Many years ago, Dr. Albert Mohler made the following observation:
The idea that self-esteem is an essential part of a healthy personality is now virtually institutionalized in American culture… The entire educational structure, especially at the elementary level, takes self-esteem as a basic imperative for the educational process.
Now, a team of researchers has taken a closer look at the idea that self-esteem is a crucial factor in personal happiness, achievement, and behavior. Their research conclusively destroys the self-esteem myth and demonstrates that the nation’s obsession with self-esteem was never based on science in the first place.
(“The Myth of Self-Esteem,” published February 8, 2005 at www.albertmohler.com)
The question for us is this: Has this myth also crept into our classrooms and homes? Has our philosophy of children’s ministry and the methods we use been shaped by the self-esteem movement? Or are we grounding ourselves and our children in a biblical understanding of “self”? As a starting point, here are a few basic biblical truths and implications to pass on to our children:
- We have been created by God in His image. (Genesis 1:26-27)
Our worth is determined by God and is not self-derived.
- We are totally dependent on God for everything. (Acts 17:25; 1 Corinthians 4:7b)
Any intelligence, talents, physical attributes, and abilities we have are ultimately from God.
- We have been created to glorify God. (1 Corinthians 10:31)
God is of infinite worth. We have not been created for self-admiration, but for worshipping God.
- We have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23)
By nature, we tend to put ourselves at the center of the universe instead of God. We tend to think more highly of ourselves than we ought.
- We deserve God’s condemnation. (Romans 6:23a).
This problem cannot be solved through any kind of self-improvement efforts, or by simply thinking positive thoughts about ourselves. We are helpless. Only God can solve the problem.
- Jesus died to save sinners from God’s condemnation so that we might have a “new self.” (Romans 5:6-8; 2 Corinthians 5:17)
Only through Christ can we rightly see and live in a way that glorifies God. Through Christ we experience a “new self” as we are united with Him.
- Our “new self” in Christ is characterized by the following:
• Jesus lives in me.
• I am a loved child of God.
• God has given me the righteousness of Jesus.
• God is for me.
• God has prepared good works for me to do.
• I can do all things through Christ’s strength.
• In Jesus, I can have fullness of joy.
(Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net)