Self (esteem)(confidence)(aggrandizement)(centered). . . . .

Note:  I’m bumping this up to the top because the topic keeps coming up.  I first published this on February 22 of this year. You can scroll back in the archives to March 1 for the second post on self-esteem.)

Remember this little ditty?

I love myself. I think I’m grand.

When I go to movies, I hold my hand.

I put my arm around my waist,

And when I get fresh, I slap my face

And this: I am the greatest I am the greatest, I said that even before I knew I was

Which of the four words in parentheses in the title would you choose as an attractive trait? An acceptable  attitude toward life?  As being biblically sound?

Let’s take a look.  I can think of only one verse in the Bible in which the words self and esteem both appear, either in its hyphenated form (self-esteem) or separately. Philippians 2:3. “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than  themselves.”  This directive is certainly  the opposite of what we are taught by the purple dinosaur or even the very kindly Mr. Rodgers.  The philosophy there is that we are wonderful just the way we are; that we don’t need to change a thing, and we deserve to be loved by one and all. The unavoidable outcome of self-esteem is that we have no concept of humility, of putting others before ourselves.  Instead, we grow up believing we are the best and should always be first.

Talk to CEO’s of large companies; ask them what kinds of application letters they get from newly minted professional graduates.  You will find that 21-year-old grads these days are letting their prospective employers know that the company would be privileged if the newbie condescended to come on board, and that they were waiting to negotiate with said company for the pay level,  benefits, and corner office on the top floor that was their proper due.

No, self-esteem isn’t an especially good concept. Obviously, neither are self-aggrandizement  nor self-centeredness.  Self-aggrandizement?  What is that?  Simple.  “It’s all about ME, all the time!  I am the most important; everyone loves me and approves of me and I will make sure to tell you so; everything I do should make the front page of the New York Time and be reported on all the major news programs. I am the best, the greatest, the most wonderfully gifted person you’ll ever have the privilege to meet.”

Would you like to go do lunch with that person?  No, I didn’t think so. He really just needs to get over himself.

We all know people who are self-centered.  They usually aren’t very happy, because no one else seems to recognize how special they are.

We are left, then with self-confidence.  Attractive?  You bet. Good attitude toward life?  Indeed.  Biblically sound?  Absolutely.  But what’s the difference between that and self-esteem?

If you look at the words themselves, there really isn’t a lot of difference.  But if you examine how self-esteem has been presented; if you look at the deterioration of morality, honesty, just plain godliness in our society, you will begin to understand how damaging it has been.

Along with the proliferation of self-esteem manuals, self-help books, classes, etc., there has also been a proliferation of a turning away from standards of moral behavior taught in the Bible.  Why? Well, they go together.  Self-esteem teaches us that we are wonderful and have no need of improvement.  If that is so, then nothing is really forbidden to me if I want it. Because self-esteem creates an attitude of entitlement, nothing can be kept from me that I want. So if I want, for instance, to live with my boyfriend/girlfriend without benefit of marriage, there’s really nothing wrong with that because I want it, so it’s okay. People who think it’s wrong are just stuck in old-fashioned standards that don’t apply to me. They need to mind their own business.

If a grandfather  wants to use his three-year-old granddaughter for his own sexual satisfaction, who is to say it’s sinful?  Who is to say it’s wrong?  He wants it, and he should have it.  He’s wonderful just the way he is.  And if, in the process, he creates appetites in the child that would not normally be there until much later in her life, well, that’s okay too.

I once read a case history in which a father stated that it was his right and his privilege to introduce his daughters to sex and sexuality.

That kind of thinking comes not only from a sinful heart, but from having way too much self-esteem ,  However, in a society  that holds each person’s desires to be right for him, there really is no such thing as sin.  Poor choices, maybe, if it hurts someone else, but not sin.  After all, no one else has any right to judge me.

Okay.  Ranting. Back to business.

Self-confidence is biblically acceptable?  Sure.  Let me give you some examples.

