“I am a worm, and no man.”
Christ, in Psalm 22:6
“What is man, that thou art mindful of him?
and the son of man, that thou visitest him?
David, in Psalm 8:6
An essay on self-esteem by Token Embry.
Self-Esteem is an important component of society today. Society frowns upon criticism of a child’s character. Yet the gospel teaches that in us, “there is no good thing” (Rom. 7:18) The point of the gospel is that we are born in need of some help from Jesus. We do not know how to choose what is good and right without the spirit to guide us in all truth. We are inherently bad creatures. We are inherently wrong in our hearts because we do not know God. This is opposite of what so many teachers, counselors and even parents will say to children today.
When I was a child in elementary school, the whole school was brought to the auditorium for an assembly on “Self-Esteem”. In an effort to teach us how wonderful we were, we sang over and over a one-line song, “I am special; I’m important; I’m unique.” I and many of my classmates were embarrassed. We avoided the microphone as it was passed around for us to sing into. But our teachers all encouraged us to sing it and sing it loud! This incident shows just how self-focused we were taught to be, and that symbolizes the whole approach to education that I received growing up by well-meaning adults.
In order to reach Jesus at some point, every child who was asked to sing that song will have to come to a different place where they say in their hearts, “No. There is nothing good about me. It is your love, Jesus, that has given me the wonderful life I have. I did not inherently deserve it or even know how to desire what was right. But you do, and I want what you want for me, not my own ways. I need your help to find what is right.” The point of the Gospel is that we need God’s help. We should seek him and pray to get it. It is a “pearl of great price” (Matt. 13:46). But if we are so “special, important and unique” then how can we admit fault and our need of help?
The Gospel teaches us that if there is anything good about us, it comes from above, from God’s life in us. It is His spirit that shows us how to love the ones we love and how to be good, like our Father. While it is God’s “good pleasure to give us the kingdom” (Luke 12:32), we can not forget it comes from him. What we need today is to know that God’s thoughts and feelings in us are not our own. We cannot have right thoughts without God. And we need to stop taking credit for what God gives us, confusing them as our own, but rather to enjoy freely the wonderful gifts they are. We need to esteem them so highly that no man can persuade us otherwise. To be so thrilled that God has rescued us, we do not let go of his instruction. To be so hungry for His Voice, that the sound overtakes any other sound around us. What we need is God-Esteem, not self-esteem.