Whoever trusts in his own mind is a fool,
but he who walks in wisdom will be delivered.
You may wonder why I keep harping on this beleaguered topic. After all, in a world flooded with insecurity, self-confidence would seem to be the panacea. It would, actually, if it progressed not a bit further than that. The issue with self-confidence lies in the illusion of autonomy that it produces, and the other side of that coin is deeply stamped with Perfectionism.
“If I want it done right, I’ll have to do it myself!” This familiar statement begs the question: What is “right?” And the answer is, of course, “My way,” whether or not it is in fact the most excellent way.
That brings me to the most insidious fallacy of self-confidence: that it implies quality. You’ve perhaps noticed that self-confident people are practically unteachable. If you’ve ever found yourself in the unenviable position of training a self-confident person, you know that all to well; when he or she confidently bounds ahead of your instruction, their inescapable errors become your fault for not teaching them properly.
Nobody likes an egotist. And the most hateful toward an egotist is another egotist. You see, it’s all about competition; a truly competitive person doesn’t believe he’s the best at his chosen sport, so he’s always after another competitor who’s better than he, and whose more expert game will challenge him to improve. The self-confident, egotistical player will not be bettered at the sport without leveling accusations of cheating or other unfair advantage.
Of course, I apply this phenomenon to, “the game,” as a generalized reference to any field of endeavor. You can as easily apply it to industry, business, academia, and even religion, as well.
Like pride, self-confidence isn’t always a bad thing. Lots of people—though not nearly enough, I’m afraid—possess outstanding ability in their chosen endeavor so their self-confidence is warranted. These are the masters in their trades, truly effective managers, brilliant scholars, and champion athletes. But, while they’ve earned the right to exercise self-confidence, they still have no excuse for arrogance. As good as they are at doing, many of them stink at being.
Even the universe’s Creator, when he came into the world as a man, found no reason to look down on others. In fact, he loved the least of this world so much that he gave his earthly life for us. Though one word from him would have caused his taunters to cease existing, he silently endured the agony and humiliation of the cross to offer us an opportunity to turn away from our evil, and reconcile with his Father God. In fact, near the last of his three-hour ordeal of asphyxiating and bleeding out on that cross, he prayed for his Father to forgive his torturers. That prayer was also for me, and you, since our prideful, self-centered sin put him there.
That’s right! You don’t have to be a murderer or rapist to qualify as a sinner; any attitude that places you on a higher plain than anyone else, that allows you to look down on them in judgment, is sin, just as heinous as that of any serial-killer.
You say you don’t judge others? Do you mean you never look with distaste on whores, drug addicts and thieves? You never insist on your own way because, well, it’s just better than theirs? You never look upon someone else’s possessions and think you deserve them more?
We’ve all done those things, with the conspicuous exception of Jesus. He’s the only one who never sinned, and that’s why his torturous death, burial in a borrowed tomb, and resurrection on the third day is so significant; with no sin-guilt of his own, he could take all our sin-guilt to the cross, and die that accursed death as punishment for our sin. Maybe you can’t relate to the idea of blood-sacrifice for sin. That’s because Jesus was the perfect sacrifice, the spotless Lamb of God who made all other sacrifices obsolete. You can thank him for becoming our one Way to the eternal Father.
So, go ahead and be self-confident, if you excel at something. But no one excels at goodness without Jesus.