Having Confidence That Lasts

Jeremiah 17:5-8

5 “This is what the LORD says:
“Cursed is the one who trusts in man,
who depends on flesh for his strength
and whose heart turns away from the LORD.

6 He will be like a bush in the wastelands;
he will not see prosperity when it comes.
He will dwell in the parched places of the desert,
in a salt land where no one lives.

7 “But blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD,
whose confidence is in him.

8 He will be like a tree planted by the water
that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;
its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
and never fails to bear fruit.”

Confidence can be such a fickle thing.  You may have confidence in one area of your life while having a complete absence of it in another.  I’ve often wondered, how can I be so confident and comfortable in this area and lack so much confidence in this other area?  Well, as I read the passage of scripture above, it started to be come clear.  The root of our confidence will determine the consistency of its expression. When our confidence is based solely in our ability and will be very shallow.  But when we find our confidence in an always faithful God, we will be “a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.”

There may be areas in your life, as is in mine, that you are naturally gifted or have excelled in throughout your life.  These are the areas you often find the most confidence.  The points of failure in your life, then work like a sponge, completely soaking up and eliminating any sign of confidence.  Well, here are a few things God has been teaching me in the area of confidence that I’d like to share with you:

  • Whether we experience victory or failure, finding our confidence in God will guard us from the dangers of both arrogance and depression.
  • Godly confidence doesn’t just happen, it is developed.  Just as you would develop a muscle or skill, you must develop confidence in God. This comes by spending time in prayer, reading and declaring scripture, spending time understanding the promises of God.
  • Confidence in God is not just a frame of mind, it is also a matter of practice. We must not only understand the confidence we should have in God, but exercise it by stepping out in faith and doing what could only be done in His power.
  • A lack of confidence often becomes most visible in failure.  If you are in the midst of failure, know that you can find hope and promise in God.  He has created you with incredible gifts and value that no amount of failure can ever diminish. That is a confidence that is not overcome, but one that lasts.

How do you develop your confidence in God?  Do you find yourself battling a lack or excess of confidence?

The Trap of Entitlement

In the area of church leadership/ministry, there is a huge trap that many young leaders can frequently find themselves in.  It is a trap that can entangle even the most equipped leaders…it is the trap of entitlement.  Below I have listed some thoughts on avoiding this trap, but before I get into those, let’s explore briefly what this trap looks like.

Entitlement often shows its ugly head when expectations are not met. Unmet, or unclear expectations, are the basis really for a lot of frustration in leadership, but I’ll cover that in a future post.  As a young leader comes out of college or steps into a ministry position they often step in with certain “therefore’s”, which might include some of these:

  • I now have a degree, THEREFORE I deserve a full-time job in this field.
  • I feel I am a very talented, THEREFORE my superiors should appreciate the privilege of having me on their staff.
  • I worked hard to get here, THEREFORE I shouldn’t have to work as hard to stay here.
  • I could get a job anywhere I want, THEREFORE you better make the extra effort to keep me.

These “therefore’s” can be so dangerous because of the missed premise of ministry and its purpose.  The overall concept of entitlement states that “I deserve ____________ because of _____________”.  The reality is, we already have more than we deserve!  When you boil it down, it is a privilege to just be called by God to serve Him in ministry. It’s not about what I can get out of this or what I deserve.  Our focus should be “What can I give God and how can I serve others through this opportunity?”

To avoid this dangerous mindset of entitlement, here are a few quick tips:

  • Constantly remind yourself WHY you’re in ministry.  Remember, it’s not about us, it’s about those that are far from God.
  • Look for opportunities to SERVE others when it won’t benefit you.  This means doing things that may be outside your job portfolio or you might consider ‘beneath’ you.
  • Do your best to LISTEN more and talk less.  Entitlement can often set in when we fool ourselves into thinking we know it all…you would be surprised what you can learn from those you consider the most ignorant.

Have you ever battled with entitlement?  What advice would you add?

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