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What’s the Difference Between Confidence and Arrogance?

There is a thin line between confidence and arrogance. In my own life, I have walked that line like a tight rope, and I have fallen more times than I’d like to admit.

Recently at Shattered Media, we have been celebrating all of the amazing success that God has brought our way. Every step in building AUTHENTIK.city and growing AUTHENTIK magazine has been about trusting God’s provision. Equipping people to share their stories is about fulfilling the desire God put on our hearts at Shattered. We have begun to realize that if we are going to take this vision to the next level, it will require even more boldness and confidence.

The danger is that our confidence could turn into arrogance — thinking that somehow we have done something to secure our success. For this reason, sometimes our team is afraid to walk confidently for fear of being perceived as arrogant. But when God calls us to something, He doesn’t call us to do it with shyness and timidity. Instead, He calls us — all of His children — to a life of fearless trust in Him.

So how do we avoid seeing our confidence slip into arrogance? The answer is one simple word.

Fear.

Arrogance is born out of fear. That seems counterintuitive because the arrogant often seem to fear nothing. But truthfully, arrogance arises because of two major fears. And both of them are self-centered and destructive.

The first fear that can bring about arrogance is fear of others. When we are afraid of what others might think of us, we tend to isolate ourselves. We stop asking questions for fear of looking stupid, or we stop engaging in dialogue for fear of being hurt. Our hearts and thoughts suddenly turn inward, and we believe we have it right and everyone else has it wrong. We appear standoffish and isolated, unwilling to admit our shortcomings.

On the other hand, confidence has no fear of what others might think. Confident people have an accurate view of themselves, are able to perceive their own strengths and weaknesses. When there is something they don’t know, it is easy for them to ask for help. When someone has an opposing view, a confident person engages in conversation to try and understand where the opponent is coming from. Confidence doesn’t need the approval of others. Confident people are free to be who they are without shame or guilt.

The second fear that distinguishes arrogance from confidence is fear of failure. Being driven is not a bad thing. It is a question of what drives us. If we are driven by a fear of not making it, we have already lost.

Often a person becomes arrogant out of a great fear of losing or failing. Success becomes the goal at all costs. In order to accomplish the goal of winning, the arrogant person hurts people, compromises beliefs, and tosses values aside. If success ever does come, arrogant people have a hard time recognizing it because fear of failure is still breathing down their necks. So they keep chasing an unattainable goal of never failing.

Confidence has no fear of failure. In fact, a confident person keeps an entirely different scorecard. Success for the confident person is about remaining true to what he’s been called to do. If they have done their best and kept their integrity intact, confident people can be pleased with their work. Instead of being driven by a fear of failure, failures are seen as an opportunity to grow and learn. If successes come, the confident person finds it easy to be grateful and rejoice.

Ultimately, a truly confident person has placed all confidence in God. When we understand rightly who God is, we are free from fear. What others may perceive as fearless, bold or a little crazy, we actually know to be a fully reliant trust in God’s power.

At Shattered Media, our prayer is that our confidence will always be in God’s vision and that we would never slip into arrogance.

[Image via Unsplash/Danka Peter]

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