We all have a tendency to get our self-worth from the things we do. When I became a stay-at-home-mom, it was really hard. Having maintained a paying job since I was about 14 years old (not counting babysitting even earlier), I discovered that a large portion of my self-esteem had come from my job. I was a little lost.
God took me to a place where I dove into His Word and found that my value came from who He said I was not from my ability to excel at a job or from the money I earned. I found that He was much more interested in my BEING than my DOING. It was scary to think that so much of what I had been doing was going to burn up like the wood, hay, and stubble in 1 Corinthians 3:12 because a lot of it was done in my own power for my own glory and self-esteem. When I started understanding that working on being who God wanted me to be was much more important to Him, then the things I did started flowing out of obedience and a desire to bring Him glory.
Low self-esteem is a trap. It’s one of the most insidious forms of pride in which modern Christians indulge. This may seem like a shocking statement considering that destructive, self-harming behaviors are so prevalent in our society. In those cases there are deeper issues going on than self-esteem. Low self-esteem and pride may seem like they belong to different families, but they are actually kissing cousins.
Think about someone you know whom you would consider as having low self-esteem. What are some of the things that characterize their words and thoughts? “No one likes me.” “I can’t do anything right.” “I am a loser.” “No one spoke to me at church today.” “No one loves me.” “I’m not worthy.” Do you see the repeated words “I” and “me?” The focus is completely on self.
When we shift our focus from ourselves to the One on whom the focus should really be – God – then it changes our perceptions. No one likes me? That’s okay! God loves me and I’m going to love others because that’s what He calls me to do. I can’t do anything right? Well, I can’t do everything right, but I’ll rely on God to help me and I’ll do my best for His glory. I am a loser? Nope! I am an overcomer through Christ. No one spoke to me at church today? Let’s see… to whom does God want me to minister today by speaking to them and maybe even giving them a much-needed hug? No one loves me? The God of the Universe died a cruel, painful death to purchase my redemption out of His great love for me. I’m not worthy? According to the Bible, God cares for and provides for the birds of the air, and He says I am even more valuable than they.
See how that works? We have to stop analyzing everything in light of ourselves and start seeing ourselves the way God sees us. We need to have God-esteem and then self-esteem becomes irrelevant. When we see ourselves as Christ sees us, we cannot hate ourselves nor can we over-esteem ourselves. It is only when we have the same view of ourselves that God has that we can begin to let go of prideful self-absorption. We can be confident and assured because our confidence and assurance come from the truth of God’s Word and not the lies we believe.
Where do you get your sense of worth? From your job? Your education? Your bank account? Your looks? Your talent? None of those things has anything to do with your true value. Focusing on your accomplishments gives a false sense of self-esteem. After all, you know how fallible you are, how quickly and how often you fail. Building self-esteem on a foundation of personal achievements will quickly crumble when you make a mistake, don’t get the job, gain weight, or someone else with bigger and better accomplishments comes along.
We have to change our focus. We have to go from being me-centric to being God-centric. We must stop focusing on ME and start focusing on HIM. Seeing ourselves the way God sees us and making everything about Him instead of about ourselves results in a healthy, humble, and whole person fit for His service.