Cussin’ women are confident women. That was the gist of an article by a millennial and Gen Z-focused online publisher that I recently came across. The news piece encouraged women to sprinkle some curse words into their vocabularies, because allegedly, not only does swearing make women more confident, but it also makes them a whole lot more attractive, too. The accompanying photo featured a beautiful young professional woman boldly giving readers the finger. I’ll refrain from providing a link.
What comes to mind when you hear the phrase confident woman? What qualities does such a woman possess? Popular media inform us that a confident woman loves herself and believes in herself. She is bold, independent, and competent. She stands tall, dresses for success, and struts her stuff. A confident woman knows what she wants, does what she wants, and doesn’t care what others think. She voices her opinions, speaks her mind, and acts like a boss. And, if we are to believe the advice of the aforementioned article, she does so with a generous helping of sass and cuss.
Photo Credit: © Getty Images/Siri Stafford
Culture has raised us to be strong, confident women. But numerous academic studies reveal that we are not living up to what we have been groomed to be. One such study found that insecurity causes nearly all women (85 percent) to opt out of important life activities, such as joining a club or class, voicing an opinion, or engaging with others.
Today’s woman has a confidence problem. All her life she has been raised to be a strong, confident woman. Yet deep inside, she harbors an embarrassing secret. She lacks a firm faith in her own abilities. She feels weak. She’s not nearly as strong and confident as she acts. Her confidence is fleeting. Often, it’s phony; a well-crafted performance intended to suppress underlying currents of self-doubt.
What can we do about this lack of confidence? How do we transform our “can’t-do” into a “can-do”? How do we turn our cowardice into bravery? How can we silence the nagging fears that sabotage and cripple us?
Popular authors say the answer is to believe in ourselves more and work to develop more self-confidence. We can become more confident by simply acting more confident and by countering every negative thought with a positive one. Greater self-assurance will defeat the fear that stands in the way of our success.
But haven’t we already tried the self-affirmation solution? Will more rah-rah girl power genuinely quiet the insecurity and self-doubt gnawing at our souls? Could it be that there is something missing in this well-worn confidence formula?
A Different Solution
The Bible provides a different solution. A counterintuitive solution. It teaches that to gain strong confidence, we need to rely on God more and on ourselves less. “The person who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence indeed is the Lord, is blessed” (Jer. 17:7). It says that every other source of confidence is fragile—like leaning on a spider’s web (Job 8:14).
If you want to have the kind of confidence that will hold you up and not let you down, you need to pursue the right kind of confidence. Here are five ways you can embrace the Bible’s confidence code to become the bold, courageous woman that God created you to be.
1. Resolve to make God your confidence.
The Bible contrasts the security of the type of confidence that comes from reliance on God with the folly of any other kind of security. The woman who puts her confidence in the Lord will be blessed and secure, whereas the woman who puts her confidence in other things is headed for a whole heap of hurt, disappointment, and trouble.
I think you’ll agree that we often naively put confidence in the wrong thing—whether it’s our capability, education, job, finances, beauty, health, relationships, independence, freedom, political or economic stability, or any number of other things. Most of us have discovered that the things in which we place our confidence can fail and prove untrustworthy. The resulting pain, disappointment, and fear can be profound. (COVID-19 anyone?)
The first and most important way we can build strong confidence is to resolve to place our confidence in God and not in lesser powers.
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/Pixelheadphoto
2. Don’t fall for the Con Artist’s schemes.
It’s important for you to remember that your battle for confidence isn’t merely about your apprehension of being judged or disliked. Your confidence battle takes place on a much larger, cosmic stage. It is a subset of the battle between truth and error, right and wrong, good and evil.
There are two powerful forces vying for your trust—God and Satan. God wants your trust. He deserves your trust. He is worthy of your trust. But God’s archenemy, Satan, wants to trick you into trusting everything and anything but God.
Satan is the master con artist. Let me remind you that the con in con artist is short for confidence. A con artist convinces you to put your confidence in him and in his amazing promises. He plays con games—confidence games—to win your confidence. That’s exactly what he did with our foremother, Eve.
Before Eve sinned, she possessed strong, smart confidence. Trusting God was her natural bent. But when she fell for Satan’s con game, her bent changed. She began to place more confidence in Satan’s twisted version of reality than in what God said. She turned her back on strong, smart confidence and embraced fragile, foolish confidence instead. And humans have continued to do so ever since.
Satan cons us into fearing things we shouldn’t fear. Then, in the same way, the pop-up tech-support scammers offer a solution for a problem they themselves created; he sells us his bogus snake oil remedies. He not only peddles fear but also peddles fragile, foolish confidence as a supposed cure.
As was the case with Eve, Satan is especially interested in encouraging our self-reliance and self-determination. When we buy into his scheme, we place more confidence in our competence and know-how—or in our own appearances, likability, money, possessions, friends, or abilities—than we place in the One who gives us these things.
