The Confidence Factor

What is confidence and how does it help us live our calling everyday?  In a recent Harvard Business Review ‘Best Practices’ blog, Tony Schwartz, the president and CEO of The Energy Project and the author of Be Excellent at Anything: The Four Keys to Transforming the Way We Work and Live is quoted as saying: ”Confidence equals security equals positive emotion equals better performance.”  He is spot on. But how do you build confidence? One word: Experience. Experience creates the “Confidence equals security equals positive emotion equals better performance.

Today, in my time of spiritual reflection and prayer, I read the story of the Israelite Prophet Elijah (the story is found in 1 Kings 17-19). Elijah was a man of confidence because Elijah gained his confidence through experience. There are several things to note about how his experiences built confidence:

(1) Complete Your Assignments. 1 Kings 17:9-24, Elijah is given the assignment of going to a certain widow’s home who was going to supply Elijah with food. One problem. This widow didn’t have enough food to feed herself and her son, let alone Elijah. She was planning to die. Elijah goes to the widow as assigned. Elijah makes an incredible prediction built on God’s assignment (1 Kings 17:14: “her flour and oil will not run out until the rainy season comes”). During his stay with the widow, her son dies. Tempers flare. Elijah turns to God (who’d given him this assignment) and pleads for mercy. And just like the miraculous provision of flour and oil, God miraculously extends the son’s life.  Completed Assignments bring security.

(2) Move Forward Boldly Trusting (“positive emotion”). 1 Kings 18 is the classic confrontation of Elijah and the Prophets of Baal. But what we often fail to remember is that Elijah believed he was the only Prophet of God left. And yet here he is, standing before the Nation’s King who was evil personified (Ahab), standing before 850 prophets of Baal and Asherah supported by the King with the nation of Israel watching. Lesser men would crumble at such an assignment. But Elijah not only stands before them but taunts them as they perform their duties. Elijah Moved Boldly into this Assignment because he had complete trust in the God who had miraculously supplied food and raised a dead boy to life. Elijah believed that the LORD was God and He would reveal Himself to all.

(3) Stay in the Game (“better performance”). 1 Kings 19 we see Elijah running to the mountain of God apparently trying to encounter God and experience affirmation with a little whining tossed in the mix.  But God reminds Elijah that ministry and kingdom advancement is in the valley not on the mountain top. God questions Elijah twice, asking him “why are you here?” Then God sends Elijah back into the valley to finish his work, and in essence says: ‘Now is not the time to rest. Now is the time to work. The time of resting will come, but now is not that day so get back into the battle Elijah. Stay in the Game.’

How is your confidence these days? Are you building it by Completing your Assignments, Moving Boldly Forward, Staying in the Game until the finish?

Are there other ways you are building confidence?

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