That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day. (2 Tim. 1:12)

EVERYONE GETS A TROPHY. Your child doesn’t even have to win a competition to get one. They get one just for participating. We no longer have losers, because we don’t keep score lest we harm the fragile egos of our kids with the reality of disappointment and failure on the playing field or in the classroom.

Even Christian schools and churches counsel moms and dads to parent their children in ways that will contribute to their self-esteem. In far too many of our pulpits, biblical Christianity has been replaced by what author Christian Smith refers to as “moralistic therapeutic deism.”

Yet it’s hard to feel good about yourself when you’re sitting on death row, as Paul was when he wrote his second letter to Timothy. Paul’s lack of shame was not a result of self-confidence, but rather stemmed from his confidence in God to guard his soul and the gospel that he had been entrusted with.

If you really trust Jesus, your confidence will be in Him and His completed work rather than in your own abilities or status. You will likely never be imprisoned for your faith, but Jesus did promise that we would be persecuted and hated by all people because of Him (see Matt. 24:9). Even so, press on to win the prize of perfect fellowship with Jesus that will come on the day that He returns.

Encounter Jesus by reading the Gospels and praying on the basis of what you learn.

Steve Johnson teaches at United Christian Academy in Stanardsville, Virginia, and frequently preaches at area churches. He enjoys life with his wife and five-year-old son.