The second way we can grow in strong confidence is to equip our minds with truth, so when the great Con Man tries to get us to shift the source of our confidence from God to other things, we can spot the scam.
3. Learn to fight fear with fear.
There’s a close connection between fear and confidence. Generally speaking, increased fear results in decreased confidence; increased confidence results in decreased fear. That’s why most “how to build confidence” articles tell us that the key to building confidence is to conquer fear.
The Bible’s instruction on how to grow more confident doesn’t exactly follow this popular formula. It positions the fear of the Lord against other fears. Just as there is a wrong and a right kind of confidence, there is a wrong and a right kind of fear. And Scripture indicates that the way to combat the former is with the latter. The way to fight fear is with fear of a different kind. “In the fear of the Lord one has strong confidence” (Prov.14:26).
The Bible is clear that people who put their faith in God through Jesus Christ have a markedly different relationship to fear than people who don’t. As believers, our lives are directed by holy fear. We fear God; therefore, we’re not afraid of other things. We don’t fear people. We don’t fear sickness or death. We don’t fear failure, embarrassment, or loss. We don’t fear the things that other people fear. (At least, with God’s help, we’re learning not to.)
The Lord warned Isaiah not to fear the things that others feared but to keep his fear in the right place: Let the Lord be your fear. Let him be your dread. (Isa. 8:11-13). God’s point was that Isaiah needed to fight fear with fear. Fearing God more would help him fear other things less. Fearing God would increase his confidence.
You see, the Lord wants to put fear and confidence back in their proper place—the place they occupied before sin messed everything up. God wants to crush the negative, apprehensive, lie-based fear that is such a powerful tool of the Enemy and reinstate the positive, reverent, truth-based fear that originally existed in the human heart.
The third way to build strong confidence is to cultivate a holy, reverent fear of the Lord—the kind of fear that renders you gob-smacked and awestruck by the One who is greater, bigger, and more powerful than anything that threatens to do you harm.
4. Consult your confidence coach.
Do you know that God has provided you with a personal Confidence Coach? His name is “the Spirit of the Fear of the Lord.” which is another name for God’s Holy Spirit. During Jesus’ earthly tenure, the Spirit of the fear of the Lord rested on Jesus and infused him with strength and courage (Heb. 5:7).
The Spirit of the fear of the Lord frees you from bondage to other fears (Rom. 8:15). Reverent fear calms apprehensive fear. The right kind of fear frees you from the wrong kind of fear.
Fearing God isn’t some pie-in-the-sky, boring, irrelevant theory. It offers you real, down-to-earth, practical hope and help in your battle against worry, doubt, and insecurity. The fantastic news is that God has already given you everything you need for victory. If you believe in Jesus, the Spirit of the fear of the Lord already lives within you. That means you have a live-in confidence coach. Whenever fears and insecurities crop up in your heart, you can turn to your coach for help. He will comfort you, guide you, teach you, and infuse you with the right kind of confidence.
Photo Credit: © Pexels/Andrea Piacquadio
5. View fear as an opportunity.
You may view fear as a threat but fear actually presents you with an incredible opportunity. Fear is an opportunity to trust the Lord. David said, “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you” (Ps. 56:3). Did you notice that David said when I am afraid and not if I am afraid? David anticipated that he would feel afraid. Fear is to be expected. Life is scary. There are times when you will feel afraid. When fear comes knocking on your door, Satan wants you to trust his solutions. But God invites you to draw near in awe, obedience, devotion, worship, and trust.
Fear is an opportunity to rest, gaze, and be awed. When we feel anxious, we want to do something to resolve the situation. God wants us to stop feverishly trying to come up with our own solution. He invites us to stop striving. To rest. And to patiently wait on him. Waiting on God puts everything in perspective. When we wait on God, lesser fears kneel to the Great Fear and lesser confidences kneel to the Great Confidence. Waiting on God helps us to see him and the world aright.
As we wait, something incredible happens.
His strength infuses us with supernatural strength and confidence.
Scripture promises that “they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint” (Isa. 40:31). It indicates that “the fear of the Lord leads to life,” and those who embrace this great fear rest content, untouched by trouble (Prov. 19:23).
Your fears, anxieties, and worries are an invitation to rest, gaze, and be awed by the God to whom belongs all glory, majesty, power, and authority before all time, now and forever. And to draw strong confidence from him.
Does God want you to be a strong, confident woman? Yes. Absolutely. For sure he does! But not the kind of confident that masks insecurity with a brash, sassy, cussing veneer. When you embrace the fear of the Lord, you will become the bold, courageous woman God created you to be . . . a woman who is the right kind of confident!
Adapted and excerpted with permission from The Right Kind of Confident: the remarkable grit of a God-fearing woman by Mary A. Kassian. Copyright Mary A. Kassian.
Maya Allen, “This Dove Report Reveals Shocking Results About Women's Body Confidence,” Cosmopolitan, June 23, 2016, https://www.cosmopolitan.com/style-beauty/beauty/news/a60373/womens-body-confidence-declining/.