Is confidence and humility mutually exclusive?
Instead of letting you read the whole post before getting to the answer, I’ll say it right at the beginning. Confidence and humility are not mutually exclusive. Confidence and humility need to go together, kinda like milk and cookies.
Confidence has a lot to do with how we perceive ourselves. What we think of ourselves affects the relationships we build, our careers, the kind of jobs we go for, our romantic lives and ultimately how other receive us.
And as a christian what you think of yourself has to be rooted in what God says about you. Here is what He says…
“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” – Ephesians 2:10
“I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well” – Psalms 139:14
“Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good…” – Genesis 1:31
So I am awesome because God has made me awesome.
God wants us to have confidence…in what He has done for us. That’s the important part. Having confidence in Him. David said he was great, because God made him great (Psalms 18:35). It is not wrong to believe that our awesome God has created an awesome creation, however it is wrong to believe that you are awesome apart from God. This is where humility (the milk) is needed to wash down the rich sweet taste of confidence (the cookie). See what I did there?
Often times we misunderstand what humility means. When someone compliments us for something we did, we put it down as if it was nothing and could have been done by anybody else; or we just become awkward when someone notices our talent; or we walk around with our heads low, because walking around with your head held high can be seen as being prideful.
Humility actually means having a low view of your own importance. When Jesus talks about humility, it is about service (see Matthew 20:26-27). Humility is not about putting yourself down, it is about putting others before you. C.S Lewis puts it like this,
A really humble man…will not be thinking about humility: he will not be thinking about himself at all.
So, what does humility have to do with confidence? When we shine because of the talent God has given us, or the miracles God has done in our lives, we are shining so that people can see God’s work. We show how His awesomeness has made us awesome and all the glory goes to God. When people notice our shine, we are not supposed to dim it, or have this false sense of humility, we are supposed to shine for Jesus, so that people can see our good works and honour Him.
Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven. – Matthew 5:16
An example of this is King Nebuchadnezzar (see Daniel 4). In Daniel 4:2,3 King Neb gives praise to God for what God has done for him. Then God sent him a dream to warn him not to place his confidence in himself but a year later in Daniel 4:30 King Neb places confidence in himself and gives himself the praise. God had to humble him to the point where he lives like an animal for 7 years, until he learnt that all the praise and honour belong to God (Daniel 4:37).
Samuel Brengle wrote,
The axe cannot boast of the trees it has cut down. It could do nothing but for the woodsmen. He made it, he sharpened it, and he used it. The moment he throws it aside; it becomes only old iron. O that I may never lose sight of this.
So, our confidence has to be rooted in God, the source of our awesomeness. We might think we are awesome because of our talent, our skill, and experience—but God reminds us we are awesome because He set it up that way.