Confidence: Lessons from Jesus
May 13, 2023
One of the characteristics I admire most about Jesus was his confidence. He knew who he was, where he came from, and where he was going. He was undeniably powerful but he displayed neither outward bravado nor the smugness that sometimes comes from belief in one’s superior qualities. His confidence was rooted in God and God alone, so we can rightly call Jesus’ kind of confidence “God-confidence” rather than “self-confidence.”
Jesus went about his daily business fully persuaded that God had sent him into the world on a mission, God was with him, and God was in control of all things. This confidence freed him from fear and people-pleasing; it enabled him to live fully and authentically, and made him useful to God.
Jesus did not allow himself to be controlled or manipulated by people into pursuing projects that may have been within his capacity but outside God’s purpose for his life. He would not be pressured into doing things outside God’s time. He was not afraid to disagree with people, even powerful ones; and he did not allow other people’s often misguided opinions of him to shake his sense of identity.
When his brothers tried to goad him into going to Jerusalem to essentially become famous, he refused, and instead went in God’s time (Jn. 7:3-8). When he received word that Lazarus was ill, he did not allow what appeared to others a desperate moment to compel him to go to Bethany right away (Jn. 11:1-6). When people called him demon-possessed (Jn. 7:20), threatened him (Jn. 8:59), or questioned his sanity or motives (Jn. 7:12), he did not have a pity party, he pressed on with his sense of identity unshaken. When people celebrated him, he did not allow the applause to get to his head because he knew the fickleness of humanity (Jn. 2:24).
These examples show an unmistakable confidence or inner strength that is often mistaken for stubbornness, obnoxiousness, even arrogance. Indeed, although some saw authority and benevolence in Christ’s teachings and actions, others were offended by the man from Nazareth who had the gall to think himself equal to God. Who does he think he is?
But when we consider the world we live in, with all its pressures to conform to the latest trends, and how easy it is to wander and lose oneself, it is easy to understand why Jesus remained confident and held the line; why he continually reminded people (and perhaps himself!) who he was (and by implication, who he was not). He lived with purpose and without apology for who he was or what he believed.
After all, as far as Jesus was concerned, ultimately, obeying God and finishing the work God had given him were the only things that mattered in his brief earthly existence. And he certainly needed God-confidence to do both.