Yes, I'm a pastor's wife, but I suspect not all of my readers are Christian. I won't hold back on my beliefs, but I also won't shove religion at you. I try not to accept things just because they're told to me but read and research in order to make up my own mind. You'll find a random mix of stuff here, depending on what interests me at the moment. I like to read others' opinions, whether they agree with me or not, which means I love comments on my posts!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Dealing with Insecurity: Is High Self-Esteem the Cure?

I alluded briefly to this when I wrote of the conclusion of our Insecurity lessons for Sunday night Girls’ Club, but a few things I have read recently keep bringing it back to me.


I’ll use me as an example. I’m insecure about my looks, especially when I’m wearing my glasses. I’m thankful to have them so that I can see, but otherwise, I hate my glasses with a passion because of how they make me look. When a young woman who, I feel, is prettier comes around, my insecurity shows its ugly head. I sometimes become more introverted, with an irrational fear that no one will want to listen to me since I’m not as pretty as the other woman speaking.

Now let’s say I feel equal to or prettier than the other women around me. Can I be worry-free because my insecurities aren’t provoked? Nope. It’s false security. It’s a superiority complex. All it would take is one woman to walk in, and my false security would come crashing down. Feeling superior means I am judging someone else, I have put myself on a high pedestal, and I have transferred my insecurities on to someone else, as if I believe the other women around me should feel inferior like I do when someone prettier is there.  It’s messed up in so many ways.

In the study So Long Insecurity, author Beth Moore first brought this point to my attention: Superiority is not the same thing as security.

I originally wanted a title picture that demonstrated security and immediately thought of this one. How much more secure can you be than, as a grown man, allowing 2 young girls (who were strangers to him) paint his face however they wanted? Alas, simplicity won out in my decision, but this was one of the first endearing qualities my husband demonstrated when we met. But I digress...

Insecurity can be destructive when we allow it to control our actions, but superiority can be as much or even more damaging.

It can go by different names: superiority, pride, high self-esteem.
Wait. What? I thought high self-esteem was a good thing??  I’ve always heard high self-esteem be taught as a virtue, at home, in school, and even in church, but looking around, I can see the problems that arise from it.
Superiority, pride, and self-esteem all involve thinking highly of oneself. Romans 12:3 cautions against this: “I give each of you this warning: Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us.” (NLT) In other words, we’re not to judge ourselves by our abilities, wealth, appearance, or other material things, but to use another standard – to evaluate ourselves by our Christian character.

More than once, the Bible warns against pride and high self-esteem. Take Proverbs 11:2 for example – “Pride leads to disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.” Instead of placing a high value on ourselves, God’s word calls us to be humble. Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary says humility is simply “not thinking of yourself as better than other people.”
I see two big problems with thinking so highly of ourselves. First, we’re thinking only of ourselves, which is incredibly selfish and conceited. We can’t help others when we’re focused only on ourselves. Secondly, it sets us up to fall. The more highly we view ourselves, the harder the fall can be.
Pride (or high self-esteem, superiority, or whatever else you want to call it) is always on the defensive. If we place value on ourselves for anything that we feel is better than other people, such as wealth, possessions, appearances, or talents, then we’re constantly vulnerable to someone better coming along. If a basketball player prides himself on being the best, but a new player proves to be better, the pride is shattered. If an artist has high self-esteem because of her creative abilities, but a tragic accident mangles her hands so that she can no longer create, her esteem will be destroyed.
True security does not depend upon circumstances, abilities, or appearances. It does not matter who is around or how we compare to them. It is not fragile or defensive. True security shows up when we know, truly know, that we are children of the Almighty God and saved by His son Jesus. This God-given identity cannot be taken away from us no matter who comes along.
Rather than trying to raise self-esteem in ourselves, our kids, and each other, what if we centered our lives on God and focused on the needs of others? We can’t be self-absorbed when we’re helping others. As for God-centered lives, He calls us to be humble. Humility is not saying “I’m horrible at the piano” even if you’re a musical prodigy. It’s recognizing that your value is not tied to that particular talent, that others are gifted in different ways so you’re not the only gifted one, and just simply knowing that your talent does not make you better than anyone else. We’re all wonderfully made by God, and He loves each us with the same agape love.
Want to read more about biblically-based self-esteem? I recommend these links:
1-Minute Bible Love Notes - A series on the
Dangers of High Self-Esteem
GotQuestions.org - How Should a Christian View Self-Esteem?
It's not just in the Bible. Science Daily writes "high self-esteem is not always what it's cracked up to be."
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