by Joanna Meyer
A quick scan of the internet reminded me how challenging it can be for women to find a public presence that works for us today, with articles like “5 Ways Humility Is Keeping Women Keeping Women Stuck and Afraid”, “How Confidence Is Weaponized against Women”, and “Is It Possible to be Humble AND Confident?” When modern life makes me feel torn between these two extremes, Scripture’s timeless wisdom helps me navigate this tension.
The Bible instructs us to “be completely humble and gentle” (Ephesians 4:2) and tells us that “God opposes the proud” (James 4:6), so how can we exude confidence in our work and leadership while demonstrating godly humility?
The internal conflict you feel balancing these seemingly conflicting characteristics may come from misconceptions about what it means to be humble. To learn how to cultivate humble confidence, let’s begin by looking at what humility is not.
Jesus is described as being gentle and lowly of heart, but that does not mean he was insecure. He was utterly clear about his purpose and was unwavering in that pursuit. Jesus' confidence flows from his unshakeable identity as God’s son. At Christ’s baptism, just before he started his public ministry, the Father declared, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17). Imagine hearing that message before you went to work - it would fill anyone with confidence!
Understanding your identity as a beloved child of God frees you from needing to prove yourself because your worth is no longer found in what you do or how you perform. You gain confidence to express your ideas and the resilience you need to bounce back when a situation doesn’t go your way.
At times, you might think, if God wants something to happen, He will make it happen. This is the opposite of the proactivity we see from the opening pages of Scripture. In Genesis 1, God creates the earth and entrusts it to humankind to care for and develop its potential. God has equipped you with gifts to use, so being passive about your career, your relationships, or your influence is neither humble nor faithful. Your drive, when aligned with God’s purposes, has the power to shape the world.
True humility brings clarity—it’s about seeing ourselves rightly in light of who we are and who God is. Recognizing that we are imperfect, yet deeply loved, keeps us humble while bringing a confidence secure in God’s presence and faithfulness.
With your identity rooted in Christ, it’s time to experiment with the ways this humble confidence can guide you through the challenges of daily life.
We live in a world that pushes us toward the extremes of pride and insecurity every day. The pressure to chase likes on social media or fear that your career or life stage is not progressing at the pace of your peers can turn life into a performance. So, before I share a post on social media, I examine my motivation. Will the content I share benefit others? Does it offer insight or bring beauty or joy to someone’s day? Am I centering myself or celebrating God’s goodness or the accomplishments of others? Pursuing humble confidence challenges me to keep my phone in my purse, rather than turning every interaction into a story. Ask yourself what motivations shape the way you show up in the world.
Notice situations that produce strong emotions in you, like anxiety, anger, or despair. What deeper need was challenged that sparked that emotion? You might discover an underlying need to be right, a need to be seen, or the need to be perceived as successful. Invite feedback from a trusted friend or mentor to help you evaluate the situation more clearly. That feedback can help you navigate settings that require a more confident presence.
Recently, a friend pulled me aside after a group presentation to ask why I faded back after I finished speaking. I thought I was making room for a colleague, but she shared that it made me look insecure at a moment when I needed to establish my leadership. Her feedback helped me understand the nuance of the situation and reminded me that to coexist, confidence and humility must be managed carefully. The French archbishop Francois Fenelon wrote that “Humility is not a grace that can be acquired in a few months: it is the work of a lifetime.” Becoming a student of your setting and the way you respond to it is the first step in a lifelong journey towards humble confidence.
Joanna Meyer founded Women, Work, & Calling, a national initiative of Denver Institute for Faith & Work, that equips Christian women for godly influence in public life. In addition to her organizational leadership, she hosts the Faith & Work Podcast. Her new book is Women, Work, & Calling: Step into Your Place in God’s World (InterVarsity Press).