Where Does Your Confidence Come From?
Some say that your school years are the best years of your life. Even aunts, uncles and well meaning family friends encourage you to ‘make the most of it, you are an adult for a long time and your childhood years are the best years of your life’. This gave me the impression that life is pretty dull and hard as an adult; work, marriage, kids and responsibilities are obviously no fun at all. This was a dilemma for me as I hated school and looking forward to leaving was a source of comfort, so these words did not give me much hope. My mission in life was bully avoidance, that was pretty much it. Every thing I did, where I sat in class, where I spent break times, which route I took home were all part of that mission. All in all not a happy time.
Perhaps I wasn’t very brave. Perhaps there was something amiss that prevented me from dealing with it all. It’s evident that saying ‘just hit them back’ doesn’t work, because it didn’t. I had no idea how to and when I tried, it was just pathetic. I felt I obviously deserved it, yet it felt unjust. I wonder whether if I had been taught that it wasn’t me, but the bullies who had the issues, it might have helped. In any case it made me more resilient, which has served me well, and I learned to cope and I grew a thick skin. This did soften once I was a Christian, but then I was too eager to take people into my confidence under the mistaken idea that all Christians can be trusted to ‘have your back’; how wrong I was. Maturity and understanding has served to equip me with a better understanding of why bullying occurs, but the damage doesn’t magically disappear. I didn’t suddenly become brave and gain a sense of my value and place in the world, this takes time and certainly my walk with the Heavenly Father has been essential in this process.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight” 
An obvious downside to this constant barrage of abuse is that confidence has always been a problem for me; even at 48 I am plagued with self-doubt. As a result I have always been happy with mundane, routine roles in life, truck and bus driving, background support roles at church, all without out too much challenge involved. There have been some bright spots in which I could truly flourish and explore some of my potential. Worship leading, with all the organising, expressing your ideas and getting people to carry them through and confronting the fear of speaking from the front all helped to show that there was hope for me. I also formulated in my mind and brought to fruition three big youth events, replete with a website, Facebook group and all the promo materials one would expect; the events, with full light, sound and vision technical support, went down very well were appreciated by all involved and by all whom attended. With hindsight I look back at these achievements as my loving Heavenly Father showing me what I have in me, and what He can do through me, so that later in life my spirit would not be totally crushed when my abilities are called into question.
“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us” 
By far the thing that has given me the most confidence is the trust I place in my loving, kind, patient and gentle Heavenly Father. He has seen to it that I have within me the absolute assurance of the calling He has placed upon me. Therefore, when doubt is expressed from other quarters, my own assurance does not waver. He has shown me that in fact my confidence ought not be in myself, but in Him. Confidence is replaced with trust in Him and by taking a step of faith and by watching what He will do. I can recall to mind many instances whereupon I initiate a conversation against my better judgement of my ability to carry it through, to then hear myself expressing thoughts, ideas and Scripture Truths in words and ways I could have never thought by myself. It is a huge comfort to know that because it’s His work I am doing, He will be with me, because He lives in me and works through me. I can’t think of anything more comforting, confidence boosting and powerful than having the God of the universe living in me and choosing to use me for His cosmic purposes; that of saving souls and of guiding them on their way to Himself by our pointing them to Christ.
“And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” 
And so, although I am not ‘there’ yet, I am faced with a role that requires the air, or appearance at least, of confidence and self assurance of my value and my place in an intimidating environment where bravery, bravado and purpose is normal, and weakness, timidity and fools are not easily tolerated. How will I do this? I go with God, with purpose and His assurance that He goes before me, will be with me and with the knowledge that the work is not mine, but His. So what could possibly go wrong? The fact is it could go horribly wrong, but that would be through my lack of trust in Him, in my forgetting to seek the wisdom  which only he can provide and not because I am in the wrong place, or in the wrong job. Faith in God is the key, not faith in my skills, abilities and accomplishments.
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” 
1. Proverbs 3:5-6a NIV
2. Ephesians 3:20 NIV
3. Matthew 28:20c NIV
4. James 1:5 NIV
5. Joshua 1:9 NIV
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