Bold Confidence

At first glance, these two words together might sound redundant. As a friend of mine pointed out during a worship study she conducted with the same title (This post is based on my notes from her study… it was soo good!).

The thing is, I have been toying with the idea of those words since I heard another person that I admire greatly, put them together. As an adjective, bold means ‘(of a person, action, or idea) showing a willingness to take risks; confident and courageous’ while the word confidence means ‘the feeling or belief that one can have faith in or rely on someone or something.’ So really, when we break it down to the definitions, maybe these words are actually more powerful put together than apart. I really believe in the power of the word. Whether it is written, spoken or thought, words either hold the power to build us up or to tear us down! But before I begin a grand soliloquy on the power of words, I will continue the thought I had about bold confidence. If confidence is the feeling or belief that one can have faith in or rely on someone or something, then that will fuel our boldness, which is the willingness to take risks; confidently and courageously. I believe more and more that this is how we are to live out our faith and the things that we are most passionate about. The thing is, that Jesus Christ is the one to study and learn from and when I see Him, I see a strong, courageous and risk taking, loving leader. One of the reasons for why I see that is by reading verses like the one in John 15:13 which says ‘Greater love has no one than this, that a person lay down his life for his friends’. Now that is what I call a great friend! A person that loves you so much, he/she would put themselves in harms way rather than allowing you to suffer! And the key to being able to deal with so much suffering is found in that four letter word that everybody loooooves to talk about or sing about. Yes, you guessed it, it’s food! No, just kidding, I was going to say love.

Love is the force strong enough to put others first and even to throw yourself in front of a moving bus in order to shield the person or people that we love. What sort of power does boldness and confidence give us? (Hebrews 4:16) ‘Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need’.

This confidence, fueled by love, burning within us from Jesus himself is what gives us that bold confidence.

The confidence to come to Jesus no matter what we have done, or what we haven’t done, is what we each need to develop. Rather than doing something wrong and hiding it, our God actually asks us to come to him so that he can heal us and free us. We have to believe that the freedom that we are given and asked to take, is an act of faith in itself. John 8:36 proves this by saying that “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.” Another verse confirms where our true confidence should lie no matter what happens around us, or in our own homes…

Philippians 1:6 Being confident of this very thing, that he which has begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:

This is where our confidence lies. Not in what skills and talents I can bring to the table but in what Jesus brings and from what we know of the stories in the bible, we know that he never comes empty. When we daily lean on the Word of God and absorb and believe what we read then our faith and confidence will grow and it will grow until we will find ourselves being a bright light wherever you are.

Hebrews 10:35 Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward.

Jump in the deep end! It’s worth it…

I was recently chatting with a friend about the joys and in their opinion, mostly woes of canvassing. If you have not heard of canvassing before, it is basically going door to door in a neighbourhood selling, in this case, books. It is a very challenging and exciting way of working and if the idea of knocking on stranger’s doors while having 30 seconds to explain why you have knocked on their door and quickly think of how you would sell your books to that particular individual sounds awesome to you, then my friend, you are a canvasser! If the idea of knocking on a complete stranger’s door while having to juggle all the aforementioned things sounds completely terrifying as well as possibly death incurring then you my friend, are not alone. Although not exactly public speaking, the fear that is often associated with the act of door knocking can be that akin to public speaking which is a common phobia ahead of death, spiders or heights. As my friend and I spoke about this, they mentioned, “Why would anyone subject themselves to such an activity that places you so far out of your comfort zone?”

This question got me thinking a little bit more on why we do venture out of our comfort zones. Why is it that we knowingly place ourselves in difficult, scary or overwhelming situations knowing the discomfort that will come from them? We are rational beings after all with the ability to exercise our free will. Is it because those who do venture out actually find something that is greater than all the perils, dangers and fears that they could possible experience? The answer, as you would probably have assented to is, yes. After all, we love hearing of daring adventurers, death defying feats and the prince overcoming the dragon to rescue the princess in the tower. The fact is that on the other side of our comfort zones, we find the answers to our questions and our purpose in life. We find new energy, joy and others who are also on a quest for personal growth and expansion. The leap outside our comfort zones and the daring attitude is what has brought innovation and the greatest of discoveries because people have seen the incredible value that comes from laying aside oneself and venturing out into the unknown.

