IMPROVING OUR SELF-IMAGE
J. T. PUGH
In most every profession of the world the tools of a man’s trade lie outside himself. What a man is in character, attitude and motivation has little to do with the performance of his work. If he possesses certain basic skills and has the tools for such he is able to execute well his responsibility. This is not true relative to the minister of the gospel. The minister’s tools lie within himself. They have to do with the psychic and spiritual impulses such as love, trust, faith, and conviction.
Thus what a man is on the inside determines largely how successfully he can discharge the work of God. In considering the improvement of our self-image we go inside and deal with the real source of the ministers action and reaction.
I received the baptism of the Holy Ghost thirty-nine years ago. I have been attempting to preach the gospel for thirty-five years. During this time it has been my responsibility to engage in much counseling with all age groups, with both sexes, and both with ministers and laymen. I must conclude that most of the hang-ups I have encountered have to do with a faulty self-image, This is one of the basic causes of all other deep seated personal problems.
Our all wise God knows this. This is the one that he primarily works on. He came to this world not to save the well, but to save sinners. He came to set men free. The greatest release that a man of this earth ever knows is the release from the guilt of sin, All of us that have preached the gospel for any length of time have our own personal stories of a marvelous enabling grace of God. We have seen both men and women released from a dreadful sense of guilt. We have seen them come to a place of self-respect. We have rejoiced with them as we noticed them being able to lift their heads and face life a healthy, respectable citizen of the community.
Self-rejection is something that even the boldest of people at some time in their lives have suffered. The result of it is always depression. Self-rejection sucks our energies. It drains off creative strength. It results in good men of God succumbing to discouragement and giving up pastorates that they should not have given up.
One of the most awesome systems of attack prepared by both the United States and Russia today is the undersea, missile carrying machines of war. They can strike any part of the earth at any given time with devastating effect. Their capability for destruction is beyond the wildest comprehension of the average citizen. But no matter how intricate their pattern of attack or defense is. No matter how sophisticated their electronic equipment. No matter how well trained the crew or how capable they are of operating their marvelous equipment. None of this is of any good unless the people responsible for the same knows first of all exactly where they are, This they must know in minute detail. A general knowledge is not sufficient. For it is impossible for them to hit any target unless all of their marvelous systems are properly related to the rest of the world. This includes both every continent, every mountain range, and the stars of the sky. All of this they must relate to properly if their missile is to strike the prescribed target.
So no man of this earth can be counted effective unless he first knows himself. He must know of assurity what position he occupies and be able to relate not only to the world about him but to his present personal self. The scripture tells us, “as a man thinketh in his heart so is he”.
All of us have seen people rise up from projected failure and overcome dismal odds. No one believed that their come-back or victory could have been possible at all. What was their secret? Everyone about them judged that they were a complete failure. Why didn’t they fail? The fact is that while other people thought they would fail, they did not believe it to be so. While others thought failure, they thought success.
In the Black Hills range of mountains in South Dakota there is being carved out a statue of Chief Crazyhorse sitting astride his pony. From the tip of his finger which points westward to the base of the statue is a height of 32 stories. No one in the United States at first believed that such a tremendous monument could ever be created. The entire top of a mountain range is being removed and reshaped to create this marvelous work of art. How did it begin? It started with one lone man who believed it could be done. No one offered to give him help either financial or otherwise. Bare handed and alone he cut his steps out up the mountain and began to lug up his equipment.
After two or three years he convinced the world that it could be done. In a few years this marvelous statue will be completed. Millions thought the sculptor could not do it. But the sculptor
believed within his heart that he could. This makes the difference. He had confidence in himself. He believed that he was capable of doing this.
To further illustrate the value of a healthy self-image I would like to tell you the story of a man who lived in California. I only know his name as Rusty. He was sixty years old. He was only old in years however and not in attitude. One day he stepped down from a curb stone and was struck by a hit and run drunken driver, who got away and left him floundering in the street. At the hospital the finest orthopedic surgeons in California worked for five hours on his legs which were crushed and broken. The medical men did their best; they attempted to avoid amputation. Such did not seem possible. He ended up with both legs incased in plaster from toes to hip.
“How long will it be before I start walking?” Rusty asked the surgeon.
“Well, Rusty, we’ve got to give it to you straight. You’re sixty years old, and your bones will not mend as rapidly as if you were younger. There is a likelihood they won’t mend at all. You may have to settle for the fact that you may never walk again.”
“Thank you doctor,” Rusty said. “You know, I have another doctor. I think you’re great, and that doctor and you are working together. You have finished your job; you put the bones together. Now the other doctor will make them heal.”
