Ronald E. Harper

I was talking to a youth