You have probably seen the interviews of sports figures who exhibited confidence and those who have shown just as much arrogance. What is the difference? Why is it good to be confident and bad to be arrogant?
Confidence respects people. It give them value even though your intention is to beat the living daylights out of them on the field, the court or even the course. You know that they have some abilities too. You know that they also want to win. You know that they are going to do their best to beat you. You respect their preparation, efforts and passion to win. You execute based on what you know to do rather than expecting the others to lay down and let you win. You may dominate but you don't depend upon your intimidation. They just might not know that you are the big school with the great reputation and are supposed to win.
Confidence expects to execute. It is often based on practice and past experience. It knows what to do and knows it can be done. It can be based on the words of another. A coach or a mentor may tell you what you can do. It gives you confidence to perform. Confidence is good.
Arrogance sometimes looks like confidence but it lacks humility. Arrogance lacks respect for others. Arrogant people praise themselves without any mention of the opponent. They talk "trash" and look like it. Arrogance thinks that it is unstoppable. Arrogance is a great way to get defeated. An arrogant team is often defeated by a team with lesser abilities because they did not respect the team's passion to win. Passion to win often prevails over arrogance.
Arrogance stands in the spotlight. I heard a player recently say, "I couldn't have done it without the rest of my team." Those who hear this may think he was being humble but it revealed something that he was thinking: "I'll bet people think I did this all by myself." There's a lot of arrogance in that.
Paul speaks to believers in telling them to be humble. A few verses later he tells them why they should be confident. The two are not incompatible. We can be humble and confident. Humility is not putting yourself down. It is not thinking that you can't win. It is not thinking little of yourself. Humility is not thinking of yourself at all.
You should be confident in who God is and what He is and will do in your life. You should not be arrogant; thinking it is all about what you do and that the devil will lay down before you today. Always remember that he has an incredible passion to win over you. Confidence is saying that God is greater. Humility is saying that He works through me.
Philippians 2:3 (NIV)
3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.
Philippians 2:13 (NIV)
13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.