For as long as I can remember, I’ve had confidence in myself. I’ve even been accused of being arrogant and conceited. I took this confidence with me when four years after graduating high school, I decided to go to college and pursue a Associate of Science degree in Drafting as well as in Civil Engineering Technology. I knew the classes wouldn’t be too difficult. I always did like school, and for the most part, did well. I remember being frustrated at times when I couldn’t seem to understand a particular assignment, but in the end, I learned what I was supposed to. I earned both degrees in three years, graduating with a cumulative GPA of 3.9.
With degrees in hand, I quickly got a job working under both land surveyors and civil engineers, first in Colorado and now in North Dakota. I even went so far as to become a Registered Land Surveyor in North Dakota. Confidence in my ability to do my job well never wavered. Did I make mistakes? Absolutely. I still do. I’m only human after all, and my self-expectations aren’t so high that I’m not too surprised when I mess up now and then. Besides, I see making mistakes as an opportunity to learn and improve my craft.
All in all, I love what I do and believe I’m good at it. My bosses and clients seem to think so, anyway.
So why does that confidence not spill over into this new pursuit of writing, specifically writing for God? Why is my attitude so completely out of phase from the rest of my life? I at first believed when I rededicated my life to Jesus that writing is a gift He wanted me to use for His glory. I figured since I always seemed to write well, the least I could do was give that gift back to God.
In starting out, I did have confidence. Sure, I had moments of frustration when my writing didn’t seem to be as good as it could have been. I made mistakes, and I expected that, but I determined to learn from them. Improvement only comes with practice. Lots of it.
But sometimes things don’t turn out as we hope or wish for.
Not much time passed when, instead of taking criticism as it was meant - to improve - I took it personally, ignoring all the positive feedback I received along with it. A single instance of “You should do this differently” or “I don’t like how you worded that,” I pounce on and won’t let go. I let it swim around in my mind, complementing it with thoughts like, “You’re wasting your time.”, “You call that talent?”and “What do you know that can help others? You don’t know anything.” And those are the tame ones.
In contrast, I’m told my story is excellent, and I shrug it off saying a curt, “Thanks” or “I’m glad you liked it,” not believing a word of what they just said. I think, “They only said that so as not to hurt my feelings.”
It makes a person want to quit if for no other reason than to get all those relentless negative thoughts to cease.
As I seriously considered doing just that, I stumbled across James 1:5-8: “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.” NIV
The part about the wave upon the sea described me perfectly. I felt lost and tossed about with no direction. I could see nothing around me that I could hold on to or move towards. I doubted God’s desire and willingness to help me with my struggles. I made the singular mistake of depending upon my own knowledge and strength instead of depending on God. Doubting myself to the point of giving up was only a matter of time.
So how do I silence my doubts and those incessant negative thoughts poking at the back of my head?
I have to remember that God doesn’t want me to feel doubt and discouragement any more than I do. That being the case, it’s reasonable to assume He has a solution to my listlessness. In verse 5, James tells us that God gives generously the wisdom we so desperately need. All we have to do is ask for it. But verse 6 adds the caveat that we must believe God will come through. James then goes on to warn that the price of having doubts will be receiving nothing from God. In other words, while we doubt, we don’t try to do His will, thereby becoming useless to Him. After all, why should He give us anything if we refuse to believe we’ll receive it?
Having been convicted of my error, I realized how weak and foolish I have been in allowing my doubts to overtake me. But after much prayer and finally allowing God to work within me, I found the wisdom I needed to squelch my doubts. Will I always succeed? No. Will I make mistakes, even fail at times? Of course. But with God’s strength and wisdom, I will learn and grow, becoming ever confident in my ability to ultimately succeed in whatever endeavor He chooses to place before me. I can do none of this without Him.
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Yep.....it's his gift, his calling, his anointing. A Scripture comes to mind, here,
that goes something like, "Having no confidence in the flesh." Your article is a reminder to all writers to check our priorities and motives.