devozine

For Youth Workers Post

CONFIDENCE

Steve Matthews

“In the Habit” session for use with devozine meditations for October 5–11, 2015.

MAKING THE CONNECTION

“As a teenager and into my twenties, I would have characterize myself as a pretty confident guy. Life wasn’t perfect, but I had a good life. I traveled, maintained strong relationships, and had meaningful work in which I thrived. I was friendly, well liked, generally happy, and mostly self-assured until the slide started. When I was twenty-nine, I started getting depressed. Within a few weeks, I was in an emotional pit. I was sleeping four hours a night, not eating much, and trying to work through graduate school at the same time. I didn’t want to talk to anyone, I cried a lot, and I periodically got panic attacks. In short, my confidence was shot. I couldn’t even pray. I had no idea what I was going to do with the rest of my life. All I could do was to live through the next moment and hope that the rest would take care of itself.

“It did. With some good therapy, I started finding my feet again. As I worked my way through the depression, I realized how much of my confidence was based on a sense of aptitude. The more I felt good about my job, my friendships, my appearance, my accomplishments, the more confident I was. What I discovered was that I could not find security in any of these things. The world is a fickle place; and none of our relationships, careers, or health is permanent.

“What remains if everything else gets washed away? Where do we find confidence when we lack the seemingly essential sense of aptitude and ability to find our own way? For me, the answer came in an overwhelming sense of grace and in a growing sense of my own belovedness. I mattered. I could be confident not only because of my strengths but also because, at my core, I was loved by God. I realized that what mattered most was confidence in the deepest truth: God loves me. While my accomplishments and aptitudes can surely boost or erode my confidence, when I remember God’s love, I am stronger because I am confident in what really matters.” —Steve

MEET THE WRITER

devozine Steve Matthews IMG_0433
Steve Matthews
was a youth minister for more than fifteen years. He lives in the South Coast of Massachusetts and is the Director of the South Coast Mission Hub (a collaborative of churches sponsored by the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts). Steve is also a spiritual director and a consultant working systematically to redevelop parish ministries struggling with decline. He was a writer for The Way of Pilgrimage: An Adventure in Spiritual Formation for the Next Generation.

STUFF YOU WILL NEED

PLUGGED IN

There are many resources out there relating to the theme of confidence.

  • The songs “Alive” by Freddie Colloca and “My Hallelujah Song” by Julianne Hough both point to something besides our own strength as a source of confidence.
  • This clip from the Will Smith movie The Pursuit of Happyness shows how easily confidence can be eroded and how important support and encouragement from our community can be as we marshal our strength to move forward.

CHECKING IN

Begin this time with an opening ritual: a moment of silence, a short prayer that the group says together, or a lit candle to symbolize Christ’s presence. Take a moment to claim the space and time as holy.

Then invite group members to answer the following question:
       Confidence can give us a sense of assurance as we navigate life. When in the last couple of weeks have you felt a sense of confidence in yourself and your abilities?

Next, ask group members to reflect in silence, saying, “You may be more aware of a recent time when your confidence stumbled. What was the situation? What sparked the feeling? What role did others play?”

Invite volunteers to talk about situations in which they lost confidence. Encourage group members to listen prayerfully to the responses without comment.

You may want to summarize, on newsprint, both times when group members felt confident and times when they lost confidence.

EXPLORING THE WORD

Scripture: Romans 8:31–39

What is confidence? Does brain chemistry make some of us strong and cause some of us to struggle? Is confidence an attitude of some strong-hearted, determined person who moves forward no matter what? Is it a commodity that can be ignited and extinguished by others? The answer is “yes.” Confidence comes to us and leaves us for a variety of reasons, but we can choose where we root our confidence.

Distribute paper and pencils. Invite group members to list the things that affect their confidence. Then invite them to list the ways their confidence can be strengthened.

Invite group members to read aloud Romans 8:31–39. Encourage them to say aloud the word or phrase that jumps out at them.

Read the scripture again as group members read along in silence. Invite discussion:
       What are your thoughts or reflections on the text?
       Where does the passage suggest we should root our confidence?
       When and how have you sensed God encouraging and sustaining you?
       What do you see in this community that gives you a growing sense of confidence in God?

SHARING IN PRAYER

Distribute copies of “St. Thérèse of Liseux Prayer from ‘Story of a Soul.’” Invite the group to say the prayer in unison.

     “May today there be peace within.
     May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be.
     May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith.
     May you use those gifts that you have received,
     and pass on the love that has been given to you.
     May you be content knowing you are a child of God.
     Let this presence settle into your bones,
     and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise, and love.
     It is there for each and every one of us.
               Amen.

TAKING IT FURTHER

Invite the group to watch the film clip from The Pursuit of Happyness. Then discuss:
       How can others affect our sense of confidence?

Suggest that the Christian community can make a dramatic difference in our confidence. While God may be our ultimate source of confidence, often we need one another to flesh out God’s love and confidence in us.
       Whom can you encourage? Who needs your sense of confidence to move forward?

Ask group members to write on an index card the name of someone they can encourage by reaching out to him or her this week.

—from devozine In the Habit (September/October 2015). Copyright © 2015 by The Upper Room®. All rights reserved.

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