What Moses Couldn't Do: A Lesson in the Source of Confidence
Published on: 11th September, 2023
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[02:51] - Almost from the very beginning of Moses’ interaction with God around the burning bush, Moses showed a lack of confidence, repeatedly asking what to do if he encountered specific situations and asking God to send someone else. But God reassured him that He would help, the lesson being that Moses and Aaron would be able to take confidence in Him rather than leaning on only themselves.
[04:16] - Many of us take the mentality of Moses and use all kinds of strategies to boost confidence to get through what we perceive will be challenging.
[05:49] - Part of God’s frustration with Moses is that he was leaning so much on himself. God clarified that He was in charge as the Creator and told Moses he would also send Aaron.
[06:27] - Truly unshakeable confidence comes not from self-development, but from faith and the understanding of the God who is behind you.
[08:33] - The story of David and Goliath is a counterstory that shows what happens when someone relies on confidence in God rather than on self-confidence.
[11:07] - You are a conduit just like David was. If you aren’t where you want to be, it’s OK — lean on God and good things still can happen.
The idea that success requires enormous confidence is common in the business world. It ties closely to the concept of being fearless, as well as toxic positivity.
Moses, who had fled to Midian after killing an Egyptian taskmaster, was called by God to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. But instead of simply accepting the call, he initially made all kinds of excuses because he was afraid of Pharoah and not confident in himself.
Like Moses, we often play tapes in our minds of excuses. We try to plan in advance (risk management) and work on our perceived weaknesses to build our own confidence up, rather than looking to God and being confident in Him.
Truly unshakeable confidence comes from faith and the understanding God is behind you, not your own self-development.
The story of David and Goliath provides an example of what it looks like when someone trusts in God rather than themselves.
You, like David, are a conduit by which God can do good things. You still can be self-aware of the gifts He gives you, but see God as the greatest gift and source of power of all.
Whenever you feel tempted to lean too much on self-development to feel better, ask God to increase your faith in Him. Then ask Him for guidance on what to learn or do and express gratitude that He is with you.
What’s coming up next:
What are the spiritual gifts? Which ones do you have, and how can you use them to excel in the workplace? Episode 83 of Faithful on the Clock answers it all.
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Hello, all you listeners out there. I'm your host, Wanda Thibodeaux, and this is Faithful on the Clock, where every petal on the flower blossoms to get your faith and work aligned. I'm excited about today's episode because it's all about the story of Moses. When he didn't have his own confidence, what happened, and what can you learn from his experience that can propel you forward in the things you want or need to do? Let's get goin'.
All right. So to dive in here today, The only real background that I want to give you is this idea that to be successful in business, you have to have enormous confidence. Right? Like, and this connects a little bit to this idea of being fearless in your career. And I talked about that in episode 56 of the show, so if you haven't taken the time to listen to that, I highly recommend that you review it just as kind of a bit of a prerequisite to this episode. And I think it does tie a little bit to the concept of toxic positivity which I covered in episode 28, because one of the things you'll hear a lot in offices is that things will work out or you'll get what you want if you're just confident enough to go get it. So, that's another good episode to just kind of go back and review.
Now, what I wanna point out is Exodus 3 and 4. So, in that story, we center on Moses. And just for context here, Moses was born to a Hebrew mother. Both his mother and father were of the tribe of Levi. And the Pharaoh of Egypt, He had enslaved the people of Israel, the Hebrews. And when he saw that the population of the Hebrews was growing, he issued this really horrible decree that if Hebrew mothers had sons, the Egyptians were supposed to kill those babies and throw them in the Nile River. But Moses' mother hid Moses, and Pharaoh's daughter ends up finding Moses along the Nile. And so Pharaoh's daughter ends up raising Moses as her own son. But when he grows up, he sees a taskmaster mistreating one of his fellow Hebrew people. And he ends up killing that taskmaster. Because of that, Pharaoh tries to have him killed, and Moses flees out of Egypt to the land of Midian. And he basically makes a life for himself there. He marries one of the daughters of the priest of Midian, he has a son, and he works taking care of the flocks. And so that is where Exodus 3 picks up. And Moses is out doing his thing. He's taking care of the animals out in the field, and he sees this bush that is burning up but not being destroyed. And he's like, what the heck is this? I gotta go see what's goin' on. So he walks over to the bush, and God starts speaking to him. And God tells Moses that he's been watching what's been happening with the Israelites, and he calls Moses — who remember, is a Hebrew himself — to go rescue the Israelites, to bring them out of Egypt and out of slavery.
