Are Confidence and Humility Opposites?

I want to be known. As someone who reads this blog, you should know that I have aspirations. I want this blog to grow. I hope to have something published someday. I long to speak and write to an audience. I love being a leader, and so I hope to have followers.

These aspirations are not necessarily bad. It is good to have goals.

But yet, it feels dangerous to admit these goals to you. Because I know they are not pure.

I could use Christian-speak if I wanted. I could talk about how this was all by God’s grace and for His Glory. I could write of my desire to use my gifts to honor Him. I could quote verses about living a life worthy of my calling and working as for the Lord in all things.

I could make these goals sound all holy and God-given. And maybe I can do that because in some ways they are.

But if I am honest, it is not all about God’s glory. It is also about my own. I want validation. I am unsure of my place in this blogosphere, and I want people to say that I am doing a good job. Recognition gives me confidence. Compliments push out the self-doubt inside of me.

And then I think about Jesus, and I puddle into a heap the floor. How can I claim to follow one so self-sacrificing when I am so self-serving?

At the Passover Feast, Jesus’ disciples were fighting over who was the greatest. I judge them for having this kind of ridiculous argument in front of Jesus. But is this all that different from my posturing and striving to be known?

Jesus responds by saying,

“I am among you as one who serves.” – Luke 22:27

And though we don’t know the timing of everything for sure, since Luke and John have different details of the Last Supper, I believe that this conversation was just before Jesus did the unbelievable.

Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him. – John 13:3-5

I love the way the book of John introduces the foot washing. Why did Jesus wash the disciples’ feet? It doesn’t say He wanted to shame them. Or that He was feeling bad about Himself.

Jesus’ humble actions were birthed from His confidence.

Jesus was confident in who God was and in what God had called Him to do.  Therefore, He got up from the meal and served.

Humility and confidence are often thought of as being opposites. But as I wrote about a few weeks ago, that cannot be true. Jesus was confident and humble at the same time.

Jesus knew He did not need to strive and stress and grasp to earn respect. He knew who He was and what God called Him to do. Jesus was free to serve and love without worry of how it would affect people’s opinion of Him.

So do I have to stop having goals or lower my expectations or stay in the shadows if I want to emulate Jesus? I don’t think so. But I do need to make sure my confidence is correctly placed. My confidence should be in my identity as a child of God. He loves me, died for me, and has a purpose for me. I can be secure in Christ, no matter what kind of recognition I do or do not receive. I can work, but I do not need to worry. I can seek, but I do not need to strive.

I do not need to view others in light of what they can give me. I can be confident in what God has already given me. And from that place, I can view others in light of what I can give them.  

I can serve with confident humility.

This is what Jesus saying "I am among you as one who serves" reveals to me. What does it reveal to you?

Read the post before this one: How do you respond to death?