I’m about to say some stuff that sounds (maybe it is) prideful and self-important, so bear with me for a second. I’ve met presidents, spoken to big crowds, spent time with celebrities, won awards, received scholarships, tested highly, received competing job offers, married an incredible woman, and my kids adore me. Why say all this? Because I still lack confidence—big time. Actually, other than the last two things, that list was hard to write because those things don’t stick. So, if success and relationships don’t do it for me, how can I build confidence? And how can I do it without becoming full of pride?
Here’s the thing. I constantly seek success and approval. That’s not just what my Enneagram says; it’s true. So much so that I don’t really like to start things I can’t win. If I start a project at work, I don’t just want to succeed, I want it to be the best there’s ever been. Be kind with your judgment, I’m just being real. Often this means I work hard—sometimes even humbly—with others to produce pretty great work. But sometimes it means I don’t do things I should do because I’m not convinced I have the means to do them. I lack the confidence to win, so I don’t play. And that’s not humility. That’s pride.
Where do I get confidence?
What’s wrong with avoiding what you can’t win? A lot. But let’s focus on two things. First, avoiding projects, relationships, or anything because you don’t think you’re strong enough means you’re relying on your own strength, not God’s. If I only start what I can win, then I’ll only build human confidence, which is also called pride. If I start what only God can finish, then I will build confidence that lasts: God confidence, which is also called trust.
Second, if I look to my work, my relationships, and my success for my confidence and value, then I’m only worth what I can produce. Here’s one reason that’s wrong. Actually, let me tell you a quick story. I was talking to my friend, Brian, about this whole thing and he quipped, “What if you spent 15 seconds every day, for a month, telling yourself the truth about your value?” I took him up on it, and together we came up with this statement, “Your value does not increase or decrease based on what others might say or think about you. Your value comes from the ingredients God used to make and save you.”
How can I build confidence with truth?
I wrote this statement in my phone and set a daily reminder to go off when I wake up each morning. The first morning I woke up to a notification. But it wasn’t this reminder. It was a text from someone very important to me who was sharing deep disappointment in me. The next notification on my phone? The truth statement. I can’t tell you how much I needed it. So, I responded to the text in humility and love rather than defending my wounded ego. Later that day, after repeating the truth statement over and over, I had the confidence to call them in person and work it out.
A few days later, something I wrote got what I’d consider the highest compliment from the person my peers would probably consider its most important reader. I repeated the statement, and received the compliment but didn’t allow it to determine my value or falsely inflate my value. Another day I took a major risk and repeated the truth statement. Then my risk got rejected and I repeated the truth statement again.
Every day I repeated this statement, “Your value does not increase or decrease based on what others might say or think about you. Your value comes from the ingredients God used to make and save you.” Not once, but all throughout the day. Because I need it all throughout the day. Not just when I failed, but especially when I succeeded.
Does positive self-talk really build confidence?
At the end of the month, I feel like my soul has caught up on years of rest. I’m more mature, less prideful, more joyful, less stressed, and I have more peace. Hopefully I’m more humble, too. I can start a hard conversation with my wife, submit a major project with little anxiety, and value people for who they are rather than what they do.
Why is this working? Positive self-talk alone won’t build true confidence. But when you talk to yourself the way God talks about you, you’ll build unshakeable God confidence. Why? Because God’s words can turn dust into life. It’s true that my value comes from the ingredients God used to make me, and the sacrifice Jesus made to save me. And it’s true that we are transformed by the daily renewal of our minds by the washing of God’s truth.
How can I build my confidence? With God confidence. Not God’s confidence in me, but my confidence in Him. We build this by trusting His truth enough to let it pour the daily foundation for our lives. Do you need to start each day with my truth statement? Maybe you need another? Do you need new words to live by? Like my friend, Brian, I’m challenging you to spend at least 15 seconds a day, for at least the next month, speaking the truth to yourself. Even if you’re not sure you believe in God, it’s worth a try if you’re struggling with believing in yourself.