This month, we at The Simply Beloved want to focus on different aspects of confidence. I have been truly excited to start clacking away at my laptop. Why?
I get to write about humility.
For some reason, confidence and humility can almost seem like opposites. When something or someone is described as humble, we often think of lowly, less-important, and self-deprecating traits. On the flip side, confidence has kind of a bad rap, right? Thinking of confidence reminds some of us of conceited, hard-edged, and bossy characters. To top it off, the world feeds us the message that the two are mutually exclusive. It says we can either be humble and let others walk all over us, or be confident and nobody is the boss of us!
Confidence and humility can appear to disagree with one another, but one without the other is dangerous. We all have friends we would describe as humble who do not exemplify Christ-like humility, but rather self-loathing and codependency*. It has been drilled into their brains to always “be humble,” and along the way, that “humility” masked the fear of disappointing people or how little they believe they deserve any good – even the good God is trying to hand them.
On the other end of the spectrum, we can think of women who are described as very confident but who might have a record of making others feel small, over-sharing their opinions in a hurtful way, and being unapproachable. In those cases, confidence feels like a weapon.
Are those our only options though? Do we either get to be a doormat or a bully?
In Jesus, we see a different way. We see that godly humility and godly confidence are not oxymoronic but rather an ideal team. As we read Paul’s letter to the church in Philippi, we are given a convicting picture of true humility in the character of our Lord (Philippians 2). Brother Paul describes how the King came down, lowering Himself beneath all of His own creation, taking on that which He never deserved to give us grace we still don’t deserve.
He lived out perfect humility. Not only that, but when we think of Jesus – how He related to others, how He spoke of Himself, how He lived and even how He died – we see a flawless marriage of humility and confidence. Let us fix our eyes on Him, shall we? How did He do it?
He knew exactly who He was, because He knew exactly Whose He was
If you flip back before His first sermons or even before His time in the desert being tempted, you’ll find a beautiful key to Jesus’ ministry. When He gets baptized by John the Baptist, He comes up out of the water and what does the Father say? “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well-pleased.” (Matt 3:17) Well-pleased? Well-pleased for doing what? He hadn’t even started His ministry yet and His Father was already declaring His delight in Him.
Can you feel the weight of what that means for us? The Father, before we even have a chance to succeed or fail, delights in us. This should be both completely humbling and incredibly encouraging.
Jesus was continually aware that He belonged to the Father and that He was already accepted. Can you imagine what His life would look like if He were insecure about who He was? It would be a nightmare of people-pleasing and proving Himself to skeptics. Instead, we see Him approaching each moment with full confidence as the Son of God, and full humility that He was not His own.
When Jesus was asked in the temple courts who He was, he didn’t shy away and get awkward, kicking the dirt and saying “Well, some people think I’m the Son of God. So… I mean… I guess I am.” No! He said with a contented Spirit, “I am He” (John 18). But notice, He also didn’t go on a rant, shouting “I can’t believe you don’t know who I am!”, fighting to prove it to all of them.
Humility and confidence are balanced in us when we know exactly who we are; unthreatened daughters of the Almighty, already delightful to the Father, called according to His purpose. Which brings me to my next point…
He knew exactly what His purpose was
As I just mentioned, Jesus had His identity firmly rooted in the Father. He drew confidence from the well of God’s love and acceptance of Him, and He walked in humility because His life and purpose were not His own.
When crowds wanted more and more of Him, He wasn’t tempted to do everything they asked of Him all of the time; rather He did what His Father asked of Him. When more than 12 folks were pining to be in His inner circle, He wasn’t trapped in indecision, not wanting to make anyone mad; He knew exactly who He had chosen and wasn’t afraid to walk away from the others.
We often think humility as saying “Yes” to everything that is asked of us, because we want so badly to be self-sacrificing like Jesus. However, Jesus knew His purpose and identity with clarity, and constantly said “No” to things outside of them. If He had said “Yes” to everything, He would have never made it to the cross!
False humility tells us we have to say “Yes” all of the time because we don’t matter and other people should always be more important. Godly humility is always oriented around the Father. We love and serve people selflessly because He loves and serves us selflessly; but we do so knowing who we are, clearly understanding what is and is not our responsibility.
Jesus saw the call on His life and was obedient to it; confident in the One who called Him and completely humble to the call, regardless of the sacrifice it required.
He constantly returned to the Source
As Christians, we can feel guilty for so many things, can’t we? We feel guilty for taking time to ourselves, we feel guilty for letting others down, we feel guilty for not doing enough. Oh, but Jesus. Jesus exemplifies a lifestyle that would send our guilt-triggers off like crazy! But He’s our picture of humility. He’s our picture of what it looks like to live fully for God and not ourselves, and we see Him constantly returning to the Source by Himself.
A.J. Sherril, in his book, Quiet writes about Christ’s pattern of ministry. He says Jesus’ rhythm was “solitude, community, ministry.” He started in solitude with God, then spent time pouring into those closest to Him, then addressed the crowd. All the healing, all the miracles – they all started with His time alone.
The gospels tell us that Jesus withdrew regularly to be with the Father.
Jesus, the only perfect human ever, needed time alone with God. Jesus needed to constantly return to sit at His Father’s feet, and so do we. We cannot live out godly humility and confidence on our own merits. Time spent alone with the Father reminds us that we are both more sinful and dependent than we can fathom, and more loved than we could ever imagine. True humility is only found in the presence of God, and in the presence of God we are never more loved and known.
You see, sisters: In Christ, we see what humility is and is not.
Humility is NOT self-loathing.
Humility is NOT codependency.
Humility is NOT an absence of confidence.
Humility lets your heart rest, for you have nothing to prove, nothing to strive for in relationships other than to serve and love from the overflow of how served and loved you are.
Humility knows when to say “No”, because it keeps you centered on who you are and to what and whom you are called.
Godly humility says “I do not deserve this grace, but I will fully receive it. I do not deserve it, but I will let you wash my feet (‘unless you let me wash you…’ John 13) I seek only to glorify the Father, and I do that by living into who He says I am: Beloved.”
So go confidently, sisters! Humble yourselves before the Father, and let Him lift you up (James 4:10). Let Him tell you of His heart for you and allow that to move you toward courage. Let the example of Christ remind you that He has made you for a life of humility and confidence, of sacrificial love and blessed fearlessness.
In the Mighty Love of Christ,
*Codependency does not refer to all caring behavior or feelings, but only those that are excessive to an unhealthy degree. Codependency often involves placing a lower priority on one’s own needs, while being excessively preoccupied with the needs of others. Codependency may also be characterized by denial, low self-esteem, excessive compliance, or control patterns.