My first experience canvassing went something like this. We learnt about canvassing one morning and then were sent out with our books and a somewhat memorised script for what we were going to say at the doors. For a person who had only recently begun getting used to public speaking, in small audiences mind, this was definitely taking it up a notch. Make that ten! I mean, the possibilities for utter and absolute embarrassment, rejection and failure were enormous! The more I thought about all the possible things that could go wrong at someone’s door the more afraid I became. How badly could I really mess up or worse, what if they rejected me? What if they slammed the door in my face while yelling at me? I think it’s funny now how scared I was back then about doing canvassing but believe me, it was not funny then. Considering the canvassing activity was a required component of my studies and that I had knowingly signed up for this experience, I knew I had to keep going back. So how could I deal with being afraid every day? The only answer for me was to pray and to start believing that I was capable of doing canvassing. I had to start believing that it was not about me and how I felt, but about truly caring for the people who would buy our books and for who we would be praying for and with. I had to get comfortable with being uncomfortable in this way, so that I could actually learn about canvassing and improve. A lot of prayer went into canvassing that first month. Every day I would decide to go canvassing but the fear was still there. Every day I had to pray for courage and strength to be able to see past my fear and focus on the task at hand.

I can honestly say that it was one of the best experiences of my life and improved my confidence, ability to speak and taught me a valuable lesson in trusting in God. The experiences that I had every day, the people I was able to meet, all worked together to bless me and my canvassing partner in some way.

Three years down the track, I continue to canvass when I get the opportunity and nowadays, I assist with coaching youth on how to do it. I am able to stand in front of them and say, “Yes, you might be thinking this is not for you, but if you will give it a real go, step out of your comfort zone, face your fears, I know, it will be worth it. I know, that this will be valuable to you.” Like I said in the beginning, not everyone is afraid of canvassing. It comes easily to some and to others, it is a way of quickly learning lessons that will be priceless in life. Being able to place ourselves in situations that we know are healthy but will require stretching is one of the most useful abilities that we should cultivate. Because the truth is, that we were created for more than what we currently think or feel. We are capable of the most amazing things if we will believe that we have the best help by our side and jump in the deep end. We both know, it’s worth it.

Phillipians 3:14 “forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”

 “One can choose to go back toward safety or forward toward growth. Growth must be chosen again and again; fear must be overcome again and again.” ―Abraham Maslow

“Growth is the great separator between those who succeed and those who do not. When I see a person beginning to separate themselves from the pack, it’s almost always due to personal growth.” ―John C. Maxwell

Autographed

Have you seen Leonardo Da Vinci’s autograph on paintings? Or Elvis Presley’s? The fact that such a famous or talented person signs something makes the object full of value and often worth a lot of money. These works of art are usually called masterpieces and placed in beautiful museums for all to enjoy.

We ourselves are also works of art! But not only are we works of art, we are signed by the greatest, artist the universe knows! The signature goes something like this… “I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts.” Jeremiah 31:33. What is God’s law? If we take a few moments to search this out we will find that God’s law is his signature, not as an arbitrary rule book that he commands us to follow but with it, he tells the universe who made us and to whom we belong. When God’s law speaks love, mercy, goodness, freedom and respect towards others, we know and understand that this is the character of God. We know that we are sons and daughters of God and therefore, we have infinite value. Knowing God’s signature and being able to recognize it allows us the freedom to trust that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14) and that God wants to be intricately woven into the daily fabric of our lives (verse 16). 

We are God’s masterpieces signed by his own hand. This is a forever reminder that the one who placed that signature on us is also able to reach in and heal, restore, rebuild and energise with love and power from the Holy Spirit. We are described as a temple that holds the most precious gifts that God has given us. “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16) As a signed masterpiece, it is no wonder that we are told that we are temples, houses for the gift that produces the best results in our lives. Results such as ‘love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control;’ Galatians 5:22. 

