Where does confidence come from? We can all recognize self-confident people— they seem to know who they are, what they should be doing, and believe they can get it done.
That might describe you or how you have felt at a particular season of life, but rarely can we say we have always felt clear and confident in what we are doing or in our own ability to do it.
It reminds me of these string puppet toys that stand upright and strong until you push a hidden button causing them to collapse. As you release the button, they are transformed and stand completely upright again.
Confidence helps us to stand upright and be fully committed, but once our own “button” is pressed, we may start to “faint” or crumble due to our lack of conviction. You could call this uncertainty or doubt. These buttons can be triggered by life’s circumstances which are beyond our control, or losses that throw us into a state of confusion. We may begin to question everything we previously relied on and left unchecked, those doubts can crush our confidence and hopes for the future.
With numerous blogs, articles, and testimonials of teens or young adults leaving the church for various reasons, parents have begun to doubt that they no longer hold any power or lasting influence in the faith of their adolescent and young adult children. The media has told us, and we have believed them, that friends, social media, entertainers, and pop culture have the greatest influence in our teen’s lives. Therefore, many parents have given up even trying to guide and direct their teen’s faith, or religious beliefs, out of a growing sense of futility.
Yet this longitudinal study has proven otherwise! In a Huffington Post Blog,The No. 1 Reason Teens Keep The Faith As Young Adults writer David Briggs explains encouraging and surprising results: the connection between children and teens who were raised by parents who “talked about faith at home, attached great importance to their beliefs, and were active in their congregations were themselves religiously active as young adults.”
In fact, Briggs reports that the connection, according to Dr. Smith, the lead researcher, is “nearly deterministic.”
Wow! That’s encouraging to me!
“Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it.” Prov 22:6 (KJV)
In my last blog post, I discussed the critical, yet simple elements of faith for salvation such that one as young as preschool could receive Christ as Savior. However, our work does not end there. In fact, it is just beginning! What we must seriously consider, is our role AFTER a child makes a profession of faith. That rests on us as parents, grandparents, teachers, or mentors in their life.
A dear friend of mine was expressing exasperation at her constant influx of defeating and destructive thoughts. In fact, as I speak with many women, it is shocking to hear the negative, accusatory, and hopeless thoughts that plague their minds. I must admit, I struggle with this to some degree also, but depending on one’s past, or even their present situation, the enemy often uses that as evidence that we don’t deserve better anyway.
Ashim D’Silva – Unsplash
Is it any wonder that many women, Christian women, are overwhelmed and incapacitated, like being a prisoner trapped in our own minds?
It is critical that we do something immediately to turn this around! Our future hope depends on it!
The critical action– we must take our thoughts captive.
“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:5
My dear friend knows this verse, as do I, and probably you too. But knowing what we should do and how to do it are two different things.
I want to quickly share just a few steps in HOW to take our thoughts captive and make them obedient to Christ, essentially freeing ourself from the prison of our own thoughts.
Laslett John Pott [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
We all need advice from time to time. We need people in our lives that can speak into dilemmas or challenges we must confront to give us insight, a different perspective, or direction. Proverbs talks a lot about the importance of having advisors and asserts:
“Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisors they succeed” (Prov 19:20).
In Managing Oneself, Peter F. Drucker states that some people need advisors to force themselves to think, “then they can make decisions and act on them with speed, self-confidence, and courage (pg 20). That’s me. I often need someone who knows the right questions to ask to help me order my thoughts and priorities without necessarily trying to give me “the answer.”
But how do we know who to listen to? How do we recognize someone who we can trust to give us wise counsel?
Few things get me roiled quite like a good ol’ church bashing blog post by someone claiming to be a former leader, teacher, elder, or God-forbid a pastor that has become disenchanted by their church for some reason or another. This type of blog rears its ugly head every few months with the ebb and flow of trendy blog post topics. I can almost count on it. After a few months of school rants, parenting/ discipline guilt trips, Franken-mom makeovers, 10 things I should never eat / say/ do/ think, and of course the all too common “What’s lurking in your body/ refrigerator/ medicine cabinet/ waiting to kill you,” I know it will soon be time for another church basher of a blog that goes viral, sending shock waves through the virtual blogosphere.
“You’re terrible at this. Why are you here? Why are you doing this again? Don’t you realize you are seconds away from major embarrassment? You know what people are thinking, right- you’re okay, but you’ll never be as good as ___________- you’re just not good enough. You never will be. Just give it up. Don’t walk away. RUN!”
Those are some of the comments I hear from my own worst critic – my Self. And they are horrible. They are rooted in pride, comparison, perception, and fear. We would never say any of these things to our spouse, friend, co-worker, or child, yet we get by with saying the most devastating things to our own selves. It’s like an inner bully that recognizes our weaknesses, but we feel overpowered and overwhelmed so, we just take it and take it and take it.
Recently I asked readers who they believed was their worst critic. Surprisingly, most people admitted that they are their OWN worst critic! Sure, there were a few who felt greater criticism from a spouse, boss, or mother-in-law, but a majority of people admitted that they regularly put themselves through their own mental wringer.