Each time I think about how to overcome self-doubt, I can’t help but picture the young David standing strong against the giant Goliath. If anyone had a reason to entertain self-doubt it was David.
I can tell you that I have never had that kind of confidence. What I would like to explore, however, is where that confidence came from. Let’s begin our journey with one of the most well known Bible stories of all time.
How to Overcome Self-Doubt with Faith
I know it’s long, but let’s read the entire story of David and Goliath. It is found in 1 Samuel 17 NKJV
The Philistines stood on a mountain on one side, and Israel stood on a mountain on the other side, with a valley between them.
4 And a champion went out from the camp of the Philistines, named Goliath, from Gath, whose height was six cubits and a span. 5 He had a bronze helmet on his head, and he was armed with a coat of mail, and the weight of the coat was five thousand shekels of bronze. 6 And he hadbronze armor on his legs and a bronze javelin between his shoulders. 7 Now the staff of his spear was like a weaver’s beam, and his iron spearhead weighed six hundred shekels; and a shield-bearer went before him.
8 Then he stood and cried out to the armies of Israel, and said to them, “Why have you come out to line up for battle? Am I not a Philistine, and you the servants of Saul? Choose a man for yourselves, and let him come down to me. 9 If he is able to fight with me and kill me, then we will be your servants. But if I prevail against him and kill him, then you shall be our servants and serve us.” 10 And the Philistine said, “I defy the armies of Israel this day; give me a man, that we may fight together.”
11 When Saul and all Israel heard these words of the Philistine, they were dismayed and greatly afraid.
12 Now David was the son of that Ephrathite of Bethlehem Judah, whose name was Jesse, and who had eight sons. And the man was old, advanced in years, in the days of Saul. 13 The three oldest sons of Jesse had gone to follow Saul to the battle. The names of his three sons who went to the battle were Eliab the firstborn, next to him Abinadab, and the third Shammah. 14 David was the youngest. And the three oldest followed Saul. 15 But David occasionally went and returned from Saul to feed his father’s sheep at Bethlehem.
16 And the Philistine drew near and presented himself forty days, morning and evening.
17 Then Jesse said to his son David, “Take now for your brothers an ephah of this dried grain and these ten loaves, and run to your brothers at the camp.
20 So David rose early in the morning, left the sheep with a keeper, and took the things and went as Jesse had commanded him. And he came to the camp as the army was going out to the fight and shouting for the battle. 21 For Israel and the Philistines had drawn up in battle array, army against army. 22 And David left his supplies in the hand of the supply keeper, ran to the army, and came and greeted his brothers.
23 Then as he talked with them, there was the champion, the Philistine of Gath, Goliath by name, coming up from the armies of the Philistines; and he spoke according to the same words. So David heard them. 24 And all the men of Israel, when they saw the man, fled from him and were dreadfully afraid. 25 So the men of Israel said, “Have you seen this man who has come up? Surely he has come up to defy Israel; and it shall be that the man who kills him the king will enrich with great riches, will give him his daughter, and give his father’s house exemption from taxes in Israel.”
26 Then David spoke to the men who stood by him, saying, “What shall be done for the man who kills this Philistine and takes away the reproach from Israel? For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?”
27 And the people answered him in this manner, saying, “So shall it be done for the man who kills him.”
28 Now Eliab his oldest brother heard when he spoke to the men; and Eliab’s anger was aroused against David, and he said, “Why did you come down here? And with whom have you left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know your pride and the insolence of your heart, for you have come down to see the battle.”
29 And David said, “What have I done now? Is there not a cause?” 30 Then he turned from him toward another and said the same thing; and these people answered him as the first ones did.
31 Now when the words which David spoke were heard, they reported them to Saul; and he sent for him. 32 Then David said to Saul, “Let no man’s heart fail because of him; your servant will go and fight with this Philistine.”
33 And Saul said to David, “You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him; for you are a youth, and he a man of war from his youth.”
34 But David said to Saul, “Your servant used to keep his father’s sheep, and when a lion or a bear came and took a lamb out of the flock, 35 I went out after it and struck it, and delivered the lamb from its mouth; and when it arose against me, I caught it by its beard, and struck and killed it. 36 Your servant has killed both lion and bear; and this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, seeing he has defied the armies of the living God.” 37 Moreover David said, “The Lord, who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.”
And Saul said to David, “Go, and the Lord be with you!”
38 So Saul clothed David with his armor, and he put a bronze helmet on his head; he also clothed him with a coat of mail. 39 David fastened his sword to his armor and tried to walk, for he had not tested them. And David said to Saul, “I cannot walk with these, for I have not tested them.” So David took them off.
40 Then he took his staff in his hand; and he chose for himself five smooth stones from the brook, and put them in a shepherd’s bag, in a pouch which he had, and his sling was in his hand. And he drew near to the Philistine.
41 So the Philistine came, and began drawing near to David, and the man who bore the shield went before him. 42 And when the Philistine looked about and saw David, he disdained him; for he was only a youth, ruddy and good-looking. 43 So the Philistine said to David, “Am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks?” And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. 44 And the Philistine said to David, “Come to me, and I will give your flesh to the birds of the air and the beasts of the field!”
