I was recently told that I struggle with self-confidence. I was taken back for a moment. Not because I disagreed, but because I wasn’t sure that self-confidence should even be an aim as a Christian. I am actually a pretty confident person; if anything, I have a little too much self-belief at times, but that is not the point. This single prescriptive statement stayed with me throughout the day. I wasn’t asking the question, “Am I self-confident?” I was trying to ask from a biblical perspective, “Am I supposed to be?” Verses like Philippians 3:3 and Galatians 2:20 came to mind.
I believe, in that moment, the Holy Spirit shifted my attention to the story when Jesus walked on water. His disciples were on the boat and there was a strong wind blowing against them and waves were beating on their boat. All of a sudden they saw what they assumed to be a ghost out on the water. It was no ghost, though, it was Jesus! Walking on the water! They were all afraid, but one of the men stood up. It was Peter. “I want to do that!” he exclaimed. “Come on out!” Jesus replied. Peter was often impulsive, acting on whatever he felt the moment needed. Peter loved to be seen as brave and willing to do what no one else would. Peter had seen Jesus do incredible miracles and had no doubt Jesus had the power to make this happen. So Peter, bursting with confidence in the one he was walking toward, gets out of the boat and walks on the water towards Jesus! What an incredible moment! Peter knew there was no way he could be doing what he was doing without Jesus. It didn’t take long for Peter to become fully aware of the impossibility of what was happening. His eyes fixated fully on the wind and the waves, and Peter began to feel overwhelmed. All he can see is what he is capable of and he is definitely not capable of this. He begins to panic. He begins to drown. Jesus reaches out to him, grabs his hand, and places him back in the boat. “Where is your faith?” Jesus asks.
Peter had seen Jesus do incredible miracles and had no doubt Jesus had the power to make this happen.
Since I began vocational ministry 3 years ago, I have basically only done work that I did not know how to do. As Francis Chan said in his book The Forgotten God, “I don’t want to live a life that can be explained without the The Holy Spirit.” Basically, if I only do the things I’m good at, I’m not living in dependence. It has been my aim to do the scary and uncomfortable things. So, every day, I have to jump out of the boat and try to walk, at Jesus’s direction, on the water of ministry. I have had to be completely dependent on the Holy Spirit, on God’s Word, and on my awesome team of staff and volunteers. I want to do a good job. I worry sometimes that I am letting my church family down, that I don’t have what it takes to do the ministry I am called to do. Honestly, I get overwhelmed sometimes and I start to feel like I am drowning. I guess that is what this well meaning friend was talking about when he shared his concern about my self-confidence. But confidence in myself is what gets me into trouble more often than not. What I see in this passage from Matthew 14 is that Peter got into trouble when his confidence was in himself. It was the moment he started to feel like everything depended on him that he started to sink. God is teaching me that I sometimes have too much self-confidence. I start out with a full awareness of my dependence on Jesus for the success of anything I do. However, it doesn’t take long for me to start to feel confident. I start to take credit for what God is doing through me. Full of self-confidence I start to notice the wind and waves of conflict and challenges and I start to drown again. I need to be reminded that it doesn’t depend on me. The almighty creator of the universe is using me to accomplish His work not mine. I need to leave my self-confidence in the boat and set my confidence in the one who called me out of the boat.
Love Jesus. Live Outward.
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