The surgeon asked, Who is this great doctor”?
“Well”, said Rusty, “He keeps office in the New Testament; His name is Jesus Christ.”
“I know. I believe in Him too, and He is a great doctor. But you have to face facts,” the doctor concluded, “I’m going to face facts. But the chief fact is that I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me. This is the fact that I am going to face, not the fact of disability you’re giving me,” Rusty said. At the moment this seemed to be a stupid thing to say.
One day during visiting hours Rusty asked his wife, “what do you think I dreamed last night? I was fishing up at the city reservoir. The bass were biting real well. Afterwards, I walked all the way home, five miles, I climbed over stone walls, I leaped over logs, I ran up the hills like a twelve year old boy.”
This was not the last dream that he had. Night after night as he lay in the hospital with his legs incased in plaster he dreamed he walked, ran, jumped, swam, and even rode horse back. In the mornings we would waken refreshed, and eager to share his latest adventure with the nurse and skeptical visitors.
“I will walk again,” Rusty assured them all. “God intends for man to use his legs, and that is what I’m going to do.”
At the end of only four and one half months the hospital staff gathered to study Rusty’s latest X-rays. They blinked in disbelief. His second series confirmed the startling fact; the bones in Rusty’s legs were growing together again, smoothly.
There followed a lot of faith, prayer, and believing in God. After some months Rusty was back at his old job, and walking to work. Then came the day when he climbed on a horse and took his three grandchildren gaily up the mountain side. When asked about it all, he said “why, all my life I believed that God could do anything. I did not have the slightest doubt that with his help I could overcome the crippling effects of my wreck.”
All of us could tell similar stories that we know personally from first hand experience. The source of victory in each case lay deep inside of the recipients part. What is inside of a person is more important than anything else.
We must conclude that what other people think of us is not near so important as what we think of others.
Now all the people you know have an opinion of. This is natural. We must form an opinion either pro or con relative to everyone that we meet. This affects our behavior toward them. But that is not all. You also hold an opinion of yourself. This also affects your behavior, attitudes, productivity and ultimate success.
I once read a detailed true account of a family of six boys who decided not to go to college. Fifteen years from the time that the youngest graduated from high school the welfare of the family was reviewed. Everyone had done well financially and otherwise in the world. They were comfortably situated and enjoying an income which was above average. Why did they succeed? One of the great factors they had going for them was that they had a healthy self-image. They had a happy strong disciplined home. That home was full of sunlight, love and confidence.
Their mother was a joyous, alert, hard working individual. The father was a solid well balanced aggressive man. Both the mother and the father left the impression with their sons that
they were capable of doing anything that they wanted to do. These particular thoughts produced feelings, and feelings produced action; consequently their self-image thoughts definitely
affected their actions in a very positive way. This underscores the fact that one who maintains a self-confident image of himself will perform to his maximum ability, but the insecure person
who lacks self-confidence will not. This explains why some who are talented fail while others not so talented succeed.
The opinion one holds of himself is a product of a lifetime. It is not formed by a single event or experience. The person you believe yourself to be is a combination of thousands of victories, failures, frustrations, humiliations, and successes.
We all are born into this world with a basic temperament pattern. That pattern is influenced by six different people.
They may be mothers and fathers, and also their mothers and fathers. Strange as it may seem our grandparents have a stronger genetic influence over us relative to our basic temperments than either of our mothers or dads. Since six different have an influence on our basic temperament we can readily see why in a given family none of the children have the same basic temperament. This is a good thing. It gives the children at home an opportunity to be exposed to various temperaments of people before they are launched out into a world of diversed and varied personalities.
The environment of the home we are reared in has a major influence in correcting or enhancing our temperament for good or further depress its possibilities. For example, if you were born a happy go lucky or even self-confident temper, you may be constrained to develop a defeatist complex by being excessively criticized by your parents. This is especially so if it is continually practiced throughout your lifetime. On the other hand if you were born with a-negative temperament and prone to be indecisive and insecure you may have been blessed with wise parents who attempted to change your defeatist attitude by surrounding you with love, acceptance and encouragement. This would have been a great help to you if it came to you in the early years of your life. At any rate whatever self-image you came out of your home with you may rest assured it has largely governed the rest of your life. There is an old expression which is absolutely true, “you are what you think you are.”
If you think that you are ugly and incapable, you most likely are. It doesn’t matter what you actually are, for what really affects your productivity and action is what you think you are.
If we have held this self-image of ourselves for some length of time it has become a part of our subconscious mind. This is where our real self-image rests.
