Confidence can be quiet

Sometimes people are just loud. They’re loud about what they think is right, what they think is wrong, and how everyone should agree with them because they know what they’re talking about. But when you’re around someone who’s spouting off like that, do you really think they’re just overly confident? Or is there something else at work deep below what you can see?

There’s loud and then there’s compensating. I know loud people, and they can be the most confident, most exciting, most encouraging people in the world. They just get excited, and when they’re excited, they’re loud.

But people who are compensating are loud and hard to listen to. People who are insecure say things that are designed to hurt, worded just right to hurt, and dotted with enough hurtful words to tear others down just enough to give them a boost in their own sense of self-worth.

3584C14F39Today’s verses are 1 Samuel 13:10-14.

Just as Saul was finishing with the burnt offering, Samuel arrived. Saul went out to meet and welcome him, but Samuel said, “What is this you have done?” Saul replied, “I saw my men scattering from me, and you didn’t arrive when you said you would, and the Philistines are at Micmash ready for battle. So I said, ‘The Philistines are ready to march against us at Gilgal, and I haven’t even asked for the Lord’s help!’ So I felt compelled to offer the burnt offering myself before you came.”

“How foolish!” Samuel exclaimed. “You have not kept the command the Lord your God gave you. Had you kept it, the Lord would have established your kingdom over Israel forever. But now your kingdom must end, for the Lord has sought out a man after his own heart. The Lord has already appointed him to be the leader of his people, because you have not kept the Lord’s command.”

Saul was the first king of Israel, chosen when the people decided they wanted to be like everybody else and have a king people could see. And boy did they get a winner. Yes, that was facetious.

Maybe he started out strong, but Saul had a little problem with insecurity. Okay, it was a big problem, and it only got bigger as he got older. If you read his life (1 Samuel 8 through 31), you’ll see the same pattern over and over again, the same mistakes, the same flaws, the same foolish decisions.

Every decision Saul made was to cover his tracks, to make himself look better, or to point out the flaws of someone else. Like today’s verses. Saul knew he was supposed to wait for Samuel. Maybe it doesn’t sound right to our 21st Century American ears, but that’s how it worked in Israel back then. And Saul knew that, but he let his insecurity get the better of him, and he broke the rules. And then, instead of admitting that what he’d done was wrong, he blamed others. He got loud about it.

Saul was a loud king because he was an insecure king. And the same truth is still true today. The loud people, the ones who rely on noise and chaos to make a point, are insecure. You’ve heard that it’s the quiet ones you have to watch out for, and that’s true.

That’s a big difference between confidence and insecurity. Like meekness is controlled strength, confidence is calm control. If you’re confident, you don’t need to talk trash. You don’t need to shout at people. You don’t need to pitch a fit or throw a tantrum. You’re confident, so you can be quiet.

And let’s face it, a confident person is much more impressive than a loud, blustering one.

How do you get confidence then? Well, that comes back to where your confidence is rooted. If the source of your confidence is your own abilities and knowledge, I’d suggest looking for someplace else to put down roots. No, God provides the ultimate source of confidence and the more we dig into Him and get to know Him better, the more confidence we’ll have.

So the next time you run into someone who’s screaming about something or someone who’s angry all the time or you just run across a loud person who likes to bother people, keep this in mind. Maybe they’re just being loud and blustery to hide the fact that they’re really scared. Maybe they hate the way they look. Maybe they doubt their own abilities. Maybe they are just afraid.

Give them a chance, maybe even the benefit of the doubt. They might just be acting like a blowhard to try to prove that they know what they’re doing. That doesn’t necessarily mean that they do. But when you interact with them, be kind and humble. You can be confident and still kind, and confidence isn’t another word for arrogance.

Love them regardless.

Wearing a crown doesn’t make you better than the crownless

Do you know people who won’t take you seriously because you’re not important enough? I’ve met of few of those. And, honestly, it used to bother me.

Some people see your job title and decide whether or not you’re worth their time. Other people look at your clothes or the way you talk or the car you drive. We all make judgment calls on people. Let’s face it. We do. But how many of us actually judge whether someone is individually worth our time based on what they look like or based on what station in life they currently happen to be in?

It’s hurtful. Because I’m more than the clothes I’m wearing. I’m more than my job title (or lack thereof). And just because I don’t happen to have trails of letters after my name doesn’t make me less intelligent than someone with a PhD. And it certainly doesn’t give anybody the right to call me less important than someone else.

But more and more I see people rating others, their intellect or their worth, based on external factors. And the only explanation I can come up with for it is that we’re falling deeper and deeper into our own pride. But pride has never been the source of success or peace. It’s actually the opposite.

arroganceToday’s verse is Proverbs 3:34.

The Lord mocks the mockers
    but is gracious to the humble.

This is one of those verses that shoes up all over the Bible. I know this same verse is quoted in both James and I Peter. And if there’s one simple thing to know about the Bible, it’s this: If God repeats Himself, you really want to pay attention.

Other versions of this little Proverb say that “God opposes the proud.” I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be on the side against God. Just saying. I don’t think that sounds like a very secure future.

I know how this life ends. I don’t want to be on the side that God opposes.

The solution is simple. Stop relying on your pride. Don’t be proud.

I said it was simple. Not easy. Because pride is really the root of all our sin. We want to do things our way, not God’s. We want to live our own way, not the way God says is right. And we don’t care what He says. At least, we don’t care until we have to face the consequences of our choices. Then we beg forgiveness and grace, and because God is gracious, He forgives. But once life straightens out again, how many of us go back to making the same stupid choices all over again?

