending a sales and persuasion training I had led at his business office. What he wanted to know was how to be “authentically confident.” He stressed “authentically” because, he said, he was great at acting confidently but usually was quite insecure. Furthermore, because he was a Christian, he was concerned about being arrogant or prideful.
As I understand confidence, it is the settled belief that I am capable of living, managing, and directing my life. I have what I need for doing this, intellectually, psychologically, and physically.
I can think, evaluate and choose.
I am capable of causing the intended effects of what I have visualized.
I can learn what I need to learn, do what I need to do, accomplish what I set out to accomplish.
None of this means I have done so: I can choose to not think, decide to not act, or refuse to not put the effort into learning.
To behave as if I have accomplished what I haven’t is arrogance. However, to behave as if I can is an honest expression of what I believe about myself.
Confidence is different from competence. Merely because I am confident that I can learn something does not mean I have learned it. Staying at a Holiday Inn Express doesn’t mean I am competent to perform brain surgery.
You have every reason to be confident. You have been created by God and gifted with awesome abilities, capacities, gifts and talents. You have been given the very presence of God through the gift of his Holy Spirit. The Bible you read is filled with wisdom for living a full and healthy life. In short, you have been given everything you need to live life as God intended.
Of course, one of the biggest hurdles for many Christians is the issue of humility. Somehow, many have mistaken self-hatred for humility. Okay, maybe not self-hatred but many do view “self-impeachment” as synonymous with “humility.”
Yes, keeping self-confidence from growing into arrogance is important. To do this, however, we must begin with a healthy understanding of “humility.”
Humility is also admitting that I can be wrong about my judgments, decisions and actions. But I am not wrong merely because someone disagrees with me. It is not humble to say, “I am wrong,” when I believe I am not, or merely because some authority tells me that I am wrong. Actually it is a disservice to those that disagree with us as we rob them of further education or wisdom. Confident people hold true to their beliefs, values, and guiding principles regardless of what others may think, until and unless they are shown a better way. They do this, of course, without defiance or belligerence.
Confident people don’t have to be “right” about everything: they simply do not fear being wrong. In fact, they want to know when they are wrong. They simply refuse to roll over and play dead because someone yells at them and disagrees with their ideas.
It seems to me that humility and confidence go hand in hand. At the end of the day, I know where my talents, gifts, resources, opportunities, and blessings come from: not from my own doing but from God himself.
Jesus washing the feet of his disciples is, for me, a perfect example of what I am talking about here. He knew he was the Son of God. He didn’t need to prove his self, demand special treatment or put on airs of any kind. Given his confidence and security, it was no big deal to wash the feet of the men whom he loved. There were no thoughts of “What will they think?” “Will this lower their estimation of me?” On the contrary, he was so confident regarding who he was that he didn’t need to think of himself at all! As GK Chesterton said, “It is always the secure who are humble.”
Insecure people are not humble. They may be timid, they may walk around impeaching themselves to all who will listen, they even may constantly say, “I am nothing,” and then mumble, “without God,” but this is not humility.
It is not humble to tell God (or others) that he is wrong about who you are. If Jesus had said, “No, no…its not me…I am nothing…no one,” however humble it might have sounded, it would have been a lie and an act of arrogance.
The reality is that you have been created by and for God. You have been given specific gifts, talents and abilities by him so as to be able to serve others and make significant contributions in the world, as well as so as to be able put food on the table, a roof over your head and clothes on your body. You have stuff to do that no one else is called by God to do in exactly the way you are.
You also have weaknesses, deficiencies and, to some degree, a proclivity for ignoring God and living contrary to his will and ways.
Both of these paragraphs describe you—describe all of us. Be honest about this with yourself and, when wise and appropriate, with others.