In any conflict between the conscious and subconscious mind, the subconscious will always win. What you believe yourself to be at the subconscious level is what you really are,
Thus to really change our self-image we must transform ourselves into subconscious mind first. This cannot happen over night. But with God’s help it can be done.
I am presently thinking of a minister who commands attention wherever he goes. One person confided to me, “when he walks into the room you get the feeling that something is about
to happen”. There are several things I could say about him positively. One of the things most important at this point is however, that he enjoys a tremendous amount of self-respect.
He always looks his best wherever he goes. You could not say that he was haughty and proud. He simply makes the best of his assets. There are many preachers who have had a better
opportunity than he, but who have not accomplished what he has.
Why? In part I can firmly say that they lack his self-image. He did not get his self-respect from his family. The Lord gave him tremendous assistance. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ has
bestowed upon him a confidence in his God and in his ability. I have seen him through the years grow into a dynamic, hard driving, successful minister.
II. OUR RECEPTION IN THIS WORLD DEPENDS ON WHAT WE FEEL ABOUT OURSELVES.
A happy person is far more likely to be productive than an unhappy person. A prosperous person is a far greater asset to a church and to a community than a chronic failure. A person who has some of his desires met is more likely to be mindful of the desires of other people than one who has never known any measure of success.
All professions that deal with people will tell you that most of the crime, most of the sickness, and most of the misery in the world is caused by unhappy people. If we think such thoughts and allow ourselves to reside spiritually in such a way that we make ourselves miserable and frustrated we are doing the world a tremendous disservice. No one can be happy if they have a low opinion of themselves. People who have a low opinion of themselves do not get along well with other people.
Carnegie Institute of Technology analyzed the records of two thousand successful persons. The result was computed. Fifteen percent of the success factor was due to their technical training. Eighty-five percent of the success factor was due to personality factors. They had a personality which related well with other people, They were able to deal effectively with others.
The Bureau of Vocational Guidance at Harvard discovered that out of four thousand men fired in 1973, four hundred could simply not do the work. Three thousand and six hundred were fired because they could not get along with other people. How well we get along with other people depends a great deal on what we think about them. What we think about them depends a great deal on what we think about ourselves. It is impossible to project peace outward to our fellowman unless we have peace within ourselves. If we are negative inside relative to ourselves, we will invariably project negative influence outward into all our transactions with our fellowman.
What a person thinks of himself will affect what other people think of him. You may feel free to test this out the next time you come to an airline baggage counter. Notice the people who receive polite service with dignity. Then also notice people who are spoken to with disrespect. You will be able to detect immediately that the man who exudes self-confidence and self-acceptance is extended respect by others. Watch this when you go into a restaurant and receive service from the waiter.
Our self-image thus as we see created our public image. If you lack confidence in yourself so will everyone else. It is time to break a negative cycle which you may have fallen into. I would like to give you three good reasons why you should not allow other people to affect your opinion of yourself.
1. Obviously God’s opinion is the best. How does God feel about you? A little reflection will surface the fact that he cared enough for you that he died for you. We arc told in the scripture, “He that spared not his own son but freely delivered Him up for our justification, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?” You are tremendously loved and respected by God. This should mean something to you.
2. Most of the time others regard us higher than we think they do. It is easy to misinterpret their appearances or actions. It could be that they are concentrating or thinking about something else entirely different from what we imagine.
3. If other people think negative thoughts of you it may not be an actual truth. They are simply reflecting your own self-image. You may be wrong also in your estimation of yourself. You have been wrong before.
III. AREAS IN WHICH WE TEND TO REJECT OURSELVES
A. MOST PEOPLE REJECT THEIR OWN PERSONAL APPEARANCE.
There is an inherent tendency among most of us to not like ourselves. Very few people like their own names. The most handsome and beautiful people of the world could name you several things that they would like to have changed about their personal appearance.
I, not long ago, read the account of a very poor ignorant boy age 17 who had plastic surgery performed to correct a severe hair lipped situation. This operation was funded by the welfare. He was unaccustomed to the city or to hospital wards or equipment. Just prior to the operation he was extremely terrified.
He kept shouting over and over, “I’m going to die, I’m going to die”. Me felt better after he woke up and discovered that death did not really come to him. He was very quiet during the time of
the healing process. He did not see himself of course completely until the day when the final bandage was taken away.
When this bandage was removed and someone handed him a small mirror he looked into it with relief. Tears filled his eyes when he saw his reshaped, near normal face. His first words were,
“I’m going to live”. The difference was that he had not lived here before. A new facial image had given him a new self-image. Now he could accept himself.
