Character Study

Character Study: Confidence

You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop and look fear in the face. You must do the things you think you cannot do.

~Eleanor Roosevelt

How do we become confident?

Some may argue we are born with or without confidence. In other words, it is a personality trait. I can see this point when I look at my children throughout our years of homeschooling. My oldest son often felt right in his wrongness about why he had missed an algebra problem to the futile point of argument. My youngest son is rarely ruffled by life’s ups and downs. They are similar to my husband, who constantly amazes me with his self-assured prowess. My middle son is most like me. He worries he won’t do something right. In his case, he decides not to try. If someone else can do it better, he is more than willing to have someone else do it. I’m less that way. In fact, I would rather try and fail than ask for help most of the time.

But, are any of these scenarios reflecting confidence? Are we just limiting ourselves with lack of confidence or deluding ourselves with overconfidence?

I am studying Gideon right now. He starts out without any confidence in his ability to lead anyone. Tear down his own father’s Baal idol? Bring ten friends. Face the Midianites? Bring 32,000 troops.

Then he watches as God whittles that number down to 300.

Then he goes on a night watch with his servant and overhears the Midianite plan, which matches up with what God told him.

Then he has confidence.

But, confidence in what?

The trumpets, bowls, and torches they use as weapons?

No, he has confidence in God.

So Eleanor Roosevelt is close in her statement. We cannot do the things that require true strength, courage, and confidence. Only God can give us that ability.

Such confidence we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God. 

2 Corinthians 3:4-5 NASB

So we say with confidence,

“The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.
    What can mere mortals do to me?”

Hebrews 13:6 NIV

This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.

1 John 5:14 NIV

So, where do I get my confidence?

Not from me!

Character Study

Character Study: Companions

Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that but the really great make you feel that you too can become great.When you are seeking to bring big plans to fruition it is important with whom you regularly associate. Hang out with friends who are like-minded and who are also designing purpose-filled lives. Similarly be that kind of friend to your friends.

~ Mark Twain

Last weekend, my husband and I met with our friends from high school and college for our annual Christmas party. In fact, my cherished volume of Mark Twain novels came from my husband’s two high school friends and my former roommate who married one of them.

These six “like-minded” couples with “purpose-filled lives” have been a privileged part of my life for more than twenty-five years. We have experienced heart-warming memories as well as endured heart-breaking news. Whether or not we fully understand the decisions each couple makes, we have sought to be supportive of our plans big or small.

We have literally grown up and are growing old together. What a blessing!

But, I want to pause on the first part of this quotation for a moment.

Just as I have had these life-long friends and adulthood friends like them, I have had to turn away from those who have belittled–or worse, have sought to thwart–my ambitions. I do not make this assertion lightly: there are times when it is essential to stop associating with “small people” because of the emotional and psychological damage they can cause.

But, what about those who have a Hosea-like commitment?

That requires guidance from the source of the prior commitment.

When God calls us into a relationship, we are not to leave it until we are called out of it. That’s why God is so adamant about not being unequally yoked with unbelievers. Yet, by His Spirit, He often calls us to engage for a time with individuals who need to see His love acted out through us. Only then can we be safe in those associations–the ones He ordains.

But, as Twain points out, there are those toxic people we are better off leaving behind. Jesus was insistent on this, too.

Forgive them?

Yes.

Attempt reconciliation?

If possible.

Resume the relationship?

In most cases, no.

There are better friends–decades-long-ones–who remain.

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

John 15:13 NIV