The most read post over the past year on the Compete4Christ blog is “Confidence Isn’t Arrogance.” Why? I think it’s because everyone knows deep inside that they must be confident in order to perform at their best in the pressure packed situations of competition. Everyone knows that if you don’t think you are ready to perform well you probably won’t. At the same time, however, Christian competitors know confidence can often turn into sinful arrogance.
Understanding the difference between confidence and arrogance is a critical component to being a Christian coach or athlete. The apostle Paul summed up the difference well in 2 sentences.
But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. 1 Corinthians 15:10
Look at the way Paul views himself. He sees himself as someone who is who he is because of God’s grace. He acknowledges his own hard work, but accepts the fact that if it weren’t for God’s grace he wouldn’t be able to work hard.
The Christian coach or Christian athlete must recognize that his or her talents and opportunities to express those talents are the result of God’s grace. God is the One who crafted you, who decided you would exist in this time and in this place, who surrounded you with people who have taught you your sport, and so on and so on.
Paul was confident in his own hard work, but he recognized that God could have easily prevented him from working hard. Paul gives credit where credit is due: to God. Simultaneously, however, Paul is confident in what he has done to prepare and who God has made him.
Therefore, the key difference between confidence and arrogance is understanding the source of the talent, opportunity and preparation. There was no doubt in Paul’s mind that the source of his talent, opportunity, and preparation was God. As a result, he was confident not arrogant. The arrogant see themselves as the source of their talent, opportunity, and preparation. The Bible has an important warning for those who are arrogant and prideful.
But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” James 4:6
I believe that Christian competitors ought to be the most confident competitors in every competition. Why? Because we know we are who we are by the grace of God. We know that our entire existence is for God’s glory. Knowing this motivates us to maximize every practice or workout. It drives us to intentionally pursue our God-given potential and to become more like Christ in the process.
We serve a God who loves us and sacrificed His only Son as the payment for our sins. We serve a God who is telling the story of His glory in and through us by the power of His Holy Spirit. In light of all this no one should outwork the Christian competitor and no one should be more confident. We are the result of God’s work in our lives which makes us perfectly suited for the moment we are about to encounter.
Competitors who are confident in Christ know that their life tells the story of God’s glory and they strive to point everyone towards God in and through all that they do.