B. WE ALLOW OURSELVES A LOW SELF-IMAGE BECAUSE OF THE ABILITIES OF OTHERS.
When we tend to compare ourselves with others we invariably come up with an inadequate view of our own abilities. In the Bible we are warned about comparing ourselves with others. Sooner or later all of us will find someone better than ourselves. If we are so insecure that we live on a competitive basis we have at that moment triggered for ourselves a problem.
I watched with admiration one day a strong, physically fit man punching a heavy bag. I could remember a time in my life when I also could do that. When he had finished I asked to borrow his gloves. I was so physically unfit that I only succeeded in exhausting myself immediately and making a fool of myself. This deflated my ego. I seriously considered bringing myself up to a physical fitness to the point that I could again spend three uninterrupted minutes with the punching bag. Reason and wisdom came to the rescue. “How important is this anyway?”
I thought. “There are many, many more things more important than this. While this man here can punch the bag much better than I, there are other things that I can excel him in.”
In my later life I discovered while preparing myself for college entrance examination that I had forgotten much of what I had studied previously concerning general education, humanities, etc. While continuing my studies I was appalled at my ignorance of various fields. Again wisdom and reason came to the rescue, I said to myself, “I could take these same books to the greatest surgeon in this city. When I ask him these questions I seriously doubt that he could answer anymore than what I am able to answer. He knows a lot about surgery but little about these particular fields. So there are other things that I also am more familiar about. No one can know everything well. There are some things that I do know well.”
What is extremely important to one person is not that important to you. What is the most important thing in your life? Whatever it is you can master that well. Our talents or abilities are confirmed by God and our responsibility in life is to serve and glorify him. Fulfillment, happiness, and self-acceptance are best found in doing the will of God for our lives.
There is nothing in the world more rewarding than shaping human lives. There is nothing that gives us more a sense of satisfaction than to look into the face of an individual that we have lead to God. When we see young people able to assume lifes responsibilities, and homes put back together again, this is reward enough. This with the help of God we can do.
C. SOME ARE ASHAMED OF THEIR BACKGROUND
More than one person, coming from a poor economic back-ground has attempted to hide the matter. Later in life after they have achieved some measure of success their self-image is strong enough that they feel safe in disclosing the fact that they were of poor background.
I shall never forget the story of one of the richest men of America. He is a black man. He was raised in a little share cropper cabin behind a cotton field. However his wise determined mother would never let him develop a complex. She sternly reminded him that their lot in life was not predicated upon harsh circumstance. She would not allow him the luxury of self-pity. She placed the blame for their poverty squarely on the proposition that they had not fully availed themselves of every opportunity possible to them.
The story of America is the story of hungry, courageous, striving people lifting themselves up by their bootstraps out of adverse circumstance.
People sometimes feel inferior because of the lack of education. A very successful man sat in my living room not long ago. He lives in a very nice home, is financially secure, and enjoys the fact that he is the father of two very successful children. In the course of the conversation he admitted to me that he did not have an education. I felt constrained to correct him. I told him that he had a very good education. I did not stress a point at all. Though this man had not finished high school he could discuss almost any subject that anyone cared to talk about. He had applied himself in reading and other things during his entire lifetime.
We are living in a day when people are not putting as much credence on education as they used to. It has been discovered if a person has a good self-image, is not lazy, and willing to learn then can make as much or more money than a person with a degree. Education after all is not The credit it is the knowledge. This world is filled with people who are tremendously knowledgeable and successful without a scholastic rating.
Some people are tinted relative to their geographical background. While I was in high school I lived with one of my sisters. She and her husband like many other people of that time and today as well were limited financially. We lived in a rent house close to colored quarters. The house also was located by a large cattle lot. The location was undesirable to say the least. I was very sensitive relative to this.
Later however, I discovered in talking to people that no one else felt as I did. My sensitivity relative to my residence was simply a matter of my personal opinion. Many people are ashamed of their religion. In times past Pentecostals had an ill regard in the minds of some people.
Sad to say, Pentecostal people have for years been content to accept the opinion of others. A low opinion of the Pentecostal heritage is not as prevalent today as it used to be. But for years people accepted an untrue low image of themselves. This carried over into their inability to witness effectively to others. It did not stop there. Many Pentecostal people in times past found it hard to discuss religion with anyone. They were so very defensive. For years Pentecostal young people were ashamed to even carry a Bible. Why? They had accepted a image of themselves as being inferior religious wise to other people.
How can we believe that God would be pleased with such an attitude? Neither is God pleased with us thinking disparagingly of someone he died for. I am referring at this point to the person
who is presently sitting between your elbows.