No one person is more important to God than another. God doesn’t play favorites. He never has. He loves us all equally, regardless of history or family or choices. There’s nothing you can do to make Him love you more. Likewise, there’s nothing you can do to make Him love you less.

So why do we get it in our heads that some Christians are better loved than others? That’s our pride talking. Because pride makes us think we can be sufficient. Pride tricks us into believing that God judges on the curve, and He doesn’t.

Maybe you’ve worked hard to achieve your status, and that’s great and wonderful. But please don’t convince yourself that you are solely responsible for it. You’re not. Favor comes from God. Opportunity comes from God. And you’re where you are because God gave you talent and drive and health. Now, it’s up to you to recognize it. Many people don’t, but it doesn’t change the facts.

So the next time you’re tempted to think that super annoying person you’re talking to isn’t worth your time, take a moment and really ask yourself why you believe that. Are you making that call because you don’t like the way they dress? Do you feel that way because they are on a lower pay grade than you?

Granted, if the person you want to avoid is a fool, that’s a different story entirely, and there are biblical definitions for those kinds of people. And you should absolutely run away from those sorts of people. But not everybody is a fool (thank God). More likely, we just let our insecurities get the best of us, and we convince ourselves that we’re superior for some reason that doesn’t really matter.

Just give him or her the benefit of the doubt. Don’t jump to a conclusion about someone just because they are different from you or work in a different industry. After all, you may king of your own little world right now, but that doesn’t mean someday you won’t lose your crown. And then you’ll wish for someone to treat you like an equal.

Don’t wait until then to learn the lesson.

God opposes the proud, but He gives grace to the humble. So be humble. And maybe it’s a lesson you won’t have to learn the hard way.

Ivy in autumn - Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

The dangers of arrogance

Arrogant people bother me. How about you? And I’m not talking about confident people either. Confidence is different than arrogance. Confidence is a surety of self or action or perspective; arrogance is bragging about it.

Ivy in autumn - Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Ivy in autumn - Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Today’s verse is Habakkuk 2:5.

Wealth is treacherous, and the arrogant are never at rest. They open their mouths as wide as the grave, and like death, they are never satisfied. In their greed they have gathered up many nations and swallowed many peoples.

Have you ever met an arrogant person? Someone who is so boastful, so proud of their accomplishments that he or she can’t stand to sit at home and just be? Boastful, proud people usually have to go out and tell other people all of their accomplishments. And they never stop because they can never get enough attention or fame or credit or influence. And they’re never satisfied, just like death.

Why is that? Have you ever tried to get into an arrogant person’s head? Sometimes I can understand why they feel the need to be arrogant, but most of the time I don’t get it. Maybe it’s because I’m just not a very confident person, but I can’t imagine being arrogant about anything, especially if there is a lot on the line.

I was curious about some of the phrasing in this verse, especially, the arrogant are never at rest. What does that mean? Well, I looked at it in the Amplified Version, and this is what it says: “restless and cannot stay at home.” I wasn’t really sure about that, but the more I thought about it, the more I think it’s probably true.

Arrogant people are constantly busy running around, getting involved in other peoples’ lives and business. They aren’t content to stay home and be. They have to stay busy. They have to stay active. They have to stay visible. And they have to interfere. At least, that’s the way the ones I know behave. And they have to do all that because if they don’t (in their mind) people will forget about them.

So really, arrogance doesn’t stem from confidence. It stems from insecurity.

 So what does this mean for us?

Well, no one likes an arrogant person. Let’s just be honest about that. Arrogant people rub everybody the wrong way. So it should be our goal to not be arrogant. And again, I’m talking about being confident because there’s a difference. Although, I’ve met some confident people who act arrogant, and while their arrogance is somewhat founded because they really do know what they’re doing, it’s still not pleasant to be around. You can be humble and confident at the same time.

So what about dealing with an arrogant person? How do you manage that when you really just want to pop them in the nose?

I’m a strong believer in second and third and even fourth chances for people I don’t even like. If you’re someone I love and you do something that hurts me, sorry to tell you but you’re still stuck with me. That’s just the way friendship works for me. But if someone I’m not really friends with does something against me, usually I’m still okay with forgiving them and giving them another opportunity to show me that they aren’t like that all the time.

So when I run across an arrogant person, I try to look past the bravado and the facade on the outside and see the hurting person underneath. I try to encourage them to be themselves. I try to help the insecurity go away, because if you can eliminate the insecurity, the arrogance fades too.

But there’s only so much you can do and you have to be careful. It’s just like a relationship with someone you’re trying to help get out of a sin. An arrogant person can drag you down. More often than not, arrogant people have gotten me into situations where I have to bail myself out. Why? Because I thought I would give them a chance to prove that they really did know what they were doing … and it turned out that they didn’t.

All that to say, trusting an arrogant person can be dangerous. Being close friends with an arrogant person can be harmful. Not saying you shouldn’t be friends with them (if you can stand them), but just remember that someone who is walking around talking about all the great things he or she can do or has done doesn’t mean that he or she actually can accomplish what they say.  

Give arrogant people a chance. Love them for who they are. Encourage them so that they don’t have to feel insecure about whatever it is they feel insecure about. But if they don’t listen, if they don’t hear, step back. Get out of their lives. Because arrogant people really are like death: they’re never satisfied, they’re always greedy, and they won’t care who they take down with them.