Steven Furtick - How To Be Confident In Your Calling
I know your confidence has been shaken lately. That's why you need some people. Would you tell the person next to you, "I need people like you in my life". I really do. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing. I need people in my life. I really believe if I hadn't grown up at Moncks Corner United Methodist Church and Aunt Jackie didn't tell me, "God has a special plan for your life" when I first got saved, I might have gone right back to the way I was living. The temptation that is being countered by the author of Hebrews is the temptation to turn back. No sooner do you get started in the pursuit of a promise from God then you lose your confidence and turn back.
You lose your confidence because certain people don't like it. Certain people don't understand it. Certain people aren't going the same way as you. Certain people don't support or endorse your decision to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. That's why you need certain other people. You can't do this alone. I liked to say back in the early days when I first started preaching, "You have to follow Christ for yourself, but you cannot follow Christ by yourself". I need a new community, somebody to look me in the eyes from time to time and say, "I think you've still got it. I think you ought to press on". If you don't have those people in your life, there is no hope for you holding on to your confidence. Everybody in their head has a little confidence committee. They sit around that table.
You have the committee member called "Past Experience". Boy, he'll speak up real quick when you decide to do something for God. "You tried that once. How did that go"? He'll show you the treadmill you bought. It's now a coatrack. Who else sits at the table? Maybe you have the committee member of "Self-loathing" and "Doubt". One time the prophet Elisha needed to teach his protégé faith, because they were surrounded by enemies and that's all the protégé could see: what was against him. It took away his confidence. He cried out, "O my lord, what shall we do"? Sometimes that's the only prayer you can pray. Elisha gave him a different context when he prayed. "Open his eyes, Lord, that he may see".
When he blinked and opened his eyes again, nothing had really changed except his vision. When he opened his eyes a second time, he saw that what was surrounding them was surrounded by the armies of the living God. I believe God wants to bring people in your life who can surround what's surrounding you until you see the protection, the provision, and the promise of God coming to pass in your life. I'll be honest. There are certain people I look for when I preach because they boost my confidence. There are certain people I look away from real quick. We built this Ballantyne Campus where you can't sneak in. You can't fall asleep. Somebody will see you. We wanted you to know when you come to church you're surrounded. You might come to church in trouble and weak and tempted and tested and tried, but somebody shout, "I'm surrounded".
Tell seven people, "You're surrounded". Even if you want to go back, I won't let you. Even if you want to fall short, I'm not about to let you quit. You've come too far by faith. We're going to lean on him together. We're going forward. We're surrounded. We have a community. Even within our staff… It shocked me on Wednesday. I've been teaching our staff, and one of the subjects I brought up was confidence. In between sessions we were singing one of my favorite new songs that's going to be recorded for the new album. The song says, "I believe I'll see you do it again". The staff was singing it and there's a line in that song that says, "This is my confidence: you've never failed me yet. This is my confidence".
The Spirit of the Lord spoke to me and said, "Go up on stage right now and give an altar call for your staff". I said, "Lord, you mean I have staff who aren't saved"? He said, "Well, you have probably that too, but that's not the kind of altar call I mean". (I'm just kidding.) He said, "I want you to call for people who are having a crisis in confidence". When I did it I said, "I want you to come forward. If you're having a crisis in confidence, I want you to come to the stage". I thought three people would come. I turned around and all of a sudden… They didn't come to the stage. They started coming on the stage. They misunderstood my instruction. And it wasn't three of them. More people came to the stage than stayed in the seats. The next thing I know I was surrounded by these staff members. I went through everything in my head. I was like, "Did they hear what I said"? I didn't say, "If you struggle a little bit with your confidence". If you give an altar call broad enough you can get the whole room to come.
You know what I'm saying? "If you've felt defeated, come". You can just stretch it out. "If you're here today…" I didn't say, "If you wore an outfit today and you're not feeling so good about it anymore; it makes you feel kind of fat, come onto the stage and pray over your outfit". I said, "A crisis in confidence", and over half my staff came. I prayed with them for about 20 minutes. I said, "We are going to leave some chains on the stage today". Probably the best thing I did for them was turn around and give them some context. There are times where the pressure to preach becomes so great and my doubt in my own ability to lead the church becomes so strong… There have been times where I have fantasized about just walking out on Independence and hoping maybe a truck will come.
