Something Infinitely Better than Self-Esteem

It can creep into our classrooms and parenting in seemingly harmless ways. It’s often well-intentioned and, in the short-term at least, gives children a warm sense of well-being. It just feels right. What is it? Encouraging self-esteem. Consider how important, biblical truths can become skewed if we put the emphasis in the wrong place…

God loves ME. God made ME special. God hears ME when I pray. God takes care of ME.

This kind of “me” emphasis may make children feel good about themselves but it has a dark side, a dangerous, dark side because it dismisses and minimizes the true purpose for which we were created. Consider the first question and answer from the Westminster Catechism:

Q: What is the chief end of man?
A: The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy him forever.

Our children were not created to be focused on self-worth. Their chief end isn’t to view themselves more highly. God is not glorified if we teach children to make much of themselves. They were created to know, honor, and treasure their Creator most of all – giving Him the supreme worship He so rightly deserves. That alone is what will bring them everlasting joy. That is why it is so crucial to encourage life-giving God-esteem in our children.

Our aim is not to take a child’s low views of self and replace them with high views of self. Rather our aim is to take a child’s low views of God and replace them with high views of God.

 Our aim is not to take a child with little sense of worth and fill him with a great sense of worth.

 Rather our aim is to take a child who by nature makes himself the center of the universe and show him that he was made to put God at the center of the universe and get joy not from seeing his own tiny worth, but from knowing Christ who is of infinite worth.

(Sermon, “Predestined for Adoption to the Praise of His Glory,” ©2015 Desiring God Foundation, desiringGod.org)

Parents and teachers, the approach of Palm Sunday, Good Friday, and Easter is a wonderful time to direct children’s attention to the infinite worth of Christ. Spend time highlighting His many incomparable attributes: His perfect righteousness, steadfast love, mercy, and faithfulness in dying on the cross; and His almighty power, divine authority, victorious triumph, and exaltation as seen in His resurrection. In light of these glorious realities we can then give children a more biblical view of “self.” Here are seven basic points to emphasize:

  1. We have been created by God in His image and likeness(Genesis 1:26-27).
    Our worth is determined by God and is not self-derived.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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 trusting in Christ for salvation are we able to experience a “new self” as we are united with Him.
  7. “New self” in Christ is characterized by the following (and more!):
  • In Christ, I have the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit.
  • In Christ, I am a loved child of God, made holy and blameless by the gift of His grace.
  • In Christ, God has equipped me for doing good works He has prepared for me.
  • In Christ, I can do all things through His strength.
  • In Christ, I have fullness of joy and the promise of eternal life.
  • In Christ, I can glorify God forever!

In CHRIST … Esteeming Christ above all! How infinitely better than self-esteem! 

For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.(Romans 11:36)

Written by Jill Nelson

Jill Nelson

Jill Nelson is a wife, mother, grandmother, teacher, and author. She has taught Sunday School for over 20 years and writes God-centered curriculum for Truth78.

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