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.

My Vanity Fast Part 3: THE CHALLENGE

In Part 1 and Part 2 we talked about what beauty is not, so let’s talk about what beauty is.

Beauty is an older woman at church who is struggling with a family that is falling apart. Even through the tears, she is praising her God because His is good.

Beauty is a woman who stays in a lifeless and loveless marriage to honor the promise she made before God.

Beauty is a woman who stays home with her kids to raise them. She is lonely. She feels like sacrificing her career has caused her to fall behind in the world. But, she loves her God and trusts the good work He is doing in her and in her kids.

There is such beauty in a woman who is willing to suffer for her God.

Beauty is  a woman who struggles with poverty working multiple jobs to support herself and her kids. She works tirelessly and has very little for herself. Yet, she loves and praises her God, and strives to live a righteous life. Her hope is found in Christ.

Beauty is a friend who was a missionary for seven years. Despite loneliness and isolation when she comes off the field, she is still trusting the Lord, and she is ready to be ‘sent out’ once again.

Beauty is a woman who is so in love with the poor people of Africa that she considers that home instead of her home in this country, and those children like her own kids.

Beauty is a woman who is willing to let God break her heart for what breaks His.

Beauty is any woman who loves God who is messy, sinful, wretched, and occasionally veers off the narrow path. But she gets back on the path and praises her Heavenly Father who saved her.

What does God say about beauty?

Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.   1 Peter 3:3-4

God’s standard for beauty is a gentle and quiet spirit. One who is desperately pursuing righteousness in Jesus Christ.

I know that I can never live up to being a Proverbs 31 woman. To be honest, it is among my least favorite scriptures in the Bible. I am messy. I am wretched. And I am strong willed.

I often feel as though I am striving, but never reaching that high bar.

But I know I’m OK. As long as my eyes are on Him. As long as Jesus is my Lord. And, as long as I couple action with my faith, God will be glorified through me.


So, how can you learn to love yourself regardless of what you see in the mirror? I can’t answer that question for you. The best I can tell you is this,

The most beautiful thing that you, or I, could see in the mirror is JESUS.

True beauty is found in Jesus Christ. Such immense love cannot help but being stunningly beautiful. And, if we mirror the image of Christ, we will be stunningly beautiful too.

The Vanity Fast Challenge

If you are like me and have blurred the lines of beauty and identity, it’s time to bring things back into focus. And with focus comes freedom.

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.   Galatians 5:1

I challenge you to try a vanity fast, and I pray that God uses it to show you truth. Whether it is one week, one month, or one year is up to you. What could it hurt? Why not step out of your comfort zone and see what is on the other side? It just might be freedom.

Will a vanity fast be an instant cure? Probably not. Anything worth having takes work and happens in God’s timing. And, if you are anything like me, you are a slow learner!

I would like to say after five weeks of my vanity fast that the ties of beauty and identity have been completely severed. I’m fixed . . . . HALLELUUUUIAH! But, I’m not. Let’s just say I am one of God’s tougher cases!

But that is OK with me. Because I am tirelessly working toward truth, the freedom God has for me, and becoming more like Him. And, I am beginning to see the light of victory at the end of the tunnel.


Read Part 1 here

Read Part 2 here