Be Confident!

Healthy leadership and sound servanthood bank on having real confidence. So what does that look like?

My last name is Hurlbutt. You can imagine navigating life as an athlete in high school and college with that as your last name! Yup! Builds character.

My high school basketball coach nicknamed me “Hurlstrut” not because I had an orthopedic issue, but because I was cocky, and it showed in my stride.

Some men are cocky. Some men are insecure. Most are a mixture of both. But not near enough are confident in any biblical sense of the idea. Yet healthy leadership and sound servanthood bank on having real confidence. So what does that look like?

I learn a lot in this area from a particular part of King David’s life before he
became a great leader: his battle with Goliath.

A little background first...
David did not have an intimidating appearance, but he did possess a heart that was available and willing to be used by God (1 Sam. 16:7b). It was upon this ruddy young man that the Spirit of God came (1 Sam. 16:13). David, having been anointed in obscurity, was thown into the public arena, center stage, to do battle with a most foreboding foe. Yet in that context David wields an uncanny confidence. It is clearly portrayed in 1 Sam. 17:41-47. Here Goliath scorns David and proclaims his intentions.

Certainly if a large boned man that stood over nine feet tall declared—WWE-style—that he was going to give my “flesh to the birds of the air and the beasts of the field” (vs. 44) it might be safe to say that my confidence would be a bit shaken. Yet David views his enemy in contrast to God rather than himself. Look at what he says to the giant in vs. 45-46:

45Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword and 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 down and cut off your head. And I will give the dead bodies of the host of the Philistines this day to the birds of the air and to the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel,

David’s confidence is in the “Lord of hosts”, not in his own stature and abilities. The story of David’s victory over Goliath and the consequent routing of the Philistine army by Israel show us what true confidence looks like. The author of 1 Samuel lets us in on three hallmarks of confidence in the life of David.

Hallmark #1 A confident man recalls God’s protection. 
In an attempt to convince Saul that he should be allowed to go face the giant, David recounts his slaying of a bear and a lion. These were certainly mighty feats for a young man, really any man for that matter. However, David is not out for self-glorification. Instead, he makes the point to Saul that it was “the Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear (vs. 37a).” David’s confidence is rooted in his recollection of the faithful protection of God in his past experience.

Think about a few questions:

 ~ How has God been faithful to you in the past?
 ~ Do you recall those moments and allow those past experiences to fuel your future confidence?
 ~ It is often said that “hindsight is twenty-twenty.” But when will your
hindsight begin to illumine your foresight?
 ~ When will God’s faithfulness in the past be a sword you wield in the

Hallmark #2 A confident man realizes God’s power. 
In vs. 37 David immediately jumps from recollection to realization. He states that, in light of what God has done in the past, he is confident of God’s power in the present. Notice his words, “The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will deliver me from the
hand of this Philistine (vs. 37).” He affirms his understanding of the power of God in vs. 45-46. The Lord will deliver him because the Lord is “Almighty.” Perhaps we commit the same error that the reformer Martin Luther accused Desiderius Erasmus of when he said to him, “Your thoughts of God are too human.”1 Our God is limitless in power. And he has given us a spirit of power (cf. 2 Tim. 1:7). The power that we have is his power working in and through us. What confidence this truth should give us! What expectation for tomorrow’s challenges! What hope of personal victory! May God keep us from thoughts of him that are too human. And may he make us bold with the realization that in our weakness his strength is demonstrated, even as he said to Paul, “For my power is made perfect in weakness (2 Cor. 12:9).”

Hallmark #3 A confident man runs for God to receive praise. 
In other words, the man who possesses confidence understands his purpose is to praise. After some inspired trash-talk to Goliath that he would be the one to provide the birds and the beasts a feast via the flesh of the entire Philistine army, David exclaimed his reason for doing so: “46b that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, 47 and that all this assembly may know that the LORD saves not with sword and spear. For the battle is the LORD’s (vs. 46b-47a).” David knew that the end goal was that the Lord be praised, that God be made famous. The Lord had placed him there to see that God’s glory not be thwarted. He was God’s instrument. And you are God’s instrument. What confidence this should give each of us as we live our lives! God has allowed obstacles of varied shapes and sizes before us. Some are Goliath-like! But we can have confidence because we know we are called by him to face these challenges under his protection, by his power and for his praise.

So go forward with confidence!


1. As quoted in J. I. Packer, Knowing God, 2nd ed. (Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press, 1993), 88.