So here is the truth - I have never scored off the charts in the area of self-confidence. My default language leans towards self-doubt. It's not that I am at the point of non-functioning. Still, I recognize a measure of uncertainty. I quit trying to trace its roots in my history. It just is. I have learned to walk with this limp. But closer to the bone, I have to admit that at times, it bothers me. I see others who brim with a Superman attitude and wonder, "Where can I buy that?" There are plenty of places that try to sell it. I have attended seminars and bought books that tell me effective leaders can leap over tall buildings and bounce bullets off their chest. Self-confidence is paraded as the essential super power for anyone who wants to lead and to succeed. But I leave the auditorium or close the book seeing so much Kryptonite.
My guess is that I am not alone. In a culture which compels us to dream big and achieve bigger, there are more than a few who feel out of step. So they try to conjure up confidence. They join the pep rally and chant that they can do anything. Some reach their goals. Some fall short and become even more affirmed of their limitations. So is it hit and miss? Is self-assurance something that fits some and looks too big on others? I offer a substitute.
Self-confidence may help life and leadership - but it is not essential. Faith is. God does not need us to maintain a "can-do" attitude. Frankly the Scriptures say that there is little that we can do on our own. When Jesus said, "Without Me you can do nothing'," did He bruise the disciples' egos? Rather than inflating their self-esteem, He commanded them to abide in Him. He reminds all of us that life comes from the Vine not the branches. Some branches may be more adventurous than others. Some shoots may prefer shade over sunlight. But no matter - God is the source of life and in Him we thrive.
Faith is not opposed to self-confidence, but it does point in a different direction. Faith isn't consumed by personal ability, capacity, track record, giftedness or ambition. Abraham didn't leave his home because he had a great dream. Jacob had most of his self-confidence wrestled from him. Isaac was chased from well to well until God made space for him. God was not ashamed to be called their God. There is no shame in living our lives after their pattern. So I no longer worry about my self-esteem. I dismiss the leadership portraits which list self-confidence as the first essential. I've come to the place where I have stopped asking for self-assurance and simply say, "Lord, increase my faith."