On Self-Esteem and Selfishness
Updated: Sep 8
I recently facilitated a workshop for a national non-profit on developing a healthy self-esteem and self-confidence. The response was overwhelming from both men and women but particularly women. I must confess though, it struck me long before then that this movement toward healthy self-esteem, self-confidence, self-care and self-love can be a bit tricky, especially for those of us who identify as Christian. I think it can be as harmful as it can be helpful if we’re not careful.
What??!!?? I have been doing all these positive affirmations, journaling and visualizing. What you takin’ about preacher?
Well, it’s simple. If it takes a village to raise a child, then surely it takes a village to sustain a community. No matter how much “self” acuity we may develop, we need each other. IJS.
Everywhere we turn, we see it. Self-__________. You fill in the blank. All over television, social media, in our women’s ministries—everywhere. I don’t doubt that self-STUFF is needed. Heck, these are some things I coach in my groups, workshops and ministry to women, but truth told, nagging in the back of my mind is Philippians 2:3-4.
Uhhhhh, what are we going to do with this? I don’t believe this must be a choice to esteem ourselves or esteem others. Nope! It’s not an either/or proposition. But I’m suggesting we find some balance in this because our village is in trouble!
So, I’m going to just put this out there. The enemy (spiritual and natural) has deceived us into developing the mindset of materialism and individualism. Oh yeah, “I’m on my grind, getting mine and I’m looking out for me, mine and ours. When I finish my hustle, I’m taking it down and taking care of me.” That’s the mindset we have developed, particularly in America.
Then here comes Jesus! Bringing us a counter cultural challenge to think better of others than of ourselves. Where in the world do they do that?!? Which, I think, is Jesus’ point precisely. That we have been called to be better, do better and make life better. After all, if we don’t attempt to live out this thing called love, which by the way, covers a multitude of sin and is the fulfillment of the law, who will?
We’re all connected. Like it or not, we have a kinship. Your success is my success. We must learn to celebrate one another. My loss is your loss. We must also learn to mourn with one another. We need each other. Jesus said it something like this: Can the head say to the feet I don’t need you? Can your eye say to your hand, I don’t need you? No! You have one body and each part has a function but works best together. It’s just designed that way.
We also, are designed that way. We function best together. I have my gifts and abilities and you have yours. None of us have everything. So how do we find a balance between the “rise and grind for me and mine” mindset of the world and esteeming others better than ourselves instruction from Jesus? Mindfulness and intentionality.
Here are six suggestions for keeping the balance.
1. Find or create a community for mutual support and accountability.
For some this could be a church, a fraternal or civic organization or just a group of friends who share mutual interests. If needed, create the support system that works for you.
2. Be intentional about staying connected to family and friends.
Make a point of connecting with someone outside of your immediate circle at least twice a month.
3. Perform intentional acts of kindness.
Pay the toll for the person behind you; buy someone lunch or a cup of coffee. The opportunities for kindness are endless.
4. Sincerely compliment others, especially strangers.
Don’t be afraid to offer a sincere compliment to a stranger. If you see a sister who slays, let her know. See a child engaged in positive behavior? Let her know you see her and share an encouraging word.
Become a volunteer at a non-profit that strikes your interest. There’s no greater feeling of satisfaction than sharing your time and talent with others.
6. Be grateful.
In all things, give thanks. Find three things you’re are grateful for every day. Choose to see the positive in a situation instead of the negative. Sometimes it’s a stretch but you can do it.
Oh yeah, it’s perfectly OK to love yourself, take care of yourself and be gracious to yourself. But, let’s not forget our call to serve others because anyone who desire to be great must be willing to serve. At least it is so in God’s economy.