We have mentioned four particular areas which influence our self-image. Each of them can be enhanced by the proper spiritual attitude. If you really believe that God loves you and has produced you for a special reason, as the Bible teaches, then you can accept with thanksgiving your appearance, abilities, heritage, and environment. Once you accept these by faith in God and His word, you will find it easy to accept yourself. But if you reject one or more of these areas, you will suffer the miseries that accompany self-rejection. You are God’s child and the good Lord has allowed everything to come into your life for a particular purpose. Isn’t that wonderful!
V. WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO COME TO TERMS WITH YOURSELF AND LIKE YOURSELF?
A. TO ESCAPE SELF-PITY
No one can feel sorry for themselves without in time becoming depressed. This depression will increase in intensity with age unless we learn to accept whatever limitations we may seem to have an instrument which God is using for His glory. Unless we accept these particular things as God’s will and God’s instrument we cannot be happy nor productive. You may change your environment, your life’s circumstance, and come to temporary periods of relief. But unless we root out of our heart this dreadful thing we call “self-pity” we are doomed to a life of slavery. No one can feel sorry for themselves and be happy at the same time.
B. TO AVOID A LIFE OF QUESTIONING DOUBT
No one can have great faith in God as long as they are unhappy with themselves. There are some things which we must accept as the will of God for us. If we do not so accept them with thankfulness an unbroken and stubborn spirit gives rise in our hearts. We are told in the Bible to give thanks in everything. Unless we are able to do this it is obvious that we have not submitted ourselves completely to the Lord. We have turmoil on the inside. We question God concerning our circumstance. We cannot have faith or anything under these conditions.
C. A PERSON WHO IS NOT AT PEACE WITH HIMSELF TENDS TO BE REBELLIOUS.
Sometimes a person is rebellious toward their parents. At other times rebellion crops up in a mans relationship toward his boss or his wife. Most of the time anyone who occupies the seat of authority constitutes an imagined problem for a person who has rejected themselves. Such a person is not in harmony. Therefore they cannot produce harmony. James tells us, “the fruits of righteousness are sown in peace, of them that make peace.” It is impossible to have real righteousness in ones life unless there is a climate of peace. Note also that only the people who make peace can sow seeds of righteousness.
I have known some preachers who have trouble in every church they attempt to pastor. They may take a church which is at rest, prospering, and in harmony. But soon turmoil resides there. Why? Most of the time it is Because the preacher has not found himself. He is a seething caldron of turmoil on the inside. The frustration which he has in his own heart he projects in every situation he comes in contact with.
D. IN ORDER TO RE ABLE TO ACCEPT OTHER PEOPLE
When a person rejects himself he finds it difficult to get along with other people. He is prone to be super sensitive to the opinion of other people. He takes any disagreement with his opinions as being a personal affront to himself. He is sensitive to other peoples attitudes relative to his capabilities, parental background or environment. Often you hear such a person say, “in order to avoid trouble I’ll just stay away.” He becomes a hider. As he withdraws further and further away from the main stream of fellowship he thinks more and more upon his own needs, feelings and thoughts.
Since he doesn’t like himself anyway, he becomes more and more unhappy.
The fact of the matter is that no human being is self-sufficient. All of us need something the other has. Each of us have valuable assets that the others are hungry for. It is a sad thing when we are so locked within ourselves by a poor self-image so that we cannot communicate with those about us. The world about us is a vast caldron of human interchange, action, and reaction. Our independence most of the time is nothing but a smokescreen. We do want things from other people. We want their good will, their friendship, and recognition. Every normal person wants success and happiness. These things come largely through dealing with other people. Your happiness largely depends on your relationship with others. Your relationship with others depends largely with how you feel about yourself.
A poor self-image sparks aggressiveness in some people. It is the wrong kind of aggression. It is destructive. It sometimes causes preachers to destroy churches. Such men feel continually that they must defend their position. Even their preaching is continually defensive. They feel always that they must defend whatever statement they make. Thus their life is negative instead of creative and productive.
E. IN ORDER TO BE FREE FROM THINGS
When a person rejects himself a vacuum is created. He often fills this or attempts to fill it with material things. Such a tendency may exhibit itself in an over emphasis in clothes, or the amassing of material goods, none of which produces happiness.
Jesus tells us, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you”.
The person who does not accept himself feels compelled to prop himself up with external things. Jesus Christ was given the clothes that he wore. He preached from a borrowed boat, and road a borrowed donkey. He was a pauper when he died. Yet he was so complete and so strong. He seemed to need so little. He was sufficient within himself.
