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Worldly Self-Esteem vs. Confidence in Christ

Believe in Yourself?

“I don’t know what I should do. Maybe I’m just really awful at writing?” 

The girl sighed as she flopped down onto the sofa. 

“What are you talking about? You’re an amazing writer! You just need to have more self-esteem.” 

The girl arched her eyebrows at her friend, “What do you mean by self-esteem?” 

“Well,” her friend replied, sitting down on the sofa next to her, “You need to have more confidence in yourself. Believe in yourself!” 

The girl sighed and rested her head against the back of the sofa, “I guess you’re right.” 

The Popularity of “Self-Esteem”

This scene is not uncommon with many people (Christians included) when confronted with a situation where someone is feeling down, indecisive, reserved, and lacking a general confidence that is often sought after in the modern day ideology of “living your best life”. 

“Self-esteem” is a topic regularly mentioned, especially amongst young women of today’s society, and is something that I, and the other girls of this ministry, feel needs covering. We find it highly important to look at these things from a Biblical standpoint and I hope to both shed a little light on the topic and to encourage you personally. 

Before you continue, I must warn you that in this article I’m talking about spiritual, emotional, and mental strength. I want you all to realise that I mean I’m no way for you to feel like, physically, you are to view yourself as worthless. The same rules apply to viewing ourself physically as mentally- that we are given our bodies as a gift from God and that we are fearfully and wonderfully made in His eyes. We should accept who God made us to be. We should love and care for our bodies. We should appreciate the unique qualities God designed in our personalities.

What Is Self Esteem?

The first step to covering this topic is first figuring out what “self-esteem” actually means to the world. 

Collins English Dictionary defines it as, “Noun- Respect for or a favourable opinion of oneself”. 

Dictionary.com defines it as, “Noun- 1. A realistic respect for or favourable impression of oneself; self-respect 2. An inordinately or exaggeratedly favourable opinion of oneself” 

Oxford Dictionary of English defines the phrase as “Noun: Confidence in one’s own worth or abilities; self-respect” 

We see from the definitions that to have self-esteem is to have confidence in your own personal abilities and to have a good opinion of yourself.

This, however, is only the technical meaning of the word.  In our modern culture, self-esteem goes alongside phrases like, “believe in yourself”, “have more faith in your self-worth”, and, “love yourself”.  This isn’t just an ordinary love for self, but oftentimes, unbiblical self-obsession, or unhealthy-urging us to focus too much on ourselves.

It has become part of the modern propaganda that is forced down the throats of pretty much every teen in our culture. 

A Worldly View

Self-esteem, in the eyes of the world, is something of great importance and is essential to the lives of every teen/young adult. 

To the world, everything is possible if you just believe in yourself and in your own abilities. It believes it is an essential part of getting out there and living life. It’s something that should be treasured and sought after. To have more self-esteem is to have a mental energy boost and, with it, you can achieve anything because you are simply amazing as a person and your abilities are just brilliant. You need to be proud of yourself and your worth. 

Essentially, the world loves to seek self-esteem and loves to have self-esteem. It’s something that, if you have it, is the best thing possible to help you through life and to face every challenge as if it were nothing.

A Christian Perspective

Unfortunately, though, the reality of the situation is that self-esteem is not the answer to all the questions. 

First, having vain pride in your own abilities and strength  is not how the Lord wants us to view our lives. We are instructed multiple times in God’s word to be humble and are warned against pride (Prov. 29:23). We are taught that pride brings shame and destruction (Proverbs 11:12, Proverbs 16:18) , but humility brings honour and exaltation (1 Peter 5:6, James 4:10, Matthew 18:4). 

When we look within for help, advice, and wisdom, we find pride, worthlessness, sin, and foolishness (Mark 7:21-23). We are born sinners, destined for Hell and never having to be taught how to do wrong. There is not a single person in this world who is not headed for Hell, unless they have confessed their sins, trusted in God, and asked Him to save them. Even then, although we may be redeemed, we still have that sinful nature inside of us that we must battle to overcome, so whenever we look within for help find sin. 

When we try to find abilities that we alone have acquired, we search in vain because the various gifts we have are given to us by God (James 1:17). We are naturally weak and powerless- we cannot overcome anything we may face without the power God has blessed us with. Furthermore, we cannot do so with a true confidence if our confidence is not placed in God, but rather instead, placed on our own worth and abilities. 

It Is Better To Trust in God

We are told that “It’s better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man.” (Psalm 118:8). In this verse, the psalmist is talking about “man” as not just the gender known as “man” but the general term of “mankind”. You and I are mankind, and, while the main focus of this verse is that it’s better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in others, it also means “yourself”. I am part of mankind, thus it is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in myself. 

All esteem and glory should be placed on the Lord because He is the One who is all powerful and all power-providing. Everything that happens in this life is a part of His perfectly mapped out plan and He is willing to provide for you and me (Proverbs 14:26). If we trust in Him first, then all else will come, because God is a loving God and will provide all our needs, whether they be on earth or in Heaven (Matthew 6:33, Phillippians 4:19

Look To God For Confidence

Worldly self-esteem is a form of pride, and pride only results in fall (Proverbs 16:18) but humbling yourselves and finding your confidence in God leads to blessing, honour, and grace. (Luke 14:11, James 4:6)

Don’t look within for confidence, for we are imperfect- instead, look to God and seek to honour Him in everything you think, say, and do. Then, dear Roses, you shall gain all that you need to face this life head on, courageously fighting against the Devil with Christ as your Captain.

 

(Note from the editor: We want to remind you, Roses, that we should not believe ourselves to be worthless, or hate ourselves. We should recognize that we are flawed, and that we can have grace towards ourselves, because we are forgiven. We are not and never will be worthless. 

This article explores Beth’s view on how Christians should approach messages of “Just believe in yourself, and all your self-doubt will go away!” In the Christian life, there is a place for appreciation of who God made us to be. But self-esteem is often poorly disguised self-worship.

 For more on feeling worthless, please read You Are Not Worthless, Even If You Feel Wilted, and expect more encouragement for when you feel worthless from The Wilting Rose Project soon!)

Bethany Cordle

Beth is a sixteen-year-old Historical Fiction writer from the United Kingdom. She is the second oldest of ten children and is a pastor’s kid. She loves her quiet countryside life and couldn’t dream of living anywhere else.  She recognizes that she is not alone in her battles against the Devil and that there are many other young women out there who simply need a kind voice reassuring them of God’s love and power.  It’s her goal to be a reassuring voice saying, “Keep going- I’m here for you but, most importantly, God is here for you.”

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