True Confidence Vs. False Bravado: How Fighting Insecurity Makes Us Insecure

Anonymous asked:

I realized that I wasn’t as confident as I ought to be and in that period, I sought help from these youtube male confidence-coaching/life coaching channels. They can teach good things like speaking your mind, not being so self-conscious … but then there’s the drive to when it comes to attracting a woman – being an alpha (not a beta) male; walking with confidence, and just a number of other things that just make me so anxious and uncomfortable … What would a Christian notion of true male confidence even be? How does the ‘alpha-male’ notion stand up? Thanks again for your dedication for allowing God to use you to bless others, brother.

Hey there dear friend, I appreciate your honesty since I know it probably wasn’t easy to ask.

I think the main problem with “coaching” about male confidence or any other particular standard is that it inevitably becomes a contest with no goal. It’s a completely arbitrary, random finish-line that we’ll never be happy with. Any kind of “level” we’re trying to reach is going to be another burden, whether it’s a Twelve Top Things To Be A Man type of list or Five Steps to a Better You. Even a three-point sermon eventually becomes a guilt-trip that leaves us feeling like we’ll never make it.

The Christian Gospel is never about adding burdens on, but taking burdens off. This means that “striving for the ideal” is ultimately a phantom concept that implodes from the inside. Whether it’s the Christian trying to stay pure or the athlete going for gold or a businessman making the next dollar: all these goals, while good and important, cannot be the sum of a whole person.

Trying to be confident will always defeat itself, because it never knows when to rest or be content. It’s a kind of legalism that operates out of the human problem: a self-justifying heart that must bolster the ego or be motivated by fear. Both will kill us. Even the most “macho” looking dude is either operating out of prideful vanity or fearful self-shaming.

I think these coaches can say good things and it can be good to pick up tips from them, but really they’re only covering symptoms of a larger problem. It’s like pruning a tree but never watering the roots. The way the world works is to reach higher, better, faster, sharper, and more. But as you’ve found, this is such a neurotic self-measuring anxiety that it collapses.

True confidence, perhaps ironically, means you don’t really care about having it. As C.S. Lewis says, to give a good first impression you must not try to make a good first impression, and then it will happen by itself. How does someone do that? How does someone inherently, naturally, instinctively have a security so strong that they don’t care what anyone thinks, yet loves them too?

The more I understood Christianity, the more I found that it gave me a type of anchor where my confidence was not found in the opinion of others or even from myself, but from a permanent grace that did not fluctuate based on my performance.

Either we’re relying on our own work to “save” ourselves, or we’re relying on Jesus’s work to save us. This is a very counter-intuitive idea, because we’ve been so indoctrinated in achieving masculinity and success and power. The Gospel says that all the work we’ve been trying to do has already been done by Jesus, and it’s from this work, not for, that we can begin to do any real good at all. That’s why Jesus’s yoke is light and without burden (Matthew 11:28-30).

Maybe this sounds too abstract & ethereal, but I’ll put it this way. I love my wife, but not to stay married: it’s because we are already married. I have a confidence she will not leave, and because I know that the person I love also loves me, I can move into the world with a transcendent confidence – because no matter what happens in the world, I have a home with a love stronger than my circumstances.

Now if I can feel that with a human being, imagine such a relationship with God. We’d have a humble confidence. We would not be too prideful, because we are sinners, but we would not be too fearful, because we are loved.

It’s possible you know all this already, and it can be a long process to absorb this truth in us. But such is faith: it awakens to the reality of who God is and what He’s done through His Son, and so we become a different kind of people.

— J.S.

7 thoughts on “True Confidence Vs. False Bravado: How Fighting Insecurity Makes Us Insecure

  1. I love your statement in your article “The Christian Gospel is never about adding burdens on, but taking burdens off.”

    So timely and true! I know in my early walk with the Lord I tried to follow all the rules and it became a burden! But as I allowed the Holy Spirit to change me, renew me, and mold me into the image of Jesus Christ being a follower of Christ was no longer a burden but a joy and a way of life!


    1. Yes! God gives us the power to follow Him.

      “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
      — Matthew 11:28-30


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