Self-Esteem: The Big Fat Lie

Screen Shot 2018-01-16 at 8.25.49 PMBy Lori Beard

Self-esteem=big fat lie.  Do you want to know the truth?  You have not been getting it from the psychology world or the secular counseling world for a very long time.  In fact, I think we have never heard the truth from those worlds at all in the matter of self-esteem.  We have, instead, as Christians, been buying into a lie that is eating into the fabric of who we really are and what our worth really is.

To be quite honest, I am sick of that lie.  I am sick of women being deceived by it.  I am sick of women teaching it to others.  I am sick of the church buying the lie of self-esteem.  I am just fed up.  So, if this sounds a little angry, well know this: I am pretty mad on behalf of Christ and His church.  So, here is the truth.

Self-esteem means to think highly of oneself.  Yeah, just let that set in for a minute or two.  Is it sitting?  Well, it should have sunk into the minds and hearts of Christians by now I think.  To think highly of oneself is ridiculous because there is nothing about ourselves to think highly of.  Now, if you have bought the lie the culture preaches daily on TV, in magazines, and over the internet, well, you are probably starting to either get indignant with me or to drop your head in despair.  Both reactions are totally normal because it is hard to let go of something we have based our lives and values around and taught our children from day one.  So, I am okay if you are angry or despaired.  Just keep reading a bit to gain some real truth and hope.

A normal response in our culture is to think highly of oneself and to teach one’s children to do the same.  It is everywhere we look.  TV promises beauty every day as soon as you get up.  When is the last time you saw an ugly actress or one who did not fit the Hollywood mold?  Magazines have pics of women doing it all and doing it in the biggest style.  And we are saturated in stories of how important and powerful women are.

This teaching is frayed for many reasons, but the main one is that the Bible does not teach this at all.  In fact, in Philippians 2, it teaches the exact opposite.  It says we are lowly and should recognize that about ourselves and take on the form of a servant to look and act like Jesus.  Try that curriculum out in any school or child environment anywhere.  It is a sure way to get yourself fired, or worse, shot and killed.  Teach our kids to be servants?  I think not. They are way too good for that. They are gonna be great and ahead of the game and achieve greatness on all kinds of levels.  This is what we are told to tell them when we raise them.  This is what we are told will cause them to feel good about themselves.

Oh poppycock!  What happens to their esteem when they do not do great things?  When they just achieve mediocre things?  What happens when they screw up and get divorced or have a car accident that kills somebody?  How does that teaching stand them in good stead?  They certainly have not lived up to the things they have been taught should give them reason to feel good about themselves.  In fact, they now know they are losers doing loser things.  What about the woman who marries a man she loves in good faith only to be beaten and abused by him?  What about the little girl who has been told those things and then gets hurt by the guy next door?  What about those women?  What about the lady who gets burned really badly and lives with a scarred face for the rest of her life?  What about the little girl who is overweight all through school and bullied because of it?  How does any of the teaching about self esteem help these people?

It sounds pretty. It sounds so good. It sounds so righteous but it is bogus.  It leads us into hurt and wound and confusion.  It leaves us feeling inadequate and always like we have to play catch up.  Esteem based on performance is bound to disappoint.

Why can’t we, as Christian parents, just teach the truth of the Gospel?  We have worth because we were created by God. We were created in his image.  We are priceless to Him.  Our worth has nothing whatsoever to do with us.  It does not depend on our looks or our achievements.  It does not depend on our abilities, talents, or gifts.  They can all be lost.  Our worth is grounded in God as our Creator and Redeemer.  It is solely based in Christ.  He was wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities.  How much more worth does one need than that?

We need to quit scrambling.  We need to quit begging for approval.  We need to quit depending on the opinions of others for worth.  The sweet truth of God’s Word is enough.  His truth is that we are so worthy because of Jesus.  He is our center.  He is our truth.  He gives all of his creation worth.  We can rest now.  We can live at peace with all of our messiness, all of our hurts, all our failures and all our wrongs.  Jesus is our worth and He is perfect.

“For in Christ Jesus, you are all sons of God through faith” (Galatians 3:26).

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