By now, everyone knows what self-esteem is. It has become a central part of our vocabulary and teaching practices.
But, for a quick review: Self-esteem is an individual's subjective evaluation of their own worth.
We worry about our own self-esteem, and we worry about our kids’ self-esteem.
We are continually encouraged to help ourselves and others develop high self-esteem and overcome low self-esteem.
There are three things you need to know about self-esteem up front.
- Self-esteem is a psychological concept introduced in the 1960s, and it has steadily gained acceptance in society.
- Self-esteem is situational, meaning it can change according to various life situations.
- When self becomes the sole focus, it morphs into a misguided concept.
Where Do You Find Your Worth?
The most basic definition of self-esteem relates to one’s understanding of his or her own worth.
Unfortunately, humans have a hard time establishing our worth when we fail to view ourselves through the lens of our Creator.
For example, how is your view of yourself shaped?
Is your worth shaped by how the world sees you?
Is your worth defined by how many “likes” you get or how many followers you have on social media?
With the rise of social media, there are numerous studies on its effects on self-esteem. One study found 60% of people using social media reported that it has impacted their self-esteem in a negative way.
When you place your value in other’s people’s hands, it is no wonder your self-esteem is situational and changes constantly.
Feelings are fleeting; but if your self-esteem is based on feelings, you’ve got a lingering problem.
Opinion Versus Fact
Kari Kampakis explains to Bible Gateway, “The power to dictate their worth based on the fleeting opinions of people rather than the timeless truths of God” is when problems arise.
She continues, “What other people say about you is opinion. What God says about you is fact. The way to know your worth is to focus on the facts.”
Instead of focusing on other’s opinions, we can turn to the Word of God to see what He says about us. We are loved, we are forgiven, we are cared for, we are made in His image, and on and on.
The Problem with Self-Esteem
However, there is a fundamental problem with self-esteem. The key word is “self.”
By focusing so intently on ourselves, we turn inward instead of outward.
Even those who are not Christians understand the danger of focusing on yourself more than others.
For instance, Psych Central explains, “Yes, you can have too much self-esteem.”
Self-esteem becomes a problem “When you [fail to] realize that there are other people to consider as you go about your day. Note that none of these [self-esteem] catchphrases say anything about ‘we,’ ‘us,’ or ‘others.’”
Why It is a Bigger Problem for Those Who Follow Christ
But, for those who call themselves Christians, self-esteem becomes a bigger problem. Jesus told his followers:
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
– Matthew 22:37-39
If we are focusing on loving ourselves, then we are not focused on loving God and our neighbors. We put our needs ahead of God and others.
Furthermore, if I esteem me, I don’t esteem Christ. We don’t need more self-esteem; we need more Christ-esteem.
Moreover, we’re supposed to deny self, not uplift self. We are to lift up Jesus.
“Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?”
– Matthew 16:24-26
The Cure for Low Self-Esteem is NOT Loving Yourself More
If you Google how to cure low self-esteem, you will find plenty of “cures.”
Unfortunately, most of these cures are self-focused. This is not the solution; it’s part of the problem.
If you want to “cure” your low self-esteem, then the real cure is to think about yourself less. Instead, shift your focus to God and others.
Look for opportunities to uplift and serve others.
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”
– Philippians 2:3-4
Instead of looking for ways to lift yourself up, humble yourself and boast in Christ!
It is only through recognizing our need for a Savior that we can understand our worth is found solely in Him.
When we understand what Christ did for us on the cross, we have far more than enough reason to esteem Him.