Thursday, January 7, 2010

Book Club Thursday- The Confident Woman Ch. 1

Today begins our Thursday Book Club on The Confident Woman by Joyce Meyer. Feel free to stop by my friend Kristi's blog to read her Book Club Thursday thoughts as well.
I absolutely loved chapter one in The Confident Woman. The title was "Confidence" and really gave a good definition and background to what true confidence is and what we as women need to learn about ourselves in order to become more confident women. I learned a lot about myself and was challenged to step out of my comfort zone in order to achieve the goals which I believe God has set for me.

First and foremost let me say that our confidence must be found in Christ because without Him we can do nothing (Philippians 4:13). Our confidence cannot and should not be found in ourselves (which is a popular train of thought these days) or others- boyfriend, spouse, children, parents, siblings, etc. God's Word says, "It is better to trust in the Lord than to put our confidence in men," Psalm 118:8. However, there are some steps that we as women can take in gaining confidence in who we are in Christ. *The actual quotes from the book are in bold print.
  • A confident person is open to learning, because she knows that her confidence allows her to walk through life's doorways, eager to discover what is on the other side. No one has reached the level of perfection in any area. We are all still learning whether it be new recipes, new methods of cleaning or organizing, a new craft or technique in a craft you are well acquainted with. Learning helps us gain confidence, but also shows that we are not afraid to show our vulnerable side and learn something new. It is usually the new and unfamiliar that tends to awaken fear inside of us (I know that is where I am), because it shows our vulnerability. We like what we are comfortable with and stepping into unfamiliar territory can be frightening. However, once we do take that step, jump, or leap into the unknown, we are surprised with how little there was to fear in the first place.

  • Confident people do not concentrate on their weaknesses; they develop and maximize their strengths. It is so easy to not only concentrate on our own weaknesses, but more so the weaknesses of others. By pointing out their shortcomings, it somehow gives us the feeling that we are better than they are and have fewer weaknesses, which is generally not the case. A confident person not only maximizes their strengths and focuses on improving those areas that they are good at, but they are also willing to point out the strengths of others without feeling intimidated. The confident person also maximizes their strengths by not only focusing on their strengths, but improving their strengths. I found that for me, rather than try to do everything under the sun, I need to focus on what I am good at, leave everything else behind, and become the best in my areas of strength, which will also help simplify my life in the process. For me, being the best woman for God, wife for my husband, and mother for my daughter needs to be my focus, and my strengths need to be fine tuned and improved to benefit them.

  • Confident people make it a habit to think and act positively. It is so easy to think about a negative word that someone said, and to just replay it over and over in your mind. By the time you are done, you are in such a bad mood, and nothing seems to go right for you for the rest of the day. Rather than rehash the careless words of others if they have been said with the intent to cut down and are not constructive in any way, we need to bring every thought captive to the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5), and make sure that the thoughts we think are following Philippians 4:8.

  • Confidence enables us to live authentically. When we are confident in who we are, there is no need to put on an act or show of what we think people want us to be and not what we really are. That is something that I see in my daughter. She does not care who is watching or what other may think. She is who she is. She has never viewed herself as intruding on some one's time (how many times do we say timidly, "Am I interrupting something?"), she never acts as if she has gotten in your way (how many times do we unconsciously duck when passing in front of someone?), she brings her toys out to share with anyone and just assume they want to play with her (how many times do we sheepishly ask if someone wants to see something and if they would rather not it is okay with us?), and she walks right up to people, looks them in the eyes, and begins talking about anything without the hint of question in her voice (how many times are we afraid to just walk up to someone and start talking to them, and if we do how many times do our words have question marks at the end?). As we teach and mold Addie Girl, I pray that she never loses the confidence that she has now or her ability to live authentically.

  • A confident person feels safe. Safe enough to jump in with both feet into the unknown to explore the possibilities that God has in store for them. Safe enough to not worry about what others may think if they know they are being led by the Lord. Safe enough to know that if their jump leads to a painful fall, they can rely on the Lord to get back up in order to jump again.

The opposite of confidence is fear. Fear is a dangerous virus, because a fearful person has no confidence and can never reach her potential in life. So many times we allow fear to hold us back from what God wants to do with us and through us. We allow fear to keep us from exploring new possibilities. We are afraid that if we step out, we may fail. There are only two people in the Bible who ever walked on water: Jesus and Peter. Peter's walk was very short, but he was the only disciple who stepped out of the boat. His walk could have been longer, but because he looked around him (maybe he had a what-am-I-doing! moment or a hey-guys-look-at-me! feeling) and saw the waves, he began to sink.

We need to step out of the boat. We need to keep our eyes on Jesus. We need to ignore the crashing waves around us that threaten to sink us. We need to remember that if Jesus calls us out of the boat, He is not going to let us sink.

Towards the end of the chapter she asks a very challenging question: Are you doing what you really believe you should be doing at this stage in your life, or have you allowed fear and a lack of confidence to prevent you from stepping out into new things- or higher levels of old things? This is a hard question to answer. Of course, we always want to say that we are where we feel we ought to be. But I have learned that I need to dream and think bigger than I do. In fact, I am going to take this question a step farther and ask, is there anything else that God wants me to be doing from where I am right now. For some of us, God has called us to be at home with our children or husbands, some of you are still in school, and some are in the workplace. But is there anything else that God could be calling you to do right there from where you are right now? For me, I think there are some things that God wants me to do right here where I am presently, now I need to jump in with both feet and ignore the crashing waves, the negative comments, and the fear of failure. I need to keep my eyes on Jesus and remember that if He calls me out of the boat (my comfort zone- where I typically love being) than He will not let me sink. And putting my trust in Him is true confidence.

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