What to do About Low Self-Esteem
Author: Tammie Burak
Publish date:
Summary: Are you concerned about low self-esteem and its effects? Perhaps you think you or someone you care about is suffering from low self-esteem. You will find helpful information here.
 
 

Are you concerned about low self-esteem and its effects? Perhaps you think you or someone you care about is suffering from low self-esteem. You will find helpful information here.

However, you might be surprised to know that self-esteem is not a Biblical concept. Understanding how current ideas about self-esteem developed and how the teachings of the self-esteem movement have influenced our society will help you escape the “low self-esteem” trap.

The Beginning of Modern Ideas about Self-Esteem.

Sharealike Gisela Giardino on Flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/gi/4433501794/

Our modern concept of self-esteem had its beginnings in the late 1800s when physician William James began writing about it. Dr. James believed that people with high self-esteem were happier and more successful than those with low self-esteem. He believed that a person’s self-esteem was based upon how close he or she came to successfully accomplishing personal aims and goals. But where did he get his ideas about self-esteem? Were his teachings Biblical?

William James’ teachings were not based on Bible truths. One writer said William James’ “position was one of doubt and skepticism and his writings were part of psychology's general undermining of religious faith.”i Rather than seeking to know God, James substituted mystical experiences for Biblical spirituality.

His interest in mystical experiences led him to experiment with a variety of mind-altering drugs. In addition, he was the first president of the American branch of the Society for Psychical Research, a society dedicated to understanding psychic and paranormal activities. Such activities are condemned by God in 1 Samuel 15:23.

Since William James first wrote about self-esteem, the topic has been studied and written about extensively by psychologists, educators and even church leaders. John Dewey, Abraham Maslow, Nathaniel Branden and others have influenced popular ideas about self-esteem and have impacted current practices in child rearing and education. In other words, what these people taught has had such an impact on society that it has influenced how we raise our children and what we teach them about how to view themselves and others. A quick study of who these very influential people are and what they teach, however, should raise red flags in the minds of honest Christians. Humanists, atheists, and New Age philosophers are the leaders of the self-esteem movement.

Self-Esteem Defined

Popular ideas about self-esteem are reflected in modern definitions of the word. For instance, the Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines self-esteem as “a confidence and satisfaction in oneself”ii and lists as synonyms words like ego, pride and self-respect. We are taught that people with high self-esteem are assertive, confident and resilient, while people with low self-esteem are anxious, depressed and unsuccessful in life and relationships.

Low self-esteem has been blamed for a wide range of societal woes including poor test scores in school, drug and alcohol abuse, and criminal behaviour. For decades, childcare workers have been striving to build self-esteem through praise and self-esteem building exercises.iii Thousands of books have been written and programs developed to help people—especially children—build self-esteem.

Boosting self-esteem through these typical interventions may be only temporarily successful. Of course, the reason for this failure is that the self-esteem movement is built on a faulty foundation. The problem is that God is not part of the picture. Instead, self is made the center. Popular methods of building self-esteem are based upon changing your view of yourself. And you can’t hide the truth about yourself from yourself for long.

Ellen White, a 19th-century Christian writer who recognized psychology’s flaws, got it right when she wrote this:

The true principles of psychology are found in the Holy Scriptures. Man knows not his own value. He acts according to his unconverted temperament of character because he does not look unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of his faith. He who comes to Jesus, he who believes on Him and makes Him his Example, realizes the meaning of the words To them gave He power to become the sons of God (MS 121, 1902. ML 176.)

The only solution to feeling badly about yourself is to look to your Creator. The Bible assures you that God, who knows you even better than you know yourself, loves you. He loves you even though He knows everything about you. But His love for you goes deeper than just accepting you the way you are. God provides every necessary resource for moving you from where you are, to become what He created you to be. Jesus promises in Revelation 21:7, “He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.”

Contrary to what you may have heard, low self-esteem is not the issue behind the plethora of societal ills that we face today. Living a life apart from God is. And while religion has been blamed for the burden of guilt and shame that humanity bears, the Bible actually tells quite a different story. Read the articles below to learn more:

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Self-Esteem Versus Self-Worth: A Biblical Perspective
Is our value based on achievement and beauty, or is there more to the story?
Biblical Principles for Developing a Healthy Self-Worth
In light of the fact that we are precious to God, it’s no wonder that when self-esteem techniques dismiss God as part of the solution, they do not produce lasting results.

 


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