"Make the most of yourself, for that is all there is of you."
Ralph Waldo Emerson
I believe it was in the early 1960's when the 'self-esteem' ball got rolling. And it continues to roll. According to the majority of psychologists self-esteem is what makes us, or breaks us. We as flawed human beings are always looking for a reason, or perhaps an excuse, for what we do not like about ourselves.
Personally, I'd rather have self-control than self-esteem. Especially after reading these definitions. . .
Self-esteem - undue pride in oneself, conceit, vanity and egotism
Self-control - poise, restraint, reserve, discretion, stability, and dignity
In my humble opinion, if a person has self-control, self-esteem will follow. You can't have one without the other. Most of us have noticed that controlling one's self isn't all that easy. To do this, we need to rely on the help of the Holy Spirit.
If we are not a confident person, probably others won't have confidence in us either. A believer should understand that it's not about having confidence in our abilities alone. God has made us according to His design. Psalm 139:13-14 says that God "knit me together in my mother's womb", and I am "fearfully and wonderfully made". Paul writes in Romans 9: 20 that God is the potter and we are the clay. He molds us into the person He wants us to be. God has an eternal purpose; we're centered on the 'here and now'.
We need to view ourselves as a three dimensional person. First, and most important, we need to see ourselves as God sees us, second, we need to see ourselves as others see us. Last, we need to see ourselves as we perceive ourselves.
You may think that you're a 'nobody', but if you are 'in Christ', believe me, you are a 'somebody'!
"For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God."
If God has hidden our life, we can't see it unless or until He wants us to. But we can trust that it is safe with Him. He has given us the gift of faith, grace to be saved from our sinful nature, the fruit of His Spirit - love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. He's also given us spiritual gifts that will bring joy and peace to someone else's life. You have a place and a purpose in this world. Remember that man looks at our outward appearance, but God looks at our heart - I Samuel 16:7.
It's difficult for me to think of Jesus gathering His disciples and telling them they need to have more self-esteem. Or preaching to the multitudes and telling them that life would be so much better if they learned how to esteem themselves. Instead, He told them to esteem God. He did say that we are to love our neighbor as ourself - Matthew 22:39. I believe Jesus was teaching a simple truth; other people are as valuable as you are, honor them.
We have to wonder what causes the common malady of low self-esteem. Sometimes it's merely a personality trait that we need to accept. It isn't always something or someone who has caused a poor self image, it's just the way we are. However, we can point to some very specific causes based on many years of psychological data. One of these is living in a way, and doing what you know isn't right. It's hard to think well of yourself when you're ashamed of your behavior, or who you are. Self respect comes from behaving respectfully.
David, who wrote most of the beautiful psalms, was in terrible distress about that whole Bathsheba mess until he admitted his sin to the Lord and asked for His forgiveness. Read Psalm 32: 1-5; it's a beautiful passage and paints a picture of the agony we may go through until we 'get right' with God.
Sexual promiscuity is so pervasive. During this time in history when the moral code has slipped off the radar, it's easy to be caught up in a vicious circle. Psychologists tell us that a lack of personal esteem is the prime cause of sexual immorality. Sexual activities then produce more feelings of low esteem. This is not a winning scenario that results in feeling good about yourself.
I've taught in our local jail for over fourteen years. The majority of people in jail or prison are there because of alcohol and drug addiction that ultimately causes them to cross the line, commit a crime and be incarcerated. We're told that low self-esteem is the cause of addiction. Not being able to control the drinking and drug use causes even lower self-esteem.
Low esteem leads to feelings of insecurity and often reflects itself in becoming materialistic. The Lord wants us to have good things. Do you know that Abraham had an indoor bathroom in his home over 4,000 years ago? They've found the ruins in the Ur of Chaldeans, modern day Iraq. David, Solomon, even Job had great riches. There are many people in the world who have worked hard, done well, or had wealth passed on to them. It's not a bad thing for them to enjoy their wealth. I'm referring to those who need to wear the 'right' clothes, drive an eye-catching car, shop at the Nordstrom's of the world, who spend every spare moment beautifying their home etc., all because 'nice things' help them to overcome feelings of low esteem and insecurity. But they never do, it's still there, still hurting them. Most of us learn sooner or later that material things cannot make our life more meaningful.
So, what's the answer? How do we 'fix' this? I'm aware of only one way that is consistently successful. Secular psychology cannot generate any true and lasting sense of personal dignity. No matter how hard we try, we need help from God. He created us and when we're broken, He can put us together again - no one else can do that, not ourselves, not a psychologist, only God.
The book of I John speaks to us about God's love. John tells us that God is love, 4:16, and that we love because he first loved us, 4:19. My summation of this book is that we are to be who God created us to be, His beloved child. Let us look at ourselves as God does; holy, forgiven by Jesus, and righteous in His eyes. We do the will of God, I John 2:17, when we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior.
"Then they asked him, "What must we do to do the works God requires?" Jesus answered, "The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent." John 6:28 - 29.
There is only one 'work' to do, believe in Jesus, the One God sent. Bask in this love, relish it, drink it in, bath in it, swim in it, luxuriate in it! I may be getting a bit carried away but I'm trying to make a point that this is the only way to solve the problem of self-esteem. If this isn't a problem for you, I'm sure you don't need to look far to find a family member or friend who is suffering. The temptation is always to elevate this person so they'll feel better about themselves. Resist this and elevate the Lord instead. Once we understand how much the Lord loves and esteems us, we'll be able to see ourselves in a different light.
And by the way, the Scripture is full of accounts of those, like Moses, who weren't sure of their value. This goes all the way back to the Garden of Eden and a broken promise with God. God gave the Apostle Paul a thorn in his flesh. We're not sure what that was, but we do know from Paul's words in I Corinthians 12 that he was tormented by it and pleaded with the Lord to remove it. This is what the Lord told Paul in vs. 9
"My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."
Torment comes in many different forms - disease, loneliness, difficult relationships, lack of money - you can come up with your own list. We had five teenagers at one time. The youngest turned thirteen and the oldest was nineteen. That was torment!
Ever feel a little weak? I do. Do the problems and decisions in life seem overwhelming at times? Stand tall and believe as Paul did.
"Therefore I will boost more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. . .For when I am weak, I am strong." II Corinthians 12: 9,10
I want the Lord's power to rest on me because I've noticed that my own power isn't adequate to deal with all the problems in this world. I believe this is what we all want, God Power!
Thank you Lord that we can count on Your power and strength. Help us to see ourselves through Your eyes, and understand how much you value those who love You.
Bobbe Van Hise
- Over the past few years my blog has been visited by people from all over the world. Very few know me, or of me, they simply are looking information concerning the Bible and discover my blog. After many years of intense study and teaching, I've come to believe we are vulnerable to misguided and incorrect teaching if we don't understand for ourselves the teaching of God's Word. My 'hot buttons' are - grace, sovereignty, exhortations and sanctification. If you understand these basic principles of Scripture, and apply them to daily life, you will understand what it means to have peace, joy and absolute security in any circumstance.