Are you, like me, somehow confused about how to balance the biblical instruction to believe in God and the advice we hear to “believe in yourself”?
Every time I look around, I see people who believe in themselves and can do the things I want to do. Then I’m “tempted” to believe in myself and get that result too. But sooner than later, I’m convicted with “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.”
From face value it is clear enough… the Bible clearly states we should believe in ourselves. But let’s look deeper. Is believing in yourself and believing in God two mutually exclusive states of the heart?
This article seeks to answer these questions:
- Is it possible to believe in yourself and have faith in God?
- Is it necessary to believe in myself while believing in God?
- How can I have faith in myself and still trust God?
- Are there times when I should choose one over the other?
But before we go deeper, I would like to clearly state a disclaimer and a caveat to this study. The question of believing in God or yourself only pertains to getting certain tasks accomplished.
There are situations where you SHOULDN’T ask at all if you should believe in yourself or believe in God because it’s clear enough. Let’s look at a few:
When You Should Never Believe In Yourself
Salvation only comes from God so you shouldn’t ask if you should believe in yourself. The Bible states clearly that there is no other name given by which we can be saved (except Jesus) Acts 14:12
2. Spiritual Warfare
In warfare with the powers of darkness, there’s no point asking because it is clear enough that it requires divine power to overcome. 2 Corinthians 10:4
But how about more trivial matters like a job interview? Or better still, driving a car? Should I believe in God and don’t worry about preparing for the interview, or should I prepare to a point where I believe in myself that I’m ready to face the panel?
Similarly, after completing a driving lesson, should I believe in God to give me balance or believe in myself that I can now drive before getting on the highway?
I think the distinction is clearer now. Over to our questions…
Is It Possible To Believe in Yourself and Have Faith in God?
Yes, it is possible to believe in yourself and have faith in God. If you see yourself as everything that is within you, the entirety of your being, and what God has made you, then believing in yourself means you believe in God.
However, it depends on what you define “yourself” to be. If “yourself” means you are separated from God, then it is not possible.
Most times when the advice is given to “believe in yourself”, what is being said is, “trust that you can.” That isn’t an issue when you believe your ability comes from God. “God has made me able so I believe in myself.”
In Philippians 4:13, Paul says “I” can do all things through Christ. He was confident in what he could do but understood that the ability came from Christ.
So, the only time when you can’t believe in yourself and believe in God at the same time is when you see yourself as a separate entity from God — when you’re independent of Him.
But if you see yourself as having your source and sustenance from Him, you can believe in yourself and believe in God, since believing in yourself means believing in what God has made and the ability He has given.
Do I Need To Believe In Myself While Believing In God?
Yes, it is necessary to believe in yourself while you believe in God because doubting yourself sometimes means doubting what God has done or can do and it will hinder the flow of His ability.
Sometimes, not believing in yourself can be proof that you think you have to earn God’s ability for it to manifest. You are saying in your heart, “I know God can do this but I’m not sure he’d do it through me” for whatever reasons you give.
Remember I said earlier that the only possibility of trusting God while believing in yourself is when you see your ability as coming from Him.
So, if you believe God can, you should believe you can too because His ability will flow through you.
Biblical proof: When Joseph was called to interpret the dream, Joseph answered Pharaoh, “It is not in me [to interpret the dream]; God [not I] will give Pharaoh a favorable answer [through me].” Genesis 41:16
Notice two things… He is acknowledging the fact that God is the source of the ability, but he’s also confident that it would flow through him.
If Joseph believed in himself without believing in God, he’d have said (in his heart or verbally)… “I’ve been doing this for long; I’m a pro here”
If he believed in God but not himself, he’d have said… “I know God can give Pharoah an answer of peace but I’m not sure he’d do it now”
But because he believed that God’s ability is now at work in him, he went to Pharaoh boldly. Just as we are God’s ambassadors to represent Him. The authority has been given to us already. (2 Corinthians 5:20, Matthew 18:18-20)
What is Faith In God?
My mentor, and an authority on the subject of faith, Bishop David Oyedepo, taught me that faith is sharing responsibility with God on the basis of His Word. That is, playing your part and leaving God to play His part.
What this means is that to walk in faith with God, there is what you are to do and what you shouldn’t do.
Trying to do God’s part (even though you can’t) is pride, and leaving your part is irresponsibility.
See some examples
|Situation||God’s Part||Your Part|
|Your Salvation||Save you||Believe in God|
|Divine intervention||Give the answer||Pray to God|
|Bringing others to Christ||Convict them||Preach the Word|
Why I had to explain this is to point out that you shouldn’t say you are believing God for something that is your responsibility. For example, God wouldn’t drive your car for you or attend your job interview for you (except in special cases). That’s your responsibility.
How Can You Have Faith in Yourself And Still Trust God?
1. See Him as the source of your ability
(as explained earlier)
2. When there’s a need for it, and you’ve tried and you can’t do a task that’s up to you, trust Him
Like with the job interview, you should prepare till you are ready. If you don’t prepare you shouldn’t expect the job because preparation is your responsibility. But if there’s a case where you can’t help not preparing or you’ve tried your best in preparing and you seem not to get it, you should trust him to make it good.
3. Even while you can, trust Him to make it good
After preparing for your job interview till you are sure you can, still trust him because your human ability and intelligence can’t match his ability to give you the job. You go there with the mindset, “I have prepared and I’m ready but God will make it good and give me the job.” Or, “I’m sure I’ve learned how to drive. But God will preserve me and give me balance”
Do you have experiences where you’ve had to trust God and believe in yourself? Share your experience in the comments.
Olusegun Iyejare is a career coach and certified counselor. He helps individuals discover and maximize their potential to live satisfying lives regardless of obvious limitations holding them back.