You cannot open a magazine without seeing an article on how to improve your self-esteem or how to improve your child’s self-esteem. Is self-esteem a biblical concept? Is there anything wrong with wanting to improve your self-esteem?
I think as a society and as Christians we are overly obsessed with self-esteem. We come dangerously close to making self-esteem an idol instead of worshipping God. You may be saying, “Wait a minute doesn’t God want us to feel good about ourselves?” I think God wants us to view ourselves through His eyes and not our own eyes or the world’s eyes.
Let’s look at the difference between the world’s view of self-esteem and how God views us. The world tells us you can do anything if you work hard enough and if you believe in yourself. The world says I am a wonderful person no matter what I do. We often hear a message from the world that beauty is really skin deep. Another strong message from the world is you need to take care of #1, yourself, and do whatever it takes to get to the top. When the world talks about self-esteem you will often find your faults minimized. You may not be encouraged to take an honest look at yourself.
How does God see us and what is God esteem anyway? First, of all God sees us as the crowning finale to His creation. We were the last things He created and He said, “It is good.” I really want you to drink in the thought that God created you (individually) and said, it is good!!
Recently, I had a close family member put herself down and I said, “You are complaining about God’s creation.” He made you and everything about you. He loves you just the way you are. God esteem is very different from self-esteem in that the focus is on God, the Creator, and not us. When we get too focused on self-esteem we take our eyes off of God. We also are not appreciating how God had made us and why He made us. Why did God make us? He made us to glorify Him in everything we do. Our actions are to reflect back and give glory to the Creator.
The world often says make your own way, you are in charge. God says in Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you.” God knows what you are going to do before it happens. He knows the day you will die. We often have the illusion that we are in charge of our lives, but who is really in charge, God is in charge of every area of our lives.
God esteem differs in that our goal is to serve others and point them to Christ. That is very different from self-esteem that is all about getting your own needs met. God esteem is also about sanctification. Sanctification is a fancy word that means as Christians the Holy Spirit is daily making us more and more like Christ. We will not be perfect until we reach heaven, but we are being renewed daily. Through the sanctification process, God works on our faults and sometimes we have to look at things in our life that need to be changed. When we allow God to make a heart change in our lives, then those changes last. Much different from the world’s self-esteem changes that feel good for awhile, but will not last long term. Also, the world often makes excuses for wrong choices, but we know sin is very real and we are responsible for our actions.
In conclusion, the problem I see with self-esteem as defined by the world is the focus is on us and not God. Truthfully, we should not have any problems feeling good about ourselves. God sent His only son to die for our sins and God loves us no matter what we do. God created us and said, “It is good.” Also, God chose us (you individually) to be His children before the world began. Now, that is incredible! The more you spend time focusing on what God has done for you and how much He loves you, you cannot help but feel good about yourself. (I want to add one word of caution, I realize, as a therapist, that sometimes you can be depressed and that can affect how you view yourself and God. A Christian therapist can help address that issue more with you.) Spend time meditating on how God sees you and begin to accept His view of you and not the world’s.
Kimberly M. Chastain, MS, LMFT is the Christian Working Mom Coach and a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. She is the author of 2 ebooks, Pearls of Encouragement for Christian Working Moms and Help! My Preteen/Teenager is Driving me Nuts. You can find both of those books at www.christianworkingmom.com. Also, check out her blog and Online Bible Study as well. You can have coaching tips delivered to your email box daily, find out more at http://www.kimberlychastain.com/cwmtips.htm.
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