Humble Confidence by Chaz Bell
What do you picture of when you hear the word humility? Now what do you picture when you hear the word confidence? Compare the two images. How do they contrast each other? Were they drastically different? I would have to say for me, they used to be opposites. This was a difficult thing for me to grasp as a young Christian. I thought the business of being saved hinged on humility. Was that not what becoming a Christian was about? Knowing that you messed up and asking God to come fix it. Humility, in my mind, was recognizing your flaws. At least that’s how I used to see it. Now I know they are one and the same and it all comes down to identity.
Now track with me for a minute. Don’t stop reading. Trust me. This train of thought has a caboose. When I was growing up in the church, it was pounded in my head to be humble and meek. You shouldn't think you know anything. You should never cause conflict. To me humility became synonymous with passivity and weakness. I started to believe that to be humble was to be a push over. It seemed to me that to adopt a posture of humility meant that I needed to view myself as unimportant. As I started reading scripture more and more for myself, I began to see that Jesus’s actions did not line up with my idea of humility. Scripture says He taught with authority. He called the Pharisees out on their junk several times. He went toe to toe with demons and won. He boldly told a storm to stop and it did. These were not the actions of a man who thought He was unimportant. He was not weak and passive and He certainly didn’t avoid conflict. In fact, He seemed to create it. So was so confident and yet scripture describes Him as the humble servant. So how to we embody these two seemingly conflicting characteristics?
It all comes down to self worth. For the longest time, I thought that humility was recognizing my lowly state. I struggled having confidence in God’s love because I saw myself as unworthy of love. Like I was this big charity case that God took on because He’s God and that’s His job. In this “humility”, I couldn’t understand why God would love me. I felt like my worth and value to God was dependent on what I could give back to Him and no matter what I gave to Him it was never enough to make myself worthy of the price He paid. Then I became a father. Suddenly, I understood what it was to love someone for no other reason than because you made them. When my daughter, Melody, was born, God broke this false humility that had held back His love for me for so long. I looked at my daughter and knew that I would give anything for her and she was minutes old. She had never done anything for me and at that very moment had already cost me so much, but who she was, was worth every bit of it and so much more. God spoke to me in the weeks that followed and told me again and again, that was how He love me.
It’s like this. When I was growing up there was a TV series called “Antiques Roadshow.” These people were appraisers, professionals at recognizing the value of things. Whenever the show came to town people would come from all around bringing old toys, furniture, and paintings. It all looked like a bunch of junk and a lot of it was. To the untrained eye, these things were pretty much worthless. Most of the stuff you wouldn’t spend a dollar on at a garage sale, but every once in a while the appraisers would find a piece of furniture that was priceless. They would turn it over and see etched on the bottom the name of a famous artisan and people would lose their minds. This coffee table was collecting dust in the attic of my house and little did I know, it was worth more than my house. The only difference between something of great value and common junk was who made it. It was the creator that gave the masterpiece it's great value. This was what made it worth any price you would pay for it.
Suddenly, I was able to rest in my value to God. His love for me was not contingent on anything I had done. I was able to accept His grace and love and have confidence because of it and that’s when I realized that this was true humility. When you know what your worth, you don’t need to fight for significance any more. Your value is no longer on the table, so you are able to walk the lowly places with confidence because they don’t define your worth. The great thing about your value being tied to your creator, is that you inevitably realize that everyone else’s value is too. You sudden find that being a servant is easier because isn’t an affront to your value but an expression of the value of others. CS Lewis said it like this, “Humility is not thinking less of yourself but thinking of yourself less.” When we know where our value lies, we stop searching for significance and start living lives of significance. Lives lived with humble confidence.