Now right away, in Exodus 3:7, we see Moses hide his face because he was afraid to look at God. And that to me, you know, it’s not such a big deal. I mean, he's face to face with the all-powerful Creator of the universe here. It's a good thing to be a little humble in that circumstance and have a healthy fear of everything that God can do. But as soon as God gives him directions about what to do, we see Moses start to make every excuse under the sun. He's just not confident at all. Verse 11, He basically says, who am I to go do this job? And he starts asking all these questions. You know, what do I do if this happens? Or what if I run into this problem? And God reassures him and shows him some miraculous signs that he can use to convince Pharaoh that God is really behind this mission. Verse 10, Moses basically says, well okay, but I kind of suck at public speaking. You know, he worries that he's not going to be able to deliver this message well and be taken seriously. And God tells him, you know, don't worry about it. I'm the one who made the mouths of men; I'll help you out and teach you what to say. And even with all that, in verse 13, Moses still turns to God and says, pardon your servant, Lord, please send someone else. So, understandably, I think, God starts gettin' a little irritated. And He basically says fine, I'll send your brother Aaron with you, and I’ll help you both speak to Pharaoh.
Now eventually, everything works out in the end. Moses goes to Egypt with Aaron, and he leads the Israelites out of Egypt to the promised land God set aside for them. But what I want you to see is that, you know, God hand-picked Moses for this job. And yet, through this entire encounter Moses has with God, he is totally not a confident person. And in a way, I can't really blame him, because he’s scared that if he goes back to Egypt, the Pharaoh is still going to try and kill him. And he did exactly what I think most of us today do when we are a little bit anxious about something that we need to do. You know, we start to kind of catastrophize everything and go through all these what-if scenarios, and we start letting this tape play in our heads and kind of listing out all the reasons why we're not cut out for the job. And so the corporate world today, the antidote the corporate world prescribes for that is to do everything in your power to boost confidence in yourself. And there are all kinds of strategies for doing that. Like, you might reflect on all of the good things that you've already accomplished. You might rehearse really hard or become super good at risk management and plan really well. You might do a ton of research about what you might encounter and all of the options you have for overcoming hurdles that come up along the way. Or maybe you go intentionally take some classes or target some of the weaknesses you have to eliminate them and keep you from holding you back. But it's always this idea that you have to build yourself up and that the only way you will be successful in whatever you want to do is if you just have this powerhouse mentality.
But when God is talking to Moses, I think the whole reason God gets irritated is because Moses takes that mentality. You know, Moses is basically standing there trying to figure out, you know, if I run into such and such problem, how am I going to handle it? And so when God tells him, you know, look, aren't I the one who made people? Aren't I the one who gave them a way to talk? And he's telling Moses, you don't have to spend all this time worrying and building your own confidence because you can be confident in Me. I am in power, and as long as I am behind you, you don't have to worry. You're gonna win, guaranteed.
So, the bottom line is, you know, I don't think there's anything wrong with being mindful and self-aware about the gifts and strengths that God has given to you. That absolutely can help you walk into a room without being afraid. But when push comes to shove, truly unshakable confidence does not come from self-development. Truly unshakeable confidence comes from faith and the understanding of the God who is behind you. That's why we see in Psalm 71:5, which a lot of scholars attribute to King David, it says, "For you have been my hope, Sovereign Lord, my confidence since my youth." Hebrews 13:6 says, "So we say with confidence, 'The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?" And then later, the apostle Paul, when he's writing to the Corinthians, in 2 Corinthians 3, he talks about how the people are evidence of the apostles' ministry, and he says, "Such confidence we have through Christ before God. Not that we are confident in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant — not of the letter but of the spirit; For the letter kills, but the spirit gets life." And then the last verse that I want to give you is 1 John 4:16 through 18, which says, "And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love." And the theme in all of those verses is that, you know, we don't really have to rely on ourselves. We don't have to be confident in ourselves all the time because we can be confident in God, and because God will be confident on our behalf.
