4 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t “Believe In Yourself”
By Shane Pruitt
“You just need to believe in yourself!” How many times have we been told this statement as a pep talk? Culture tells us this is a great attribute to possess – the ability to take matters into your own hands; to be the determiner of your own destiny, and the captain of your own ship. You can do anything that you set your mind to. Believe and achieve! And pull yourself up by your own bootstraps. There are whole sections of the bookstore devoted to helping you think like this, to have self-confidence above all else, and to rely on yourself and yourself alone.
This kind of advice resonates with our human nature, because at the end of the day, we all love taking matters into our own hand because we all suffer from a disease, known as “control-freakism.” The natural symptoms of this disease are: not trusting anyone more than I trust myself, believing no one knows how to make me happier than I know how to make myself happy, and believing that I can manipulate almost any situation to turn out the way I want it to.
Sadly, deep down in the true essence of who I am, in my soul and spirit, I know it’s a lie. No one has misled me more that I’ve misled myself. No one has lied to me more than I’ve lied to myself. No one has hurt, distracted, or hindered me more than I have. In fact, the more that I “believe in myself,” the deeper the ditch that I find myself in.
Here are four sobering reasons from the Bible that tells me why I shouldn’t “just believe in myself:”
- It’s why Lucifer was cast down from Heaven.
Lucifer was a beautiful, wise, and powerful angel who was created for a special purpose of worshiping God. However, pride crept into his thoughts. Apparently, he became so enamored with his own beauty, wisdom, and power that he began to desire for himself the honor and glory that belonged to God alone. You might we even say that he had begun to “believe in himself.” “You said in your heart, I will ascend to heaven; above the stars of God. I will set my throne on high; I will sit on the mount of assembly in the far reaches of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.’ But you are brought down to Sheol, to the far reaches of the pit” (Isaiah 14:13 – 15).
- It was the underlying temptation in the fall of mankind.
The serpent (Lucifer) tempts Adam and Eve with the very same thing that got him booted out of heaven, telling them in essence, “You can and will be like God. There is no reason to trust God any longer, because you can be like God, yourself.” This was the great temptation in the Garden of Eden. It was more than taking a bite of fruit. It was mankind wanting to be God, listening to the serpent over their Creator, and “believing in themselves” more than trusting God’s direction. “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil (Genesis 3:5).”
- It was the subject of God’s condemnation to the Israelites throughout the Old Testament.
One of the strongest accusations that God continually had towards the Israelites was that they kept doing “whatever was right in their own eyes” instead of trusting in Him. The people didn’t need God, because they believed in the same statement we believe in today – “To each his own.” Everyone just did whatever they felt was right, they were “believing in themselves”, and felt that they had no need for believing in God for direction. “In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 17:6).
- It was what Jesus taught against.
The fundamental statement that Jesus gave us about following Him was not for us to “believe in ourselves’, but rather, the exact opposite – “deny yourself.” This denial is more than letting go of some dream or desire. The call is to deny our whole self – all of our natural motives and impulses that conflict with the claims of Christ. In fact, He goes even further to say that we must, “take up our cross,” which is an instrument of death. So, are we supposed to “believe in ourselves?” No, actually we’re supposed to die to ourselves! “Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Matthew 16:24).
In reality, part of the great news of the Gospel is that one of my most dangerous enemies would be put to death, which is me! Jesus died so that the old me would die, He was buried so that the old me would be buried, and He now lives so that a new me can live. “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).
Faith in its purest form is trusting and “believing in God” rather than myself or any other circumstance. When I attempt to “believe in myself” by controlling things, it causes me to suffer from stress, worry, and anxiety. I am trying to do a job that is way above my pay grade, because it is a God-sized job. My only job is to trust that God can do His job, and, know that He is very, very good at it!
I don’t “believe in myself,” but rather, I believe in Christ who rescued me from sin, death, and from myself.