God’s signature on ourselves is a fact, like knowing that $100 is still $100 even if you found it in the mud. But recognizing that fact, is our choice, and allowing God’s spirit to work in us and through us is another choice that we need to make because that is one of the reasons we are wonderfully made. Let’s choose to believe that we are precious in God’s eyes, choose to believe that we were created for more than we can possibly imagine and choose to believe that God is closer to us than we know for he wants to live in us.

“You have brains in your head.

You have feet in your shoes.

You can steer yourself 

any direction you choose.

You’re on your own. And you know what you know.

And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go. …. “Oh the Places You’ll Go” Dr. Seuss

Make Them Bigger!

The beach is one of my absolute favourite places to go. I don’t even have to be in a holiday kind of mood, it’s the place where I can go and just soak up the sun, waves and the horizon. One of my favourite games was to imagine what I would see past the horizon. Of course, my logical brain would kick in and answer me straight away with nothing. But I quietly ignored that totally logical thought and instead, imagined myself floating across the water to the next closest tropical paradise. 

Lately however, I’ve been thinking about why we love to spend time in places that are so much bigger than us, so much grander and beautiful. I went to the Grand Canyon in June 2019 and I’ve never been to a place that tested my fear of heights so much! Actually, I realised I have a fear of falling, not heights. I mean, there were so many new ways to fall that had never occurred to me. Once I got over that thought, I had to sit in silence and simply take it all in. The hollow space, the colours, the lines, the sounds, all of it. I read a quote recently that said “No one goes to the Grand Canyon to increase their self-esteem!” That is so true! The grandeur of a place like the Grand Canyon is truly humbling, yet it is in this posture that something inside ourselves comes alive and we go home feeling like we have been changed forever.

We are wired to see the great, beautiful things of God and to feel wonder, joy, and passion for the awesome and inspiring. Our souls are fed knowing that there is something much better to witness. It clears our current vision and replaces it with an even bigger vision that has the power to move us and create change in any area of our lives. There’s a great bible verse that says “Without a vision the people perish…” How important it is to be able to have a big vision for where we want to go in life and what purpose drives us! Think about all the great changes that occurred in our world’s history because of people with big vision.  Here are just a few examples:

Nelson Mandela fought for civil rights and freedom in an Apartheid divided country.

Abraham Lincoln fought to end slavery for the United States

Martin Luther King Jr believed in freedom and equality for all human beings.

And Jesus Christ saved the World.

It is the big plans, big dreams and big goals that have the power to move us and others. A wise person once said,”Make no small plans, for they have no power to stir men’s souls’.  When we keep our focus on the things that inspire us, on the beautiful on the brave, we gain the courage and tap into the beautiful too and live a life of authenticity. What we focus on, is what we will draw to ourselves or what we will be drawn to. This is why it is so important to be aware of what we are focusing on! Have you ever tried hopping onto a carousel at a playground and spinning until nearly sick? That’s usually the effect that we all have if we spin too many times and yet ballerinas have complicated spins incorporated into their dance routines and they don’t miss a beat! It is because they focus on a single point as they spin and this helps them keep their balance. What a metaphor for life! When we find ourselves in a spin and it seems that everything is headed towards disaster and completely out of our control, we can choose to focus on the outcome we wanted in the first place and firmly look in that direction and slowly but surely we will come out of the spin. Again, realigning our focus on the big picture has a steadying influence on us.

We must feed our souls on the great and the grand, on the beautiful and majestic. We must create a bigger and more powerful vision than we ever have for ourselves. We need to take every opportunity to spend time in awe inspiring places or moments. So I have recently formed a theory, that even if we find ourselves at our office desk, in the middle of washing the dishes, at school maybe even underground, we can still look at the beautiful and grand in the words he speaks to us (the bible) and shoot up a prayer of gratitude and ask him to fill us with that sense of grandeur and a vision for the BIG plans he has for our lives!

Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.