You’ll often hear messages about building self-confidence. Some claim “Confidence in yourself is absolutely critical to living a joyful life.” (Huffpost)
Some also claim that Self-confidence is linked to almost every element involved in a happy and fulfilling life.
You have likely heard about how important it is to promote and build your self efficacy, self esteem, and self confidence.
When my wife and I graduated from college from BYU-Idaho, I expected to hear this type of “believe in yourself” message at the commencement ceremony. But the speaker gave this insight that forever changed the way I viewed self-confidence.
“If self-confidence is so critical to a happy life, why don’t I find any sermons on it in the scriptures? Why has God not told us how important self-confidence is and given guidance on how to build our self-confidence?”
In fact, as I study the scriptures they seem to teach the exact opposite of this. Here we find phrases like these:
Always remember “the greatness of God and your own nothingness. . . .” Mosiah 4:11.
“[C]ursed is he that putteth his trust in the arm of flesh.” 2 Nephi 4:34)
“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart and lean not to thine own understanding.” (Proverbs 3:5)
And we could cite many more. (See Ether 12:27, 37; Alma 26:11-12; Helaman 16:15; 2 Corinthians 12:10; 2 Timothy 3:1-2)
The scriptures present us with a paradox of sorts: we are children of God with limitless potential, but we achieve that potential—including eternal joy and happiness—only when we decide to trust completely and exclusively in God.
Thus, the scriptures advocate not self-confidence but “God-confidence.” [xiii]” – Douglas D. Holmes
King Benjamin teaches something similar. He tells us that God preserves us from day to day, lending us breath, that we may live and move—even supporting us from one moment to another (see Mosiah 2:21), and that all we have and are come from him (see Mosiah 4:21).
Let me ask you this, if we live and move and have our being in him (see Acts 17:28), where is self-esteem? Where is there room for self confidence if we are “alive in Christ”? How do I even separate my self out from the abundant grace that comes from the Savior? Do I really need more of me? Or is what am looking for, really more of HIM?
12 Yea, I know that I am anothing; as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will bnot boast of myself, but I will cboast of my God, for in his dstrength I can do all ethings; yea, behold, many mighty miracles we have wrought in this land, for which we will praise his name forever.”
For Ammon, it seems, the whole concept of self-esteemwas irrelevant. Being filled with the love of God was of far greater worth than any sense of self-confidence.
We all have fears, insecurities, doubts, and worries. We wonder how to help others that are struggling. We experience guilt, despair, resentment, self-pity, fear, depression, feelings of victimization, fear over the scarcity of needed things, and other forms of distress. Many claim that the solution is in building your self esteem or self confidence. But the pursuit of self-esteem will not solve the problems of the self. It will not even solve the problems of those who suffer from others’ sins against them.
The answer we seek, is found in God. Not in yourself.
For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.Matthew 16:25
We find our true selves, not as we focus on ourselves, but as we lose ourselves in serving others. That’s when we’ll see the most talents and gifts come out. That’s when we will find ourselves with confidence, is after we lose ourselves serving God.
The answers to your challenges, are found as you learn God’s will and do it. You don’t need more self confidence. You don’t need the circumstances to change. You need to change by coming to God and letting your confidence wax strong before Him.
“The great test of life is obedience to God. “We will prove them herewith,” said the Lord, “to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them” (Abr. 3:25).
The great task of life is to learn the will of the Lord and then do it.
The great commandment of life is to love the Lord.”Ezra Taft Benson The Great Commandment
Let me suggest a few ways to Bolster your “God Confidence.”
1. Remember that You’re nothing…
I would that ye should remember, and always retain in remembrance, the greatness of God, and your own nothingness, and his goodness and long-suffering towards you. . . .
. . . if ye do this ye shall always rejoice, and be filled with the love of God, and always retain a remission of your sins. [Mosiah 4:11–12]
We recoil at being told we are “nothing” because we try so hard to overcome our feelings of unimportance. But nothingness doesn’t mean we lack value. We may be nothing compared to God, but we mean EVERYTHING to him. Nothingness is a reminder of our all-encompassing need for the Lord.