F. IN ORDER NOT TO BE FAILURE PRONE
Each birth of a child is a miracle. It is said that under proper conditions a person can remember as far back as even their birth. Every baby that is born is said to come into this world angry and struggling. Each one of them under God is born to succeed. God is perfect in Himself and all that He does. We cannot believe that he deliberately creates failures.
All of us have a moral responsibility to succeed. This means to rise to our highest and our best. Success is not measured in money. Success cannot be measured by human acclaim. Success is effected only when an individual fills his highest potential. We have a moral obligation to the community we live in to do just that. We owe it to the district of which we are a part to do our very best. And then of course we owe it to ourselves and consequently to the lives that we touch to be the very best kind of a person possible. We will never realize these possibilities if we have a poor self-image. Negative thoughts relative to ourselves are like chains and weights which continually drag us down below our possible level. We become failure prone.
A person who has a poor self-image feels inadequate and inferior. They forget that a mistake does not make them a failure. No one, nor no circumstance can cause us to feel inferior without our consent.
A mistake does not necessarily constitute a failure. There is a risk in all of life. But if a person accepts himself and understands himself they are willing to take the risk. I sat in a nice home before a comfortable fire in the vast snow fields of the pine tree district. Before me sat a man who had come to an unchurch city four years previously. In that city during these four years there was raised up a thriving work. A beautiful new church on several acres of ground witnessed to his faith and hard labor. I was tremendously gratified by a statement this brave man made. He said, “I would not be afraid of stepping off a bus in any town with only two dollars in my pocket. I feel that I could raise up a work anywhere with no more money to begin with then that. The greatest blessing that I
have received out of this work here is what it has done for me on the inside. It has convinced me that with God’s help I can do anything.” There is an old statement which has much truth in it,
“he can who thinks he can”.
G. TO ENABLE US TO BE REAL
A person who is not happy with himself invariably will attempt to imitate someone else, He feels that the other person offers to the world a better image than himself. On the other hand a person who respects himself is content to be himself. No one can ever be happy if they spend their lives trying to be someone else. God created each of us as a unique individual.
You have within you an authentic greatness all your own. Use it; don’t waste it! You do waste it when you try to be someone else for the simple reason you are not someone else and you never
H. SO THAT WE MAY RISE TO OUR HIGHEST AND BEST
A person who continually dwells upon his past failures will in time conclude, nothing ever works for me, nothing ever succeeds, I am doomed to failure! Since the subconscious mind tends to bring us to the fulfillment of whatever we place on the screen of our imagination, such thinking inevitably produces failure, not because we lack the potential to succeed, but because we expect it to fail. This is not the will of God for us. God wishes each of us to succeed.
God has a plan for each of our lives. If we follow that plan in the will of God there will inevitably come to us a great sense of fulfillment and happiness. Yourself is the only tool which God has to work with. When you reject the tool for whom Christ died you not only refrain from using your own natural talents but you also hinder God from using you. Jesus said, “I’m come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly”. It is impossible to know that abundant life until we realize that by faith God is able to bless even you:
VI. SOME EVIDENCES OF A HEALTHY SELF-IMAGE
No one is perfect. A mature person knows this. He accepts himself for what he is, He sees himself in the light of Calvary, He knows what the righteousness of Jesus Christ is.
At one time in my life under severe condemnation I was again engaged in repenting over something which God had long ago forgiven me for. At this point God used His statement to the
Apostle Peter on the housetop to rebuke me and arrest me. The Holy Ghost simply seemed to say to me, “what I have cleansed let no man call common, or unclean”. This was so strongly impressed
upon me that I never forgot it. I had at that time a habit of berating myself. When I would make a mistake I would speak to myself, sometimes audibly. I would say such things as, “OK J.T., you showed your ignorance didn’t you?” That was quite a stupid thing to say wasn’t it? The Holy Ghost condemned me for saying such things. The Lord seemed to instruct me that I was speaking
disparingly of his son. That I would not so address anyone else. why should I speak to myself that way?
A. A PERSON WITH A PROPER SELF-IMAGE WILL GIVE GOD HIS RIGHTFUL PLACE IN HIS LIFE.
Such an individual will submit himself to God. He will not resist the will of God for his life.
He will not be confused about the real purpose of life. He will not be sidetracked or diverted into a driving ambition to succeed. Instead he will be constantly concerned about his relationship with God. He will wish ever and always to put God absolutely first in his life.
B. HE WILL RELATE WELL WITH OTHER PEOPLE.
The person who is able to live compatibly with himself feels that he has something worth while to contribute. He sees possibilities of making contributions. He is also walking toward people and not away from them. He has within him the ability to love other people. He is not envious of their success. He is able to rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep. A truly mature person will love and accept other people for themselves and rejoice in their successes.
