Recently, my husband and I came across a video by PragerU called “Why Self-Esteem Is Self-Defeating.” It made me think about something… There seems to be such a big push for people to love themselves and have high self-esteem. But what does having self-esteem really mean?
What is self-esteem?
In the video, Matt Walsh pulls from the dictionary definition of esteem which is, “to regard with admiration.” He then shows a scenario where a man is on a date, and his date asks him who he admires.
The man replies, “Well, I admire myself.” That sounds insanely narcissistic, doesn’t it? But that is what having self-esteem means! It means that you regard yourself with admiration.
If we take a look at what the word admiration means, the dictionary says, “a feeling of wonder, pleasure, or approval.”
The problem with self-esteem
So based on the above definitions then if we have self-esteem we should basically feel in awe of ourselves. I don’t know about you, but that sounds awfully prideful. In other words (again, the dictionary says it best), “a high or inordinate opinion of one’s own dignity, importance, merit, or superiority.”
James 4:6 says, “But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: ‘God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble,’ ” and Proverbs 11:2, “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom.”
So according to these two verses, if we are prideful then God opposes us, and we will be disgraced. To me, this seems like a really steep price to pay in the name of having self-esteem. On the flip side, though, these verses also say that if we are humble God will show us favor, and we will have wisdom.
What to do instead
At this point you might be saying, “So what, am I supposed to think poorly of myself? That doesn’t sound very good either.” And you’re right. Well, we shouldn’t just go around with a glum attitude about ourselves all of the time. How is that living a joyful life?
As Matt Walsh emphasizes, a lack of self-esteem does not mean the same thing as low self-esteem. In other words, it is the absence of esteem, not the presence of low esteem.
So what should you replace self-esteem with in your life? In one word, humbleness. To go even further, I will also include confidence. But by confidence I don’t mean confidence in yourself because that can fall into the pride trap as well.
Go through life having confidence in God. We don’t need to be confident in ourselves when we know that we can feel all of those things about God.
I don’t want to have a high opinion of myself. I want to think low enough of myself that I can recognize that I still have a long way to go to live the life I am supposed to according to the Bible. When we think too highly of ourselves then it leads to stagnation because why would we need to keep moving or growing if we are already great the way that we are?
Self-esteem has been pushed on us so much that often we don’t even think twice about the idea. How about we try getting out of our own way, though, in order to live humble lives instead? Let’s have confidence in God instead of our own greatness.
What are your views on self-esteem?