But since I gave you this picture of Moses who really wasn't sure of himself, I want to counter that and show you what it looks like when you do put your confidence in God. And for that, you can turn to 1 Samuel 17. And there we get — and you might have seen this coming — the story of David and Goliath. So David, He's the youngest kid in his family. And he goes to take some bread and cheese and grain to his brothers who were in the camp in the war against the Philistines. And he hears that Goliath is taunting the Israelite army, and everybody tells him about how the king is gonna shower all kinds of good gifts on whoever can kill this guy, right? Like the king is going to give his daughter in marriage, give him all kinds of money, that kind of stuff. And David's brothers, they think David's got some kind of ulterior motive for asking around about what's going on. They tell him he's wicked and conceited. And of course that's not true. But David goes to Saul and tells Saul that he'll go out and fight Goliath. And Saul tries to dissuade him and points out that David's just a kid. You know, he's not a warrior like Goliath is. But David shoots back and he says, nope, my God'll get me through this, just like he got me through fighting all the lions and bears when I was watching the flocks. And when David goes out to meet Goliath, Goliath taunts him, just like he'd been taunting the army for weeks. But David's reply is brilliant. In 1 Samuel 17:45-47, David says, "David said to the Philistine, 'You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands, and I'll strike you down and cut off your head. This very day I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds and the wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord's, and he will give all of you into our hands.'" And I pull that story because it's just such a perfect example of someone who was faithful to God and who went out and did something he really should not have been able to do because he had confidence not in himself, but in God. And David specifically says, you know, this victory isn't gonna happen with all the tools and resources you normally think are necessary. It's not going to happen with the sword or the spear. It's gonna happen by God taking whatever I've got on me and just making me into a conduit.
So that is how I want you to see yourself today, too. You are a conduit, and you do not need to be confident in yourself so much as you need to just be confident in God. And again I'm not saying not to look for the good things that God has given you, your gifts. I'm simply saying that God Himself is a gift, and He is by far the best tool you have to win anything. So if you're not quite where you wanna be yet, it's okay. God can still make things happen right now, today. And if you pray and He does not give you what you want, that doesn't mean He's not with you. It just means He knows better than we do, and that He'll put a stone in your slingshot when it's really your time to do battle.
So let me take just a moment to pray.
God, the business world pushes people to be self-confident in a way that can drive people to think that they have to lean entirely on themselves to go and do amazing things. But Lord, I pray that they will understand how much more they can do when they connect to confidence in You. Release them from this feeling that they just need the right course or training or experience when what they really need is You. Let them understand how much more power and grace and authority they can carry if they trust that You’re there helping. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
So there you have it, people. If you've been struggling to feel skilled already enough, I hope this episode has encouraged you and helps you set aside some of the anxiety you might be having. God'll always have your back if you just get outside your own head and let Him, okay? So, the next episode, I'm covering spiritual gifts. If you don’t know what yours are, or maybe you’ve never even heard anybody talk about spiritual gifts before, I’m gonna chat about how to figure out the gifts you have and how to put them to work in the office. As always, I wanna encourage you to head over to faithfulontheclock.captivate.fm to become a supporting member. You can also become a member or give a one-off tip at faithfulontheclock.captivate/support. Take care of that, and until next time, be blessed.
Faithful on the Clock is a podcast meant to get your Christian faith and work aligned. You won’t find mantras or hacks here--just scripture-based insights to help you grow yourself, your company, and your relationship with God. If you want out of the worldly hamster wheel and want to work with purpose, then this is the show for you. Hosted by freelance business writer Wanda Thibodeaux.
Wanda Marie Thibodeaux is a freelance writer based in Eagan, MN. Since 2006, she has worked with a full range of clients to create website landing pages, product descriptions, articles, professional letters, and other content. She also served as a daily columnist at Inc.com for three years, where she specialized in content on business leadership, psychology, neuroscience, and behavior.
Currently, Thibodeaux accepts clients through her website, Takingdictation.com. She is especially interested in motivational psychology, self-development, and mental health.