C. HE WILL FEEL COMFORTABLE WITH HIMSELF
The second of the ten commandments declares, “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself”. This is not a command to not love yourself. If we obey this command, the more we love ourselves the more we will love our neighbor. This is not just an equation. It is an actual law of psychology. The more one loves himself the more able he is to love his neighbor. A person who “does not love himself will not love his neighbor. All of our relationship with other people is predicated upon our relationship with ourselves. There is just one stipulation here. Self love must appear third on the list of priorities.
The person who has a proper self-image of himself will not feel lonely even while alone. He will not be continually withdrawing into a deep dark tunnel of a troubled mind. The person who does not feel comfortable with himself is lonely even in the presence of people.
D. HE IS ABLE TO ACCEPT RESPONSIBILITY
A person who is mature spiritually is not afraid of the consequence of his actions. He does not count a mistake as being the end of the world. In panic he does not attempt to shift. The blame to some other person. He feels that his own person, the trust of other people in him, his own record of dependability is sufficient to bear the blame. He does not feel that his security is contingent on a single experience in life. He is more concerned as to what can be done about the problem than he is who is to blame for it. To the well adjusted person this is only a minor factor.
E. HE IS HAPPY
The well adjusted person is not uptight concerning thoughts of what other people think about him. He simply lives with the moment. He is secure enough to make the right decisions at the right time. He is not afraid that he would appear foolish in the eyes of his constituents. And perhaps you have noticed that such a person usually does the right thing at the right time.
His joy is not dependant upon people or circumstance, but radiates from within. Paul writing to the Ephesians stated that one filled with the spirit should have a song in his heart. He should have a spirit of thanksgiving. He also should have a submissive attitude. Such a person always seems on top of a situation.
At one time someone asked his friend how he was getting along. The friend replied, “alright I suppose under the circumstance.” The questioning friend in surprise asked, “under the circumstance? What are you doing under there?”
F. THE PERSON WITH A HEALTHY SELF-IMAGE IS ABLE TO ADJUST TO CIRCUMSTANCE.
He is not imprisoned by a rigid inflexible life. He is not drawn into quandary and into tremendous frustration because his schedule, etc. may be disrupted. He is able to bend when necessary and readjust his program when the occasion demands. He does not take an adjustment to be an attack upon his own judgement, He is able to recognize circumstance over which he has no control. Thus he makes the best of the matter. With such a frame of mind he is able to act in a relaxed and positive way. So even the adverse circumstance of life does not stop him. His creative mind is able to produce an effective alternative.
G. HE IS ABLE TO ACCEPT CRITICISM
The emotionally secure person is able to aggressively pursue truth. He is not affronted when someone suggests that his method might not he the best. He is able to team with his friend in deliberately seeing to find something better than he has created.
VII. STEPS TOWARD IMPROVING YOUR SELF-IMAGE
In order for one to improve themselves in anyway they must be willing to put away the attitude, and procedures they are presently using. This is true also of improving ones self-image. I once read of a secret medicine found deep in Africa. It had power for a short time to make even the oldest person beautiful and young again. However, it had to be mixed with the fresh blood of a youthful sacrifice. And then also it would only last for a certain length of time. Of course, this is only a story. But it has a proper illustration. In order for something youthful and new to live, something else must be put away, What steps can we take to always have a fresh youthful approach toward life?
A. DEVELOP A PERSONAL DAILY WALK WITH GOD
Jesus tells us, “if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another and the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin”. What a wonderful arrangement: Sunlight in our hearts. Fellowship with God. And fellowship with our fellowman. All of this is brought about by an honest open approach first of all to God. How important it is to walk with Him daily.
We should have our own private, personal devotion to God. This is a period when we are not studying for a sermon or simply to gain Bible knowledge. It is a time of seclusion with someone who has become so very warm, personal, and dear to us. We are able to leave this closet of private devotion with a great sense of well being. Se feel clean and healthy inside. We are forgiven. We feel cleansed.
B. APPRECIATE THE FACT THAT YOU ARE MADE IN GOD’S IMAGE
David as he looked at the stars, etc. asked the question, “What is man that thou art mindful of him”, The answer came back from the scripture telling us that we are, “fearfully and wonderfully made”. God has made each of us for a particular purpose. Pawl teaches us that we are members of the body. More and more scientist are discovering that there is no such thing as an unimportant member or organ of the body. We all have our place and share a common responsibility.