Elder Richard G. Scott shared his sacred the impressions that came to him during a period when he struggled to do a work the Lord had given him far beyond his personal capacity to fulfill. The Lord said to him, “Testify to instruct, edify, and lead others to full obedience, not to demonstrate anything of self. All who are puffed up shall be cut off.” And then the Lord said to him, “‘You are nothing in and of yourself, Richard.’ That was followed with some specific counsel on how to be a better servant” (“Acquiring Spiritual Knowledge,” )
Our grand objective of earth life is to exercise Faith not in ourselves, but in Jesus Christ. We are to exercise faith unto repentance and gain access to the grace of Jesus Christ for our trials and divine development. If we remember this, we will immediately realize that self-confidence is a puny substitute for God-confidence.
2. Trust God to do His work
There was this covenant keeping community of believers that came into captivity. Their enemies persecuted them and set guards over them. They were put to death for praying. But the believers prayed in their hearts and the Lord heard their prayers. He responded with.
Lift up your heads and be of good comfort, for I know of the covenant which ye have made unto me; and I will covenant with my people and deliver them out of bondage. And I will also ease the burdens which are put upon your shoulders, that even you cannot feel them upon your backs, even while you are in bondage; and this will I do that ye may stand as witnesses for me hereafter, and that ye may know of a surety that I, the Lord God, do visit my people in their afflictions.Mosiah 24:13–14
The people found relief from their challenges even without the circumstances changing. “And now it came to pass that the burdens which were laid upon Alma and his brethren were made light; yea, the Lord did strengthen them that they could bear up their burdens with ease, and they did submit cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord” (Mosiah 24:15).
Many of us may assume this scripture is suggesting that a burden suddenly and permanently will be taken away. The next verse, however, describes how the burden was eased.
“And now it came to pass that the burdens which were laid upon Alma and his brethren were made light; yea, the Lord did strengthen them that they could bear up their burdens with ease, and they did submit cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord” (Mosiah 24:15; emphasis added).
The challenges and difficulties were not immediately removed from the people. But Alma and his followers were strengthened, and their increased capacity made the burdens lighter. These people turned to God for their confidence. They trusted Him to relieve them from bondage. These good people were empowered through the Atonement to act as agents (see D&C 58:26–29) and impact their circumstances.
The Savior said:
“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
“Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
“For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28–30).
A yoke is a wooden beam, normally used between a pair of oxen or other animals that enables them to pull together on a load. A yoke places animals side-by-side so they can move together in order to accomplish a task.
We are not and never need be alone. We can press forward in our daily lives with heavenly help. If you come to God, trust Him, place Confidence in Him, He can do His work in your life. For him to do His work, you must come unto Him.
We know people that we want so desperately to help. People that would be so much happier if they could find the peace of the gospel of Jesus Christ. We may feel as Alma did.
O that I were an angel, and could have the wish of mine heart, that I might go forth and speak with the a trump of God, with a voice to shake the earth, and cry repentance unto every people!
Yea, I would declare unto every soul, as with the voice of thunder, repentance and the plan of redemption, that they should repent and a come unto our God, that there might not be more sorrow upon all the face of the earth.
These verses touch my heart. They are my own desires for many dear friends and family members. I just want to declare repentance unto them and let them no longer have sorrow!
But Alma says something interesting in the next verse that has always confused me.
3 But behold, I am a man, and do sin in my wish; for I ought to be content with the things which the Lord hath allotted unto me.
Why does he say he’s sinning in this wish? Seems like such a good desire to be like an angel and declare repentance unto all. What’s wrong with that?
One thought comes to my mind, Alma is recognizing that he should be allowing the Lord to do His work- in the Lord’s way and timing. That he should be content with what the Lord is doing through him.
