• Mark Alan Williams

Are You Cocky Or Confident?

Updated: Mar 29, 2019

How to See Your Abilities from God's Perspective

Podcast (listen-to-this-article-here): Play in new window | Download (Duration: 8:36 — 15.7MB)

Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | Android | RSS


While in seminary I confess to having an overinflated evaluation of my abilities. Between college and seminary, I had traveled for a year with Josh McDowell. Josh had spoken to more college students than anyone else, was a best-selling author and was a bit of a celebrity. Just to be connected with him seemed very special.

So at Talbot Seminary, a guy writing for the student newspaper asked to interview me about my time interning with Josh. That was nice, but what happened in the interview wasn’t.


It seemed that whatever I said told the interviewer that I had an over-inflated ego. Apparently I sounded like I thought I was going to be the next Josh McDowell or Billy Graham.


I forget his exact words, but at the end of the interview he said something to the effect that I had a problem with thinking too highly of myself. It was even worse than that. In essence he said I was being a jerk.


Was he right? Probably so.


Since then I’ve pondered the difference between being confident and being cocky. Certainly confidence is important, especially when we are confident in the Lord.


But when does confidence become cockiness?

A verse that has helped with this is Romans 12:3b which says “I give each of you this warning: Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us.” (NLT)


This verse is a great guide for avoiding being under or over confident by looking at our abilities in 3 ways:


01. A warning against over-inflating our self-evaluation.

The verse says clearly “Don’t think you are better than you really are.”


That’s where I was at the time of that interview. It’s embarrassing, but I think it is true. I seemed to feel that just being connected with someone great made me great. Not true.


The Bible has many warnings about pride. I’ve written about what the Bible says about pride in an article you can read HERE.


It also has a lot of teaching about humility. I’ve written about what the Bible says about humility in an article you can read HERE.


02. A warning against under-inflating our self-evaluation.


The verse continues “Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves.”


Other versions say “think soberly” (KJV) or think with “sound judgment” (NAS).


The idea is that we must be realistic about our abilities.

There’s a lot to be said for having confidence that we can achieve great dreams. Of course, many have written about this in books such as The Magic of Thinking Big and The Power of Positive Thinking. 


I wrote about the importance of confidence from a Biblical perspective in articles you can read HERE and HERE.


03. An encouragement to evaluate our abilities on a spiritual level.

The verse ends with the challenge to be “measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us.”

What does that mean? It confused me for a while. But I’ve come to believe that it means we must evaluate our spiritual abilities in tandem with our natural abilities:


  • I might be naturally gifted at something. But beyond my abilities, what confidence do I have that I am pleasing God and therefore that He is with me in my endeavor?

  • I might think I have developed skills that enable me to do things, but am I trusting God to work BEYOND my abilities?

  • I might believe that I have weaknesses, but what faith do I have that God can overcome them to achieve great visions?

  • I might believe that I can do something utilizing my abilities, but what faith do I have that with Him, I can do so much more?

I think you get the idea.


In summary, here is how God wants us to evaluate our abilities:

  • Not too highly.

  • Not too lowly.

  • Not in isolation of God’s working through us.

Stated positively, here is how God wants us to evaluate our abilities:

  • With humility.

  • With confidence.

  • With faith.

What a wonderfully balanced perspective.


One of my favorite books as a child was “The Little Engine That Could.” Perhaps you recall that the key line was “I think I can, I think I can, I think I can.”


Utilizing that mantra helped the little engine climb to the top of the mountain.


It’s a great lesson, especially if we make one adjustment. God wants us to take the idea a step higher and intersperse “I think I can” with the words “Through Christ I can!”


“I think I can, through Christ I can.”

“I think I can, through Christ I can.”

“I think I can, through Christ I can.”


Now that’s a powerful combination!


I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13 NKJV)


For more help, here are other articles I’ve written on related topics:



All Rights Reserved © 2019 Mark Alan Williams