A New and Different Confidence

It takes a lot of confidence to be a leader – confidence in who you are, in your ideas, and your ability to bring people together in the pursuit of common goals. Sadly, many leaders anchor their confidence in the wrong places. Some of us look to our personality, others to our education, some to our achievements, and others to our abilities. While there is nothing inherently wrong with any of that, there is a troubling common denominator. Ourselves.

Even when it comes to leadership development in the church, much of what we do is designed to increase our confidence in ourselves. We learn how to lead better meetings, preach better sermons, cast more compelling vision, and design more innovative ministries. Again, nothing wrong with that. Leaders who don’t know what they’re doing hurt a lot of people. So we should develop competence.

We just need to be aware that while we are working to develop competence, God is also working to develop brokenness.

“It is doubtful whether God can bless a man greatly until he has hurt him deeply.”

AW Tozer

We see this time and again in Scripture, with nearly every great leader in the Bible. Consider three quick examples. Moses spends 40 years in exile before he is called to lead the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt. David is tormented by Saul before he one day takes his place on the throne of Israel. Paul needed to be knocked to the ground before God could lift him up as a leader in the church.

Brokenness teaches us a new and different kind of confidence – a confidence rooted not in ourselves but in God’s love, character, promises, and purpose. Confidence rooted in God is noticeably different from confidence rooted in ourselves. Ego is replaced with humility. Competition is replaced by collaboration. Envy is replaced by celebration. Fear is replaced with courage. Insecurity is replaced by trust.

This confidence in God is what we need to aim for as followers of Jesus. Yes, pursue competence. But don’t fear brokenness. God is using both to prepare the kind of leaders His church desperately needs.

Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

Reordering Our Prayers

Praying

One of the clearest indications that we’re growing in our understanding of the gospel is a continuous reordering of our prayer lives.  What we chose to talk about when we’re alone with God is one of the best indicators of what’s important to us.  In a lot of ways, prayer is a wonderful diagnostic tool for our hearts.

All too often, I’m not comfortable with what my prayers reveal about my priorities.  Like most of us, I can be extremely self focused.  My prayers tend to be about me, my circumstances, my needs, my problems, my desires and how God can help me have a better day according to my definition of “better.”  Sometimes, it feels like other people, our church or our city only get thrown in at the end as a formality.  Praying for others is something “professional Christians” are supposed to do, so I make sure that box is checked.  But what often goes unprayed for is my own heart.  It seems like I’m more interested in my circumstances than my heart.

But as we grow in the gospel, that gets inverted.  All of the sudden, we find ourselves praying for our hearts more than our circumstances.  So, the new gospel shaped prayer priorities look like: my heart, others and then my circumstances.  No, there’s nothing wrong with asking for our daily bread or making our requests made known to God.  We’re told to do that (Matthew 6:11, Phil 4:6).  But the psalms filled with far more prayers for our hearts than for our circumstances.  Consider just a few:

  • “Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.” (Ps. 90:14)
  • “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.” (Ps. 51:10)
  • “My soul longs, yes, faints for the courts of the Lord; my heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God.” (Ps. 84:2)

The gospel shaped heart realizes it’s greatest enemy is the sin within, not the circumstances around.  So, we pray for our hearts.

Then, we pray for others.  As God transforms our hearts, we can’t help but look to the world around us.  We see needs, suffering, injustice and people desperate for a knowledge of Jesus.  All of it breaks a heart shaped by the gospel and that shows up in our prayers.

Finally, we get around to praying for those things the Father already knows we need.

So, what do your prayers say about your priorities?  Heart, others, circumstances.  Which gets top billing in your time with God?