45 Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword, with a spear, and with a javelin. But I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. 46 This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you and take your head from you. And this day I will give the carcasses of the camp of the Philistines to the birds of the air and the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel. 47 Then all this assembly shall know that the Lord does not save with sword and spear; for the battle is the Lord’s, and He will give you into our hands.”
48 So it was, when the Philistine arose and came and drew near to meet David, that David hurried and ran toward the army to meet the Philistine. 49 Then David put his hand in his bag and took out a stone; and he slung it and struck the Philistine in his forehead, so that the stone sank into his forehead, and he fell on his face to the earth. 50 So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone, and struck the Philistine and killed him.
When I started writing this post, I completely forgot that I wrote about David and repentance last week. He must still be in my head! LOL A righteous example in so many ways!
Let’s look at some definitions.
Definition of self-doubt: a lack of faith in oneself: a feeling of doubt or uncertainty about one’s abilities, actions, etc.
Definition of insecure: Not confident or unsure; deficient in assurance: beset by fear and anxiety
I imagine a psychologist could better explain the difference between self- doubt and insecurity, but for the sake of this post, we are going to treat them as the same and use the terms interchangeably.
Clearly, when David stood before Goliath, he was not filled with self-doubt! He was confident in the Lord and prepared to be a witness to both Israel and the Philistines.
The flip side would be confidence.
The definition of confidence is: a feeling or consciousness of one’s powers or of reliance on one’s circumstances; the quality or state of being certain; faith or belief that one will act in a right, proper, or effective way
David had confidence in both himself and God.
This is the place we need to be. This is confidence defined.
Far too often we cannot fulfill God’s will for our lives because we doubt ourselves. We choose to believe that we are not good enough, smart enough, worthy enough, talented enough, or capable of the things God asks us to do.
Did those same doubts go through David’s mind? I don’t think so. He wasn’t looking at the situation as we might. A young man facing a giant. He saw the armies of a false god challenging the armies of his true God.
In the end, it wasn’t about David and Goliath at all.
Learning how to overcome self-doubt is about taking our eyes off of ourselves and focusing on our Creator.
How to Overcome Self-Doubt when Insecurity and Jealousy are the Root
Sometimes insecurity and jealousy go hand in hand. We are caught in the comparison trap. This is a dangerous place to be because we become so focused on what we are not that we no longer see what we are!
We base our success on what we see others have succeeded at. Income, employment, parenting, physical appearance, talents and natural abilities, skills, homes, vehicles, etc. etc. The list is exhausting. No wonder we are faced with the trial of how to overcome self-doubt!
24 “Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: 25 and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.
26 “But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: 27 and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.” (Matthew 7:24-27)
Nowhere in the above mentioned verses are ANY of the items we use to compare ourselves to others. Jesus commands us to build our lives on him, not on the things of the world.
God is My Confidence
We have already seen how David’s confidence was God. He did not think about what he was or was not capable of doing, he focused only on what God could do.
“Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness” (Matthew 6:33)
“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
A yoke was used to connect two oxen together. Jesus is inviting us to “connect with him”. There is no list of requirements. You do not have to first be the bravest or the smartest or the leanest. You do not need to be the holiest or kindest or well versed. You only need to come.
Doesn’t that relieve the pressure? I can see how David could proclaim that “God is my confidence!”?
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13)
“Some trust in chariots, and some in horses;
But we will remember the name of the Lord our God.” (Psalm 20:7)
What if chariots and horses were the insecurities and self-doubt that snares us? The question of how to overcome self-doubt is answered here. “we remember the name of the Lord our God”.
The Battle is Real
Sure this all sounds great, Heather, but all of my self-doubts and insecurities remain no matter how many Bible verses and stories you include.
While I battle this whole concept myself, I am realizing that we have two steps to take.
- Recognize the evil one is working against us. (Excellent post by Gretchen Fleming)
- Change our way of thinking.
Satan would like nothing better than for us to dwell in our sinful nature and never embrace Christ and his work on the cross. He wants us to doubt every step of the way because he knows that faith sets us free. Learning how to overcome self-doubt begins with faith.
Old habits die hard. I know. BUT we need to stop the negative thoughts in order to embrace God’s word and apply it to our lives. That includes applying it to all of our self-doubt and insecurities!
The Bible is full of promises. Memorize them, write them down and hang them up around the house, fill your mind with the powerful weapon God has given us against our negative thoughts. Taking our thoughts captive is one of the best ways to overcome self-doubt and insecurities.
How to Overcome Self-Doubt with Faith
We will all have times in life in which we are unsure of a direction or path we should take. That is where prayerful guidance comes in, but let’s overcome the other doubts that force us to question ourselves and our worth.
Let’s change our thought patterns and resist the evil one who wants nothing more than to leave us feeling insecure and bad about ourselves.
With David as our example and faith as our foundation, we can learn how to overcome self-doubt and insecure thoughts and embrace the victory that is ours.
Are you with me?
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