According to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through faith in Him. Therefore I ask that you do not lose heart at my tribulation for you, which is your glory. (Ephesians 3:11–13—NKJV)

Building confidence is the work of gentle persuasion working toward a settled conclusion. For just about everyone, the lack of confidence will evidence itself in some surprising places. Those who are unusually confident people will sometimes show a strange level of timidity in some area that is child’s play for most. A brave soldier may have faced bullets but has an inordinate fear of holding a baby. A ball player may have been spectacular in games in front of thousands of people but is a blubbering fool when speaking in front of a small audience. A counselor who is able to share incredible insights for others may be at a total loss to divine answers for his own problems and remains in a frozen state of limbo. It is surprising how competent confidence in some things does not translate over into all areas of life, especially ones that matter.

While many people are self-confident for absolutely no reason (sooner or later they will fail spectacularly); there are few people who have great self-confidence because they are just plain good at some particular thing. The confidence that matters for all is confidence that has been tested and found to be authentically based on reality.

I believe that real confidence in things that matter is a product of persuasion. When God called me into pastoral ministry, I had not yet lived into double digits. I had a great deal of confidence that I was called, but there was not a lot of evidence to back up the call. For me, confidence was achieved by God sending people into my life who heard me preach, knew my life, heard my heart, and then they declared to me their confidence that God had indeed called me and they were committed to praying for my life and ministry. There was persuasion at work both for them and for me. That meant the world to me.

Scripturally, confidence that is worth its salt is confidence firmly built by thoughtful persuasion. This kind of confidence is defined as firm belief, trust, reliance, assurance; being or feeling certain. Biblical confidence must be confidence that arises from outside oneself, and this is the reason for its connection to persuasion. The origin of the word is Latin, suadere, to urge. It means to cause someone to do something, especially by reasoning, urging, or inducement; to prevail upon, to convince. It is essentially influencing a person to an action and belief by an overt appeal to his reason and emotions. Effective persuasion leads to strong belief and conviction. Persuaded people have been made persuasible by their confidence in the veracity of the case. They will then be unafraid of being known as people of a certain “persuasion.”

Confidence in God is woven throughout the Bible. Who can forget the words of Psalm 23:4, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me”? Psalm 27:1–3 states, “The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? Though an army may encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war may rise against me, in this I will be confident.” Both of these statements of confidence are built upon powerful persuasion from the Living God (Psalm 3:6–7, 20:7).

Your soul’s salvation is inextricably tied to divine persuasion. Acts 17:3–4 states, “The Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and saying, ‘This Jesus whom I preach to you is the Christ.’ and some of them were persuaded.” Even Agrippa, when he heard Paul’s proclamation of the Gospel recognized that the call to salvation is a persuasion (Acts 26:26). 2 Timothy 1:9–12 declares, “Who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began…I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day.” The same persuaded confidence rings clear in Paul’s words from Romans 8:38: “I am persuaded that neither death nor life…nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Finally, Philippians 1:6 reads, “Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.”

There is no reliably firm footing found in the bravado of self-confidence divorced from exclusive confidence in God’s providential, sovereign love. Such an abiding confidence must be a persuaded confidence to which we are brought by the indefatigable grace of God. All other confidences are doomed to everlasting ruin. Upon what is your confidence built, both temporal and eternal? Trust and obey.