Philippian 4:13.”I can do all things through Christ, which strengtheneth me.”

Psalm 139:14. “I will praise Thee: for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are Thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.”

Ephesians 2:10. “For we are His workmanship (masterpiece, work of art; poema,in the Greek), created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”

I could go on and on, but you can see clearly here that we are not to think poorly of ourselves.  In fact, when Jesus says that the second greatest commandment is to love others as we love ourselves, it is implicit that He knows it is our nature to take pretty good care of ourselves. In Ephesians 5, men are told to love their wives as they love their own bodies, nourishing and caring for their wives as tenderly as they care for themselves. No lack of self-esteem there!

Well.  I just scrolled back up to the top and realized how long this has become. Can you tell that it’s a real soapbox issue with me?

More next week.

9 thoughts on “Self (esteem)(confidence)(aggrandizement)(centered). . . . .

  1. Linda, I have had more than my fill of those students who think only of themselves, and worse, the parents and grandparents that promote it. The grades they receive more than prove that they think more highly of themselves than they ought to because they should be doing their homework and not admiring themselves or thinking the know it all. Thank you for promoting the Biblical view. I shared this on fb for that reason too.

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  2. Here here! I couldn’t agree more! Self-centered-ness is an epidemic! All the self-esteem brainwashing along with the advent of social media has been the perfect storm to create a population of self-absorbed, self-serving, narcissists. The trouble is they are each so busy admiring themselves, they don’t have time to admire all the other people who they think should be admiring them because they too are too busy admiring themselves as well. HA! Oh where will it all lead I wonder? (And I got a kick out of that poem too. I had never read it before!)

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    1. I’m out of step with a lot of other therapists on this issue. That’s probably because I see it from a biblical perspective rather than a secular humanist perspective. The trouble most of us have with self-esteem is that we have way too much! Bloated 🙂

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      1. That’s interesting that most of us have too much self-esteem. As a therapist, I’ll bet you see a lot of good example of that! So I take it that most therapists feel people need more self esteem? I’ve always heard that people who think they are hot stuff are deeply insecure. Is that the secular humanist perspective I wonder?

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  3. In a way, it is. Secular humanism basically deifies man and humanizes God. Man is more than sufficient, in his own power, and doesn’t really need any higher power than he already is capable of achieving. If you follow that logic, then we really are gods, and we come packed with loads of self-esteem!

    And yes, the philosophy that has been pushed for decades is that if people just felt better about themselves, all the crime, drugs, violence, teen drinking, teen sex, etc. would go away. So–how’s that been workin’ for us? Not terribly well. That’s because, with inflated self-esteem comes an inflated sense of entitlement: If I want it, I should have it. If I have to take yours, too bad. Suck it up. I have a right to have what I want.

    SOME people who think they are hot stuff can be insecure, but the two things are really paradoxical, aren’t they? I’ve met plenty of hot stuff-types who really believe it 🙂

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  4. Yes I remember that little ditty. I learned it when I was young and my kids laughed their heads off when I taught it to them. I’m not like others in many ways. I have always liked people with a good sense of self. The obnoxious ones, I could tell deep in side really didn’t like themselves at all but were trying desperately to make others believe they were better than they thought that they were. I sort of felt sorry for them. I always wondered why I never felt very sorry for myself my entire life, that was filled with strife and abuse, etc. Others I knew would have pity parties and I just couldn’t get into one. I’ve always been the type that I just go on and do my best each day and the days turned into years. That may be why I have never had problems with addictions and the like. I always loved Jesus from a child, but didn’t really give myself over to Him til I was almost 50. I didn’t hesitate because I was too busy “sinning” but thought all religion was very distasteful for small minds. I see it’s much needed appeal now. It’s very needed by man. I especially love that religious training teaches people to sacrifice and care about others more than yourself. It really does help me to stay in the word.

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  5. Pingback: The Sacred Cow of Self-Esteem | Just Writing!

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