Results of research conducted by the University of Southern California and the University of Edinburgh indicate that the key to success in most areas of life is, believe it or not, overconfidence. The research measured the impact of overconfidence in comparison to attitudes that valued accuracy and attitudes that could be described as underconfident. Apparently confidence is a far greater factor in being successful than talent or training.
It might be hard to swallow that kind of conclusion. After all, most of us have had some experience of the brash and bumptious personality that brims with confidence to the point of producing nausea in those around it. Consequently, our feelings about confidence and confident people can be a curious blend of envy and revulsion!
Our mixed feelings can feed into our approach to scripture and the sort of attitude that might be desirable for us as Christians. One thing is certain, confidence was certainly something that wasn’t lacking in the early Christians and, if ever there was a real or perceived deficiency in confidence levels, it was met with spine stiffening exhortation.
Peter and John and the other apostles witnessed boldly (Acts 4.31). Paul and Barnabas spoke boldly (Acts 13.46, 14.3). Paul was confident in his relationship with Christ and wanted all believers to share his confidence (2 Corinthians 3.4; Ephesians 3.12). He was confident in what God was doing in the life of believers (Philippians 1.6) And confident of where he was going (2 Corinthians 5.6-8). If you still think I’m kidding you, look at the occurences of confident / confidence in the book of Hebrews. Five occurrences (Hebrews 3.14, 4.16, 6.9, 10.19, 10.35, 13.6). Those are just where words that indicate confidence are used. There are many more passages I haven’t mentioned and many more where believers are acting with confidence even though their actions aren’t directly described as such. And that’s without looking at the Old Testament.
No, we’re not meant to be arrogant or brash. But we are meant to have the kind of confidence that is the fruit of faith. After all if you are a child of the One who created the universe and the King of Kings is your brother, it might be a little insulting to have a mentality that “needs all the facts” or is lacking in confidence.
A few years ago my wife and children and I were invited by our M.P. to visit the Houses of Parliament. It was a scorching hot summer’s day. There were queues of visitors and tourists that seemd to go on forever. You can imagine how good it felt to parade up to the head of the queue and explain that we were expected in the Houses of Parliament. We showed the security officers our invitation and they ushered us in as though we owned the place. How was it we were able to so coolly approach security and walk inside? Because of our relationship with our M.P. and her invitation to us to visit her at Westminster.
Our confidence is found in our relationship with God. Not only does Jesus represent us before the Father, we are actually family. Confidence in ourselves is misplaced and gets us nowhere, but confidence in who we are in Him should be natural for Christians, it should be our default attitude.
Whatever you think your ability is or however limited you think your experience is, there is no good reason not to be confident in Jesus. In fact, you have every reason to be overconfident in Jesus – not that you can ever be too confident in Him!
So don’t throw it all away now. You were sure of yourselves then. It’s still a sure thing! But you need to stick it out, staying with God’s plan so you’ll be there for the promised completion. (Hebrews 10.35-36)