Self Esteem

April 19, 2014

Self Esteem

            We all need self-esteem, but we are often mistaken about how much of it we need. Just because we feel good about ourselves doesn’t mean that we have good self-esteem. Not everything that makes us feel good is necessarily good and visa-versa. Drugs can make us feel good, but they may also do us harm. Sometimes the truth hurts, but we must accept it.

Low self-esteem can defeat us. It makes us feel inadequate and we lack initiative. On the other hand, high self-esteem can make us proud. In this article we are going to deal mostly with problems that result from high self-esteem.

The word “pride” is sometimes used in a good sense. For example, we sometimes speak of pride of ownership or pride of craftsmanship. We can be proud of our children when they excel. The antonym of pride is shame. It isn’t healthy to live ashamed.

In our day the word in vogue for pride is “narcissism.” Psychologists speak of people who have a “narcissistic personality disorder.” According to the famed Mayo Clinic, it is “A mental disorder in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance and a deep need for admiration.” Cited from: Mayo Clinic Staff, “Narcissistic personality disorder,”, Nov.29,2007, The same magazine states that “In data from 37,000 college students, narcissistic personality traits rose just as fast as obesity from the 1980s to the present.” Therefore it’s a growing problem that we have to deal with.

Problems that result from pride

A feeling of superiority

We don’t feel comfortable around people who feel superior to us. They call us snobs. If we are proud, it may be difficult for us to make and keep friends.

Proud people are easily offended

Proud people may feel slighted if they don’t get their way. They think they deserve something better. It is a blow to their esteem if others are chosen instead of them.

Proud people have a deep need of attention and admiration

They boast about what they have done as a means of getting attention. They are often part of a mutual admiration society.

Proud people find it hard to take correction

Rather than take correction in the right spirit, they label it criticism. We all need correction at times. One time a man was driving down the highway. He happened to see a calf in a pasture that was in a predicament. It had stuck its head in a bucket. The bail of the bucket got hooked on his ears and he couldn’t get it off. The man stopped his car and went to rescue the poor animal. He snuck up on it but he wasn’t quick enough. As soon as the calf realized that someone was approaching, it turned and ran to the far side of the pasture. The man wanted to help him, but the calf wouldn’t let him. That’s often what happens to proud people when someone tries to correct them.

We are apt to have a problem is our self-esteem comes from what others say about us. That makes our worth dependent on what people in society think about us. That leaves us on very unstable ground.

God’s people have a more secure reason for having good self-esteem. It is based on what God’s opinion is of us. In Ephesians 1:3-4 we find these words, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:

According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love.” Yes, we too have our limitations and peculiarities, but I Corinthians 15:10 says “But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which wasbestowed upon me was not in vain.”

That doesn’t mean God’s people never have a problem with pride. They are partakers of the divine nature as we read in II Peter 1:4. “Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” However, they still have the old nature. In Ephesians 4:22 it is called “the old man.” That old man gets us into a lot of trouble. Many times we are embarrassed because of what he talked us into doing. That doesn’t help our self-esteem.

If our self-esteem is too low we need to take heed to Ephesians 4:22-25. “That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts;   And be renewed in the spirit of your mind;   And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.   Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another.” If we do that, we won’t be doing things that bring us to shame.

If, on the other hand, our self-esteem is too high, it needs to brought into line. We can pray sincerely the prayer of David in Psalm 139:23-24. “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts:   And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” The reason for praying that prayer is found in I Peter 5:5-6. “Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.  Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time.”

To be humble is not the same as having low self-esteem. It just means that we see ourselves as we really are. The Apostle Paul said in Romans 7:18, “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.” Paul didn’t have low self-esteem. His hope was in God.

Humility will get us much farther with God and our fellow men than pride ever will. Yes, we need self-esteem, but it’s easy to get too much of it. We are often tempted to think we don’t have enough of it. In Philippians 4:19 we have the promise that “God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” That includes our self-esteem. Let God give you the measure he knows you need.

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