"Is it biblical to promote high self-esteem for those in the body of Christ?"

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Aaron Blumer's picture

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Has some good points but although "self esteem" isn't a biblical concept, per se, it has a close relationship to conscience and guilt. Part of the way the conscience works is to make us feel ashamed of ourselves when we've violated it. And shame is not a whole lot different from low self-esteem. A clean conscience and sense of integrity is a deeper kind of self esteem... maybe self respect is a good term.

Further, given that we are all stewards of our bodies, talents, minds, energy, etc. for the glory of God, there is harm in thinking of ourselves as worthless. It leads to poor stewardship. We are "fearfully and wonderfully made" and for eternally important purposes.

So... "self esteem" is a good thing when it's rooted in reality and truth. It's a bad thing when it's just a lot of hot air.

Joeb's picture

No one could have put it better.  Aaron. Good Job.  

Phil Siefkes's picture

By way of observation, people who wrestle with the self-esteem are often self-oriented or self-focused to begin with. The NT consistently reminds us to shift the focus from self to God and others. Whether we are negatively or positively self-focused doesn't matter a great deal. Self-orientation displays itself in a variety of detrimental ways.

Discipling God's image-bearers to the glory of God.

TylerR's picture

Editor

I agree with Bro. Siefkes. The whole issue of "self-esteem" is framed wrong to begin with.

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

I'm not clear on what the framing actually is.

"Psychology" doesn't really have an agreed-upon opinion on the subject... and it certainly doesn't agree that self actualization is the way of salvation. It isn't really interested in salvation at all because it doesn't have the tools to answer those questions.

TylerR's picture

Editor

I mean that the question is all wrong. You shouldn't "feel good about yourself," because your identity is not in "who I am." Your identity is that you're made in God's image, and called to give worship and allegiance to Him, through repentance and faith in Jesus. The entire approach is framed incorrectly, as if "self-esteem" is a valid construct. It's "me-centered."

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Does the Bible say we should feel bad about ourselves?

Here's where I'm coming from: Humans are going to feel something about themselves. Whatever they feel is "me centered," just like thinking about work is work centered, thinking about church is church centered, and thinking about driving is traffic centered. Why is "me" a taboo subject?

 If their conscience is condemning them, they'll feel bad. If they're conscience is approving of their choices, they'll feel better.

Scripture encourages us to think about ourselves -- but to do it truthfully.

1 Ti 4:16 16 Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you.

Ps 26:1 1 Vindicate me, O Lord, For I have walked in my integrity. I have also trusted in the Lord; I shall not slip.

Ps 19:12 12 Who can understand his errors? Cleanse me from secret faults.

I'm not advocating putting self-gratification above stewardship, responsibility, and service. But the psychological concept of self-esteem isn't about that either. There's a lot of straw-manning on that topic in conservative circles, though I'll grant that the concept often turns into "just do what makes you happy" in the popular media/entertainment.

But ideas are always dumbed down and distorted in the popular media. Sure as death and taxes.

Phil Siefkes's picture

Aaron, the opposite of self-esteem is not self-loathing. It is a matter of orientation and allegiance. Self-hatred is still self-oriented, just as is pride and arrogance. Self-denial may come in many forms, some righteous and holy and some that are self-oriented. Self-denial for the glory of God is what we are called to as we know, which brings joy to our souls because it brings pleasure to the Father.

Discipling God's image-bearers to the glory of God.

Steve Newman's picture

The fact that so many in the body of Christ are discussing self shows an unhealthy fixation with self. If we can get to where our selves are not an issue - with contentment, peace, and joy - then we are free to be selfless. The opposite of self-esteem would be more like self-denial or self-disregard, it seems to me. But the focus on self seems to particularly turn the focus away from the Lord. Consider Is. 53:4 and Philippians 2, where the mind of Christ seems to show an emphasis on the Lord and others predominantly.