How Important Is Self Esteem?

A few years ago, my daughter went on a junior high retreat. When she got home, I asked her what they talked about in their large group sessions. The only thing that she could remember was self esteem.

Self esteem has been a hot topic since I was a teenager in the ‘80s. Anywhere there is a gathering of kids or youth, this seems to be a hot topic.

I have always been a people pleaser. Humility is a natural thing for me almost more than pride is . . . almost.

Am I always humble? Absolutely not. I will always struggle with pride, with wanting what I want, and being selfish. I am human.

However, I had many challenges in childhood that caused me to think less of myself, or have “low self esteem.” Is this a curse? Or is this a gift?

Is it possible that I am capable of more humility than most people because I started out with such a low image of myself? If that is the case, then thank you God for low self esteem!

Because of my humble beginnings, I have been open to seeing how enormous God is. I didn’t have to “get over myself” quite as much when elevating God in my life. I was never as much about myself to begin with. And God has been showing me my great worth in Him and because of Him.

God has not built me up through the years, He has been revealing more of Himself to me. I no longer care how small I may be. He is great and mighty and that gives my soul peace and freedom. Yes, I still believe that I am wretched, but I have been redeemed by an almighty God.

Self-confidence, popularly conceived is not a virtue. It is a vice. It has at its root pride. —Paul Gould

We must teach our kids to highly esteem God, not themselves. That is what God asks of all of us. He asks us to be a servant to all. Just as Christ was.

He made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross! Philippians 2:7-8 (NIV)

While self esteem focuses inward, God teaches us to focus outward and upward.

Those on the self-confidence bandwagon are placing their identity in the wrong thing! We ought not to be so confident in the self.  —Paul Gould

Are we teaching our kids to love themselves? Do we realize that God’s Word teaches the exact opposite?

Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. John 12:25

Teaching our kids to love themselves contradicts the Word of God. And it can lead to pride.

Instead of teaching kids that they should think highly of themselves, we should teach them about the greatness of our God. Instead of focusing on praising our kids, we need to focus on glorifying God who above everything and everyone. What if we taught our kids not to focus on themselves, but on the surpassing worth of knowing Jesus Christ?

All the things I once thought were so important are gone from my life. Compared to the high privilege of knowing Christ Jesus as my Master, firsthand, everything I once thought I had going for me is insignificant—dog dung. I’ve dumped it all in the trash so that I could embrace Christ and be embraced by him. Philippians 3:8-9 (The Message)

If we taught kids mainly about God’s worth and the joy of knowing Him instead of loving themselves, the emotional health of future generations would greatly improve.

So, I am not going to teach my kids to love themselves, or worry about their “self esteem.” I am not going to go over the top with praise, or continuously feed their egos. I am going to teach them the surpassing worth of knowing Jesus Christ. And that because of Him, they have great worth as God’s beloved children.

Our kids’ worth should come from being sons and daughters of the King. And their worth should come from knowing that God loves them so much that He sent His Son to die for each one of them.

Is Your Faith Contagious? 3 Things Teenagers Need To See In Their Parents

On a mission, I grabbed the Clorox wipes and hurried to the kitchen. All I could see was a teeming cesspool of germs. My daughter had just gotten over the flu and strep. So, I wiped down the refrigerator handles, the microwave, the faucets, door handles, and the knobs on the stove.

It has been a rough winter in our household. We have all been sick a lot. Thank goodness for the MinuteClinic! In-out-on antibiotics-and back to bed! And just my style . . . . no doctors!

Just like those pesky germs, our character, who we are, is likely to be contagious. Contagious to those around us, and contagious to our kids.

Think about it, have you ever caught yourself mimicking things your parents said or did during your childhood? We all have.

Our character is contagious. And if we are living a life in obedience to Christ, our faith will be contagious as well.

We, as Christian parents, are the first step in the equation of our kids’ faith. Whether our kids develop a personal, and passionate faith, or a casual, watered down faith, depends a great deal on the faith and character of Mom and Dad.

We are told that if we live by the Spirit we will bear fruit.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.  Galatians 5:22–23

If we long to reflect the image of Jesus in front of our kids, all of these characteristics should be our goal. However, there are three overarching themes in the character of Christ, under which everything else falls.

There are three characteristics of Christ that teenagers need to see in their parents to make following Him irresistible.

They must see . . .

1) Love

Kids must see their parents being people that love much. Love God, love their kids, and love others.

If someone asked you if you loved God, you would probably say, yes. We all would. But what does it really mean to love God? Love is not a feeling or a fact. As DC Talk sang back in the ‘90s, “Luv is a Verb.”

As disciples of Christ, we must actively, willfully, deliberately, intentionally, and fully love God and His Son, Jesus Christ above all else.

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. Mark 12:30-31

Michael Smalley posed this question during the sermon he gave at our church this Sunday. “What was Jesus’ love language?”

We all know the love languages from Gary Chapman’s 1995 book, The Five Love Languages.

  1. receiving gifts
  2. quality time
  3. words of affirmation
  4. acts of service
  5. physical touch

“What was Jesus’ love language?” I repeated in my head. I figured it was a trick question. All of them?

Michael went on to say that Jesus’ love language was obedience. Of course!

“If you love me, obey my commandments . . . Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me.”  John 14:15,21

Our kids will see that we love Jesus if we are obeying his commands. It’s that simple.

Our kids will also see if we are a people who “love much” based on how we love them. We must be continually pouring love into them.

And, this one will seal the deal on what our kids think about us. Our kids must see us love others. Are we loving our neighbors? Are we loving difficult people? Are we loving our enemies?

2) Humility

The strongest defining characteristic of Jesus after love, was humility. No one has ever been higher or more worthy of praise that walked this earth than Jesus Christ. And no one has ever been more humble.

I have often thought that if I found out someday that Christianity wasn’t true, following Jesus would still have been the right way to live. Because of the call to humility.

When we put ourselves below others, they are lifted up. If we all lived like Jesus, we would be loving others and lifting each other up. Talk about an ideal society!

If you want your kids to have faith in Christ, there is nothing that can make Him more attractive than a display of humility in you.

3) Surrender

Many Christian kids growing up in the church never experience parents who surrender their lives to Christ. No wonder they are walking away.

If we don’t follow Christ with reckless abandon, then we might as well forget about passing on our faith at all. Why would we want to anyway? If we are not seeking to surrender our lives to Christ, then, He must not be that important to us. At least not important enough to do what He says.

If we want to show our kids a loving, good God, then we must surrender to Him first.

Love first, humility second, and surrender third. These are the ingredients that make our faith contagious.

It might be time to take inventory. As Christian parents, we must look in the mirror from time to time. Am I a loving person? Do I put other’s first? And, have I given everything I have and everything I am to God?

If you are brave enough, ask your kids what they see in you. You might be surprised by what they say.