God gives us instruction in the Bible concerning the general care of our bodies. There is particular instruction to male and female relative to hair, dress, adorning, etc. Some people would have us to believe today that this is unimportant. With God it is extremely important. Why? God who knows all things, knows that a person expresses themselves outwardly by their dress, etc. of what they feel and believe inwardly. A persons appearance is often a true index of self-acceptance. If a person feels inadequate, slovenly, and downcast he will wear clothes that exhibit those feelings. It is no accident that the hippies dress the way that they do. They have lost their self-respect. Since they do not respect themselves, they do not care to take care of their personal appearance. If on the other hand a person possesses an adequate supply of self-acceptance he will invariably dress commensurate with his vocation, environment and resources. High school and college students perpetuate their actual feelings of self-rejection by the way they dress. What they interpret to be a slam at the establishment is actually nothing more than a confession of their own feeling of
inadequacy and self-disapproval.
We should identify ourselves with our creator. This has a tendency to bring to us a sense of dignity and a sense of well being. We are told in the scripture, “glorify God in our body and our spirit”. This is not hard for a person who has a good self-respect to do.
C. AS GOD’S CHILD REFUSE TO LIVE WITH GUILT
It is a trick of Satan to saddle us with a great cloud of gloom because of minor blunders we may make during the course of a day. Most often our frustration is well out of proportion to the failure which we may have made.
It is only natural for people to feel guilty. They feel guilty because they are guilty. “We all have sinned and come short of the glory of God”. But there is a remedy for our guilt. “If we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us of our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness”. “The blood of Jesus Christ His son cleanses us from all sins”. One rendition of this same scripture states, “He keeps on cleansing us from our sin”.
There are times that a person begins to question why he has gone through most of the day under a cloud of gloom, As he traces the events of the day backward, he often comes to some minor infringement which occurred earlier in the day. Taken and analyzed in itself it doesn’t amount to much. Then why does he feel so low? It is the trick of Satan to cloud us with guilt. We need to learn
all over again that if God who is perfect, can forgive sins, certainly we can forgive ourselves. We need to confess and ask God’s forgiveness of a particular sin as soon as we commit it. Then we must rest assured that God has done just exactly what he said he would do. He has forgiven and forgotten. Then we should refuse to accept the dark feelings of guilt which Satan may improperly try to force upon us.
D. WE SHOULD RECOGNIZE GOD’S BLESSING UPON OUR LIVES
All of us have quite a few things going for us. It would be good for us to list on a sheet of paper all of the intangible spiritual assets which we have. God would not be displeased with us being honest
about them. For instance, you may have a sense of humor, you may be able to forgive easily and quickly, you may have the ability to grasp easily a particular subject, and you may have a natural compassion for people. All of these things and perhaps many more you have to your credit. You should realistically list those things. On another sheet of paper you should list perhaps five men who you feel like have succeeded. Going back over the list of assets you have made and compare them with the five people you have listed as successful, you may discover that several of the five people do not have some of the assets which you have listed for yourself. It would be well for you to ask yourself the question, “If these people succeeded without some of the assets which I
have, why can’t I believe I can succeed with these assets?”
E. ANTICIPATE THE FUTURE WITH JOY
There is much to look forward to. If you have failed you must learn not to resent yourself.
1. Accept yourself as you are.
2. Believe that you are capable of being better.
3. Keep your dignity in tact.
4. Have compassion on yourself.
We should be as fair to ourselves as we would be to someone else. If we would have compassion upon another, we should extend compassion to ourselves. We should give ourselves a chance for improvement. We should refuse to allow our mistakes to defeat us. We should be able to say to ourselves, “I am only human. I still like myself, etc.”, Thus we are searching for our better self.
You have a great future. Your attitude toward the future will help create it. We should greet each day with an attitude of expectation, eager to appropriate God’s blessing and provision, Many mornings when the garage door of the parsonage is lifted at 5:30 and I prepare to make my way to the early morning prayer, I greet the day with a spontaneous, “Good morning world! Thank you Jesus for a brand new day!”
It is great to enjoy the wonderful life which God has given to us. We should be an enjoyable person to be around.
Laugh a good deal of the time. Develop an acute ability to see and appreciate the humorous side of everything. The more fun you are, the less lonely you are bound to be, for people like happy
Live an abundant life. There are so many great and wonderful things about us. Have plenty of activity, plenty of interests, plenty of new experiences. Jesus Christ came so we all could have an abundant life.
Do not ever be awed by any other person or group of persons. Never copy anyone else. There is only one you, and that is you. So have respect for yourself as you are. You are not alone facing life, but you have a partner. “If God be for us who can be against us.”