It is the opinion of many that a healthy level of self-esteem and self-confidence are vital for a successful life.
There are thousands of sayings, quotes, memes, pictures, and articles that preach the need to love ourselves, accept ourselves, and believe in ourselves. At first glance it may seem like we are indeed obsessed with “ourselves”, but it is likely the opposite. It seems to reflect a sore spot that is crying out to be healed.
Studies have shown that self-confident people are more successful, happier, healthier, and less likely to suffer from depression, anxiety, peer pressure, alcohol and drug abuse, suicide, eating disorders, and other negative physical and mental barriers.
According to an article in the Promotion of Mental Health:
The most basic task for one’s mental, emotional and social health, which begins in infancy and continues until one dies, is the construction of his/her positive self-esteem.
Despite this knowledge, we are seeing a rise in the negative and dangerous behaviors listed above, indicating that we may just be in the middle of a global identity crisis.
The need for a strong sense of self-worth, self-confidence, and self-esteem has perhaps never been more clear. Yet, when we look around us, watch television, or tune into the news, we see a great deal of behavior that looks an awful lot like self-love, selfishness, and self-service.
How can we have a nation full of people who are floundering, looking for love, longing to be accepted, and dying (sometimes literally) to be understood, yet have such strong influences preaching the opposite?
What are we to think when reality television, world leaders, and an overall cultural vibe is sending us the message that we should be putting ourselves above others, flaunting our money, shouting louder than everyone else, and seeing to our own needs first?
The word “self” suddenly becomes tricky. Should we love ourselves, or not?
Is self-confidence, strong identity, and self-esteem a healthy mindset, or a dangerous attitude?
After all, as Christians we are taught to not be selfish, self-centered, or self-involved. There are numerous Bible passages about the importance of humility and sacrifice (the last shall be first and the first shall be last for example). Our own selfish ambitions and vanity are to be checked at the door as we value others more than we value ourselves.
That being said:
- It feels good to take care of our bodies, nurture ourselves, forgive ourselves, accept ourselves, value ourselves, and love ourselves.
- In contrast, criticizing ourselves, judging ourselves, doubting ourselves, and feeling uncomfortable in our own skin, generates feelings of depression, insecurity, anxiety, and sometimes even self-loathing. It can cause us to reach for something to ease the pain… food, alcohol, sex, pills, cutting, unhealthy relationships, or even violence.
Surely God did not intend for us to suffer through life in a cloud of despair? Surely He created us for a greater purpose…
So, how is this supposed to play out in the life of a Christian, and just what are we supposed to teach our children?
Perhaps it all comes down to context…the reasons why we love ourselves, and how this self-love plays out in our lives.
There is a difference between worldly love and heavenly love.
The Bible teaches us that we were created in the image of God, and that gives us a unique worth that nobody can take away. We are sinful, imperfect, and flawed, but we have been redeemed by Christ, and we are LOVED by God.
When we wear self-confidence and pride as a shield to protect ourselves from the reality of our sin, we are getting it all wrong. This is not real confidence, but instead a false bravado that we are using to cover up our pain, discomfort, or longings. Loving ourselves should never be used as an excuse for harmful or hurtful behavior. When our confidence is rooted in our money, our looks, our intelligence, our strength, or our wisdom, it is fallible, fragile, and empty.
- Our true identity lies in the fact that we are children of God.
- Our real security comes in knowing that we belong to Him, and in that we find our worth.
- True self confidence is found in the realization that we are cherished, forgiven, and important, not for who we are, but for who He is.
In the article Is Good Self-Esteem Important for a Christian, and How Is It Developed? David J. Engelsma quotes,
These are the aspects of a proper, positive, Christian self-esteem. First, as a believer, I may and must know myself to be chosen by God and, therefore, as precious to God. God has loved me from eternity. Second, as a believer, I may and must know myself as redeemed, not with silver or gold, but with the precious blood of God’s own Son in our flesh, and, therefore, as precious to the Lord Jesus Christ. Third, as a believer, I know myself as regenerated and indwelt by the Holy Spirit. I am, therefore, a new creature in Christ. I possess the life of the risen Jesus Christ Himself. I am the temple of God.
- This is the kind of security that wraps itself around us like a hug.
- This is the kind of confidence that gives us the courage to be the people who God created us to be.
- This is the kind of acceptance that assures us that in God, we always have a place to belong.
- It is the kind of comfort that provides such a state of inner peace that we are no longer so burdened by our own insecurities that we judge, compete, or compare ourselves with others.
- It is the freedom of spirit that allows us to turn this love upward and outward, praising our God and showering love on our neighbors.
Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.” 1 Corinthians 1:31
P.S. Does this topic interest you? Get your free copy of “Defined by God Alone – A Dozen Ways to Raise Her Self Esteem” by clicking HERE!
- Mann, M. (2004). Self-esteem in a broad-spectrum approach for mental health promotion. Health Education Research, 19(4), 357-372. doi:10.1093/her/cyg041
- Macdonald, G. (1994) Self esteem and the promotion of mental health. In Trent, D. and Reed, C. (eds), Promotion of Mental Health. Avebury, Aldershot, vol. 3, pp. 19–20.
- Engelsma, D. J. (n.d.). Is Good Self-Esteem Important for a Christian, and How Is It Developed? Retrieved March 08, 2017, from http://www.prca.org/resources/publications/pamphlets/item/1569-is-good-self-esteem-important-for-a-christian-and-how-is-it-developed