How many times have you heard a fictional character given a pep talk to boost their self-confidence? “Believe in yourself” and “follow your heart” are oft-repeated phrases on film and paper. In a character’s darkest hour, where do they turn for help? How do they rise above defeat and conquer the unconquerable?
The answer time and time again is themselves. Self-confidence = self-sufficiency and heroes win the day alone. A one-man fighting force, a one woman activist, these are the people awarded and applauded. I do not judge them, nor do I judge their motives. The question is, “how can they win?” The answer secular media presents? “Ambition, independence, and most of all self-confidence.”
Here we see an inconsistency with our Christian beliefs. We know what the Bible says about us as humans.
“The heart is deceitful above all things,
And desperately wicked;
Who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9)
Leave it to our discernment and efforts to do right and save the world, and…kablooey! THAT IS NOT HOW WE OPERATE!
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.
Do not be wise in your own eyes;
Fear the Lord and depart from evil.” (Proverbs 3:5-7)
This is something Christian authors must acknowledge in their writing. When their broken character comes to the realization that they must do something and asks the question “what should I do?” the first step is for them to seek counsel outside of themselves. Here are just a few ways this could play out.
- Your character prays (Flywheel).
- Your character studies the word of God for direction (Facing the Giants).
- Your character goes for pastoral counseling (Courageous).
Granted, this may not work if you’re writing, say, fantasy without a God character. Your character might not look for divine direction. Some Christian authors say that they try to “write stories that aren’t preachy, but reflect the morality and values of a Christian worldview”. If this is the case with your writing, I beg of you, at the very least, reconcile it with your worldview in this area. If you want to change your reader and point them in the right direction, show them that humanity is needy. Have your character call for help, ask for counsel, maybe even fail, and finally conquer through a strength not found in humanism. And most of all, your mentor/source of wisdom should never say, “Believe in yourself.”
A broken, incapable person who operates out of self-confidence is arrogant. The source of strength and the source of wisdom should never be one’s own heart. Because that leads us astray.
Paul Willis is a young Christian author in Arizona. He is learning (and always will be) the crafts of writing and independent publishing. His style alternates between comedic and poetic. He hopes others will benefit from his experiences and mistakes.