I work at a Christian bookstore, so I see the new and popular books that people in this nation are reading. Sometimes I am encouraged, other times I am deeply depressed, and yet other times I laugh wondering who would fall for some of the crazy ideas out there. One such crazy idea is the popular notion of self-esteem. There are numerous books on self-esteem, and thankfully where I work, there is not a self-improvement section to be found!
I searched the internet for a definition of self-esteem and this is what I found: a feeling of pride in yourself.
Wow. Really? Think about yourself, the nature of humanity, and the fall recorded in Genesis 3. I am not sure that having pride, in this sense of the word, is a good thing at all. Here is one reason why: You will let yourself down! You are not perfect, I doubt if there is much good in you. I know there is not much in me. The popular notion of self-esteem is a money-making scheme for secular authors to swindle you into thinking all you need is yourself. I tell you now, you need more than yourself. You need the Gospel.
Self-esteem is entirely selfish. Your focus is on you, and you alone, and what you can do for you. It does not sound very fulfilling, because it isn’t. The promotion of self-esteem is a sin-filled circle of hopelessness. You know why self-esteem is a joke? You were not made for you. Answer me this: Did you choose to be born? Was it your choice whether or not you came into this world? It may have been your parents’ choice, but without the grace of God, we would be unable to create life. You are here because God wants you here. You are not alive to serve yourself. Self-esteem gimmicks will try to get you to serve yourself, thus feeling better about who you are. But it is a lie. You cannot ultimately satisfy yourself.
You don’t need self-esteem. I repeat: you do not need self-esteem. You need confidence. I searched for a definition of confidence and this is what I found: The feeling or belief that one can rely on someone or something; firm trust. That sounds better! I firmly rely and trust in something, actually someone, beyond myself. In fact, this someone made me and all there is and he died on my behalf because he loves me.
Let me point out a few things that you can be confident in.
1) You were made in the image of God. Genesis 1-2. This alone should revolutionize the way you live your life and the way in which you see others. There, within you, is the mirror that reflects your Creator. No other creature on this earth has been given that gift to be set apart. You are a treasure of God because you represent Him in your mere existence.
2) If you are a Christian, you can have confidence in your adoption into the family of God. Ephesians 1.4-5, Galatians 4.4-6, Romans 8.15-16, 23. You are no longer estranged from the maker of the universe and the savior of your soul. You are called a son of God. You are called a daughter of God. If you are in Christ, that is, if you believe that he died on the cross for the atonement of your sins, you are his little brother or sister. No one can remove you from the family of God because God has put you there. This is the title of your life that will never fade away. You may have your name in lights, on the cover of a book, pasted on the internet and magazines, but when you die, God will call you His child. He will not welcome you into His arms for being a celebrity, or having more self-esteem than anyone else. He will welcome you because you are His child. This is an everlasting title and should be cherished beyond anything else.
3) To counter self-esteem, I would like to use the word confidence. I hear that one can gain more self-esteem. I am not quite sure how. It is not as though you are an empty glass and you can pour some in every now and then. I contend that we should not trust in ourselves (self-esteem) because we are all sinners, even the good we do, apart from God, is like a filthy rag. Isaiah 64.6. Get rid of the pride in yourself, it will only weigh you down. It is a burden that weighs a ton. It is not self-esteem that matters, but God’s esteem for you.
Here is my answer, and I argue it is biblical. Have confidence in the One who made you and calls you His child. The purpose of life is not to fulfill yourself, but to love God and to be filled by His grace. You cannot be confident in yourself, unless you are confident in the God who holds your future. The way in which you think about yourself should be determined upon the way in which God sees you. He made you in His image, if you call Jesus Lord, God will call you child. Here is our hope. Here is our security. Here is our confidence.
Throw self-esteem out the window, and be confident in God’s purposes for you. If you do this, the opinion of others will not measure up. You will not care what they say anymore because you know what your Father in heaven thinks of you. The negative thoughts you have about yourself will not matter anymore, because you will be confident in your Father calling you into His family.