For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. 2 Timothy 1:7
William Arthur Ward was a writer and educator in the sixties. He is one of the most quoted writers out there. In 1942 he entered the army as a private and ended up a captain within those four years. If there is one aspect of his life that is very evident, it’s his discipline and leadership. He may have said that the price of excellence is discipline, but the consequence of discipline is confidence. When we use self-control in our lives we show ourselves that we cannot be led by how we feel. Self-control is making choices that are godly which will affect our future in a positive way. If there is one power that God has exempted Himself from it is making choices for us. He gave us the freedom of choice, so that when we choose Him and embrace His will for our lives we will achieve the excellence Ward is mentioning. God will bless the good choices we make and His favor will be part of our lives. This will give you confidence of who you are in Christ and confidence in every aspect of your life. God wants us to be confident in Him and ourselves when we see ourselves as He sees us. Sometimes we can get over confident or cocky. Cockiness is taking God out of the equation of your life and replacing Him with the idea that you can do it on your own. When you begin to build self-confidence in your life there is always the temptation to go beyond God and move ahead of Him and what His will is for your life. There are things we can practice that can keep us from getting cocky.
The above verse gives us three applications that are intertwined and we can use to stay on the humble side of self-confidence. The first aspect is one of the most important and helps us with the other two and that is the power of the Holy Spirit. As we keep reading God’s word and praying as much as we can during the day, we develop a fantastic relationship with the Holy Spirit. We have to live a faithful life, not a fearful life as Paul mentions in the first part of the verse. The Holy Spirit is our comforter and strength, and if we listen, leads us to make the correct choices for a disciplined life. Discipline is the key to loving yourself and others the way God loves you unconditionally.
Unconditional love or agape love is probably one of the most transforming parts of my life. When I started seeing myself as God sees me, I stopped being a perfectionist and worrying about acceptance. Unconditional love will always be a primary part of my ministry until the end of my life. With unconditional love, we have no conditions on our love, meaning we don’t let expectations show us the way to selfishness. Instead, we don’t expect anything and selflessness is the consequence. In marriages and friendships, this is very important to have in a lasting relationship. This takes the self-discipline that Paul talks about next.
Self-control does not breed overconfidence. Self-control keeps us in the realm of God’s will for our lives. We don’t overstep our bounds and we move only when God wants us to move. Self-control keeps our life moving forward within the limits of the freedom God provides. A perfect illustration of overconfidence just happened a few minutes ago. I have told my wife for a couple of weeks now that my dog Buddy was going to catch an overconfident squirrel. This squirrel would boldly get close to the house so Buddy could see him outside of the window. Every time I let my dog out to do his business, he would run like the blazes to catch this squirrel. The squirrel would as always climb the tree and get to safety before Buddy could catch him. I knew it would be only a matter of time before he made a mistake and Buddy would catch him. Tonight was the night that happened. The squirrel is still alive, but has a damage tail. Overconfidence was the downfall of the squirrel and he paid the price almost with his life had I not intervened. When we use our self-control we allow God to come in and work in our lives powerfully. Moving ahead of God or thinking we can do it without Him, or even thinking God is not moving fast enough, we have to realize we are not ready. We still have to go through some things in the process to get to the outcome. Failure will happen with overconfidence. If that does happen we can still get to the outcome God is looking for because He is the God of unlimited chances.
Self-control and unconditional love result in the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives. These three work together in making us godly confident, not cocky. God wants us to be confident in ourselves, but with the idea of Him being behind us. Cockiness is taking credit yourself and having an inflated ego. Your life and the way you live it will show the world that you are either humble confident or just plain arrogant. Pride comes before the fall, don’t be like the squirrel and get your tail chewed up.
[David Howard], [David’s Body Temple], 2011-2015.