The Lord tells us “I am able to do mine own work.” – 2 Nephi 27:21 Trust His timing. Trust His ability to save. After you’ve done all you can, trust that He can do what you can’t.
We live in a fallen world. We’ve made mistakes. Our sins produce bitterness and make us suffer. If we don’t repent frequently and we let the sins continue, we will experience unhappiness. We may even forget or not recognize where the source of unhappiness is coming from. We’ll think it has to do with the people around us, or we will think it has to do with our circumstances.
But Elder Neal A. Maxwell observes: “The heaviest load we feel is often from the weight of our unkept promises and our unresolved sins, which press down relentlessly upon us” (CR, October 1989, p. 106; also, “Murmur Not,” Ensign, November 1989, p. 85).
You’ll never feel more confident than when you feel clean and forgiven from your sins. Those who want more confidence and faith in God must believe that they are doing His will. They must believe “that the course of life which they pursue is according to the will of God, in order that they may be enabled to exercise faith in him unto life and salvation.” (Lectures on Faith)
We are hit by the philosophies of man that are just sprinkled with truth. Often, they invite us to “be lovers of our own selves” which leads to us coveting what we don’t posses, boasting of our own successes, and becoming proud of our self-conceived superiority to others.
These messages from the world don’t gain credibility based on truth, rather they gain momentum based on popularity. Search Engine Optimization on Google doesn’t have algorithms to blog posts based on their level of truth found in content. Neither does your social media have any truth filters on what you’ll see.
I remember striving for obedience on my mission when at times, the missionaries around me would not. They got angry with me for my attempts to follow the rules. As I increased my God Confidence- the ability to handle these challenges also increased. When I would begin a new transfer with a new companion, I would declare “I love the Lord so much. So I will be obedient. I invite you to do the same. Will you help this companionship to follow the rules?
I had some very difficult companions, but even they respected these desires and some said they had never had a time they had been more obedient than when they were with me. And as a result, they had never felt greater confidence in God.
Do not be afraid to be bold- in God. Find His will and do it. Not because you’re confident in yourself, but because you’re confident in Him.
Our Savior is always our example. Look at how he refers to his self.
1. “The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise” (John 5:19).
2. “I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things” (John 8:28).
3. “The words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works” (John 14:10).
Moroni wrote that the resurrected, perfected Christ spoke to him in “plain humility” (Ether 12:39).
Elder Maxwell observed that “The Savior—the brightest individual ever to walk this planet—never sought to ‘prosper’ or to ‘conquer’ ‘according to his genius’ and ‘strength’!” (See Alma 30:17.)
President Benson pointed out that “Christ removed self as the force in His perfect life. It was not my will, but thine be done” (CR, 5 April 1986, p. 6; also, “Cleansing the Inner Vessel,” Ensign, May 1986)
Alma identified the precept that man prospers by his own resources as the doctrine of the antichrist (see Alma 30:17).
Mormon writes that “the pride of this nation, or the people of the Nephites, hath proven their destruction.” (Moro. 8:27.) The Lord says in the Doctrine and Covenants, “Beware of pride, lest ye become as the Nephites of old.” (D&C 38:39.)
Essentially, pride is a “my will” rather than “thy will” approach to life. The opposite of pride is humbleness, meekness, submissiveness (see Alma 13:28), or teachableness.
Pride does not look up to God and care about what is right. It looks sideways to man and argues who is right. Pride is manifest in the spirit of contention.
Christ removed self as the force in His perfect life. It was not my will, but thine be done. God Confidence instead of Self Confidence.
Self Confidence is found in “What do I want out of life?” rather than by “What would God have me do with my life?” It is self-will as opposed to God’s will. It is the fear of man over the fear of God.
God Confidence responds to God’s will—to the fear of His judgments and the needs of those around us. To the self confident, the applause of the world rings in their ears; to the God Confident, the applause of heaven warms their hearts.