The difference between pride & confidence

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The decision I made to move into full-time vocational ministry was one of the most difficult decisions of my life. It took me nearly a year of praying, fasting, reading, and seeking counsel.

But when I made the decision, there was no swaying me. Not a chance you were going to convince me I was headed the wrong direction. I was sure that the direction my compass was pointing was the right one. I made the decision resolutely and began planning my life around it.

image credit: creation swap user Nathan Michael, edits mine

I wondered, though…was this a healthy confidence? Built on the back of the Truth of Scripture, the counsel of others, and God’s hand leading me throughout the previous 12 months? Or was it simply me trying to mask my self-centered, “I’m-right-and-you’re-not” pride?

The line that distinguishes pride and confidence is often indistinguishable.

From the outside, looking in, it’s like trying to find a fishing line in mid-air. You know it’s there, but unless you find yourself tangled up in it, it’s a line that’s not visible to the naked eye. A line that, if you don’t stand in the right spot, you’ll find yourself hooked by.

To see the fishing line, you need a piece of contrasting material. Hold up a black t-shirt to the line, and it instantly stands out. Take the t-shirt away, and the line seems to go with it.

It’s incredibly easy to slide from confidence into pride. To slide from a healthy view of self to an unhealthy perspective of your gifts and abilities. In fact, if you’re not careful, you won’t even realize you’ve made the transition. It takes intentionally holding up a contrasting material for you to see this invisible line.

Know this: if the line disappears, you’re in trouble. If you can’t tell when you’re moving into pride, your leadership will be damaged. You’ll make poor decisions. You’ll destroy relationships. And you’ll leave a pathway of destruction that will take years to rebuild.

Looking at pride and confidence contrasting each other can be the mirror we use to tell this important distinction.

5 truths about pride

The prideful person

never says they’re wrong.

doesn’t accept input, but goes at everything alone. They makes decisions in a vacuum.

bristles when taking advice/correction.

doesn’t take others into account.

craves public and/or private recognition for the works they’ve done.


6 truths about confidence

The confident person

measures their choices and actions with wisdom.

weighs input from others, and moves towards the Truth.

doesn’t proceed through selfish ambitions. (Philippians 2:3-4)

realizes they can’t do it alone.

knows who they are, and who they aren’t. They’re “confident” where God has gifted them.

works to build others up. (Ephesians 4:12-13)

Let not the wise boast of their wisdom

or the strong boast of their strength

or the rich boast of their riches,

but let the one who boasts boast about this:

that they have the understanding to know me,

that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness,

justice and righteousness on earth,

for in these I delight,”

declares the Lord. – Jeremiah 9:23-24


Have you seen a difference between pride and confidence? Have you seen these distinctions play out? Have you ever slid from healthy confidence to pride?



Christ follower, husband, father, writer, small groups pastor at Saddleback Community Church. Communications director for the Small Group Network.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Rob T

    Good thoughts Ben.  I am glad God called you into ministry, and you’re right, there is a quiet confidence in that.

    • Ben Reed

      Thanks, Rob. Appreciate that encouragement. Needed that today!

  • Tyler Hess

    1st Peter 4:10 is a good verse that goes along with this ”
    As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.”

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  • Avey Owyns

    I’m dealing with this right now. I kind of live in a literal vacuum where I don’t get to share my strengths and gifts too often, but when I do, I’m usually congratulated (and sometimes praised) … but because I didn’t have neither constructive criticism nor compliments in my youth, I fixate on the compliments I receive now to overcome my low self image.

    There’s no doubt I’m naturally prideful, but I struggle with whether or not I’m building my confidence (reminding myself that I am skilled and talented) or whether or not I’m self-indulging (yeah, I’m good).

    • Ben Reed

      Praying for you right now!

      Ben Reed
      Small groups pastor,

  • Dee

    Great thoughts!!! Thanks for sharing! May God bless you tremendously as you continue to allow Him to use you!

  • Joyce

    Your clarity underscores the truth!! Thank you.

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