When I was a young woman and a new Christian, I used to swoon in the presence of the Confident Christian Male. I’m sure you’ve met these Alpha Omega types: they command a room as soon as they effect their entrance, and declare wisdom in measured, even tones.
Fearless and self-assured, they pronounce judgment upon everything from the proper way to pray to sound business acumen, and after five minutes in their presence, you’re convinced that you need only do what they do and obey what they say, and you will succeed in life.
Frequently, they wind up — or rather, put themselves in — positions of leadership, where numbers of people fall under their spell. I am happy to say that I am no longer one of these people — I don’t know, maybe it’s that post-age-40 female thing, when we realize we know more than we think we do, but I started looking at what people say, versus how they live, and I began to be unimpressed. (Look up the traditional definition for “confidence man,” sometime.)
I’ve Met This Person, Before
After years of dealing with these people, a general conspectus emerges: Phenomenal Spiritual Business Man who does everything from provide financial consulting services to write children’s books (EVERYONE writes children’s books, from Rush Limbaugh on down; do we seriously think that children have no literary standards?). He has outwardly obedient kids and a docile wife, frequently “serves” as an elder or senior deacon in a church, and when I am unfortunate enough to have to do business with him, he is convinced that the sheer magnetism of his voice is enough to secure my compliance. I’m just a little lady, after all, and given that I’m a Christian little lady, then it follows without question that I will follow him without thought.
On a larger scale, he hosts a television or radio show, “comments” on the news, conducts seminars, or writes books that we are all instructed to read.
He is a leader — dynamic, charismatic, sanguine, and bold — and the sheer positiveness of his message is the reason why we believe it. Humans crave security, and when another human promises it — through the seductive forcefulness of his words — we fall into line, behind him.
Confidence versus Humility
But is this wise?
And does confidence necessarily mean godliness? Or aptitude?
I think not.
One of the greatest human leaders of all time was Moses, who is described in Numbers 12: 3 as ” . . . a very humble man, more humble than anyone on the face of the earth.” So unwilling was he to put himself forward that he argued five times with God about taking a leadership role that the average Prosperity Preacher would consider beneath his skills, with a final request of,
“O Lord, please send someone else to do it.”
But God chooses the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, the weak things of the world to shame the strong (1 Corinthians 1: 27), something we might remember when Confidence Man prods us into the corner and intimidates us to acquiesce, because he is big, strong, presumptuous, and right.
Yes, I know — you, and I, are small, weak, vacillating, unsure of ourselves, not particularly wealthy, and singularly unimportant.
Jesus: Meek, and a Leader
This might be a good time to remember that Jesus in Matthew 11: 29 describes Himself as “gentle and humble in heart,” and His Beatitudes of Matthew 5 list out attributes — which Christ considers well worth desiring — that are the total opposite of what we learn in Personal Development Seminars.
When the Bible talks about confidence, it doesn’t position the word “self” in the front:
“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)
“(I am) confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philipppians 1: 6)
If you are unsure of yourself, that’s okay — I’d be unsure of yourself, too. I know I’m unsure of myself. But the one Person who’s worth being sure of — because He’s perfect, and strong, and wise, and compassionate, and powerful — is Jesus Christ, and He tells us this:
“All things have been committed to me by my Father.” (Matthew 11: 27) That’s a pretty sound recommendation.
If you’re going to worship anyone, make sure it’s someone worth worshiping, and the only one who fits that description is Christ. He’s worthy of your worship, and He’s worthy of your trust: don’t give it to anyone else.
Thank you for joining me at Commonsense Christianity where I see two kinds of Christians — those who follow Christ, read His words, and listen for His voice — and those who depend upon others to tell them what to do and how to think.
Do, do, do strive to be the first type of Christian.
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