Confidence vs. Arrogance

Any time I write about self-image, weight lifting, exercising, our diets, publications, and anything at all happy, the following thoughts ricochet about in my brain after hitting “publish” on my blog:

  • People are going to think I’m arrogant and self-centered with all this, “Look how joyful and healthy I am” stuff.
  • Am I arrogant and self-centered?
  • I better write a sarcastic and funny post about all of my faults and how much I suck.

So, immediately after I wrote about how good weight lifting was making me feel and the degree of self-confidence that gave me the power and strength to stretch into yoga poses I’d never been able to hold before, I wondered if what I said was arrogant.  Am I a braggart?

And then this verse came to mind, one of my favorite Bible verses,

“Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6).

There is a huge difference between arrogance and confidence, and an equally huge difference between humility and self-deprecation. 

While confidence and humility can walk hand-in-hand, joyfully celebrating the good work that you are while realizing you aren’t perfect and that’s okay, in fact that’s just right because you are still in-progress, and this growing and refining and shaping is beauty and art and the stuff of life,

arrogance and self-deprecation propel away from each other.  Arrogance and self-deprecation propel you away from others.  Arrogance and self-deprecation speak opposite lies in the same direction: one says I’m so much better than you. The other says I’m so much worse than you
Confidence and humility tend to operate from a position of neutrality: I am someone who matters.  You are someone who matters.  I will treat you as if you matter.  You will treat me as if I matter.  Because we matter. 
Ironically, both arrogance and self-deprecation turn the spotlight on ourselves.  Look at me, I’m awesome, so much more awesome than you! or Look at me, I suck!
Confidence is knowing that you are a good work.  Arrogance is thinking you are the hottest piece of work to walk the planet and thus you need no more work at all.

People always say, “Ivan the Terrible. Oh, he’s so terrible, oh, I’m so scared of Ivan, he’s bad news.” When in fact, the correct translation is, “Ivan the Awesome.” – Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smythsonian

Humility is willing to wash the feet of a stranger.  Self-deprecation lies down on the floor and begs to be stepped on, and when you tell it no, you don’t deserve to be stepped on, you’re great!, it says, no, no, no, really, I am a doormat.  Step on me.  Self-deprecation downgrades its worth so that others will take pity and deliver praise for how awesome you really are.
Unlike arrogance and self-deprecation, confidence and humility don’t carry around a yard stick to see how they measure up with others.
No more measuring.  Who are you?  Who were you created to be?  Are you walking in that direction?  Keep walking. 
Don’t think of yourself more highly than you ought, and don’t think of yourself more lowly than you ought. 
Consider yourself and be confident.  Consider others and be humble.

Published by Sarah M. Wells

Sarah M. Wells is the author of The Family Bible Devotional: Stories from the Gospels to Help Kids and Parents Love God and Love Others (2022), American Honey: A Field Guide to Resisting Temptation (2021), Between the Heron and the Moss (2020), The Family Bible Devotional: Stories from the Bible to Help Kids and Parents Engage and Love Scripture (2018), Pruning Burning Bushes (2012), and a chapbook of poems, Acquiesce, winner of the 2008 Starting Gate Award through Finishing Line Press (2009). Sarah's work has been honored with four Pushcart Prize nominations, and her essays have appeared in the notable essays list in the Best American Essays 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2017, and 2018. Sarah is the recipient of a 2018 Individual Excellence Award from the Ohio Arts Council. She resides in Ashland, Ohio with her husband and three children.

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