Not Self Esteem in Christianity

Building self-esteem is held in high regard in our culture. It is a common thought in our culture to value high self-esteem.  Before I became a Christian, I was constantly told to build my self-esteem.  I was told that self-esteem would help my “mental illness.”  The problem is that my esteem would be built up for several months, but then it would inevitably crash.  I would lose all confidence that I had in myself.  Building self-esteem just turned out to be a circular process for me.  I would build myself up and then I would crash.  It happened like this over and over.

When I became a Christian, I realized that self-esteem was not Biblical.  Although there are many reasons that I could discuss why it is not biblical, let me explain three simple reasons why self-esteem is not biblical.

The first reason that self-esteem is not biblical is that it disregards that as Christians, we are sinners.  The Bible tells us, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” (Romans 3: 23).  As Christians, we understand that we are a sinner.  From that point, we repent.  We die to self and live by the spirit.  Self-esteem elevates self, instead of repentance and faith in God.

Self-esteem is the opposite of dying to self.  Self-esteem is defined as “confidence in one’s own worth or abilities; self-respect,” (Oxford Dictionary).  As Christians, we must have faith in Jesus’ abilities, not our own.  Jesus makes us strong, just as he made Paul strong in the Bible.   The Bible says, “Therefore, I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproach, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake.  For when I am weak, then I am strong,” (2 Corinthians 12:10).  Paul didn’t have self-esteem.  He had Jesus.

The second reason that self-esteem is not Biblical is that it encourages pride.  As Christians, we are called to be humble.  In fact, the Bible says, “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble,” (James 4:6).  Yes, God resists the proud.  Could that be why I would build my self-esteem up and then it would crash over and over again? 

The third reason that self-esteem is not Biblical is that it is self-serving.  If you are caught up building your own self-esteem, are you able to serve others?  What is your focus?  Self-esteem is self-focused. As Christians, we are called to serve others.  We are the hands and feet of Jesus. 

As Christians, once we do fully repent, God does build us up.  He builds us up through his own power and truth.  He makes us stronger than we would be by ourselves.  This is because we rely on his power and not our own.  Could David have defeated Goliath through his own power?  David would have lost if he fought in his own power, regardless of his self-confidence level.  David relied on the Lord’s power and killed the giant.  As Christians, we must rely on the Lord to make us strong and powerful.