I know; I seem confident up here. Maybe I shouldn't tell you this. Some of y'all are going to pray for me or write me a prescription or something like that. I'm not saying I walk around feeling that all the time. I'm not saying I'm suicidal. I was just trying to get them to see that their lack of confidence does not have to be the death of their calling. The Devil has some of you right now. You are at that Hebrews 10 crossroads of confidence, trying to decide whether to stay and raise your children or not, trying to decide whether continuing to pursue Christian values is even possible or should you just give in to the addiction and go back the other way.
I called my staff on the stage and I even shared that about my own life, because I have seen too many callings abandoned at the crossroads of confidence. If you just would have pressed on a little more, you would have seen the breakthrough. The author said, "In just a little while, he who is coming will come and not delay". When the Devil really puts the pressure on, that's a sign that you are in proximity to the promise you've been pressing toward. We were praying on the stage and I felt my confidence coming back. It just hit me, "If that was my staff and they are paid to be Christians, what's going on in the congregation"? What's going on out there? What is the Devil telling you? If he's telling the preacher, "You know, you've probably preached your best sermons by now and they all heard everything you have to say. You know, you built that Ballantyne building too big. You're never going to fill that one up…"
If that's what he's saying to me, I can't imagine… I mean, I'm the man of God. I can't imagine what he's telling you. I can't imagine the mistakes he's bringing up. I can't imagine the dumb decisions he replays in your mind, just that five-minute clip that runs randomly every time you go to step out. I can't imagine. He says you need a clear conscience, and only the blood of Jesus can do that. You have the blood of Jesus, so be confident. When you come before God, come before him with confidence. You need a community.
Can I say something to everybody who came to church? I know you're struggling a little bit. I know you have some things, but you're around the right people right now and we're going to do this together, but it's going to take consistency. Don't give up meeting together. Encourage one another, all the more as you see the day approaching. You see his biceps? They didn't get like that one time in the gym. The first time he went to pick up the forties they were really heavy and he was grunting and stuff. Now he just picks up the eighties and the nineties because he picked up the fifties and the sixties. Confidence comes from consistency. Well, I guess you're not confident. You only let me preach to you once every three months. You only open your Bible on special occasions. I guess you're not confident. How could you be?
Confidence comes through consistency. They were interviewing Serena after she won her…what was it? Her 9,432nd Grand Slam title and tied the record. They said, "How do you deal with the pressure of this big moment and rise to the occasion as you have so many times"? I laughed at her response. It was instant classic. She said, "Well, I've played a lot of tennis". I thought that was so great. "How do you deal with the big moments"? "Well, I've played a lot of tennis". You see somebody who has a lot of confidence?
Let me tell you how they got it. They prayed a lot of prayers. You see somebody who has tremendous peace in their heart? They forgave a lot of people. You see somebody who knows how to persevere through dry seasons and hard times? They read a lot of Bible verses. So he sets confidence within the context of a clear conscience, a strong community, and a commitment to consistency. Now he says, "So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded". Don't do it. "Don't throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised".
It's interesting to me that in order to get them to press forward he tells them to look back. In verse 32 the writer says, "If you want to go forward, here's what you need to do: remember those earlier days". This fascinates me, because I've always been told that the way to gain confidence is to not look back. You can't think about the past. You can't think about what happened. You just have to leave it behind. Well, in this particular instance, the author advocates a type of memory management that will actually build your confidence.
"Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you endured in a great conflict full of suffering". He says, "You've been through much worse than this and you made it". Do you know what I know? I don't know what you've been through. I don't know what it looked like. I don't know how horrible it was. You could tell your story and I could tell my story. I know one thing about you: you made it. You're still here. I know that about you. I don't even have to know your name. I just know by the virtue of the fact that you showed up that you made it. Sometimes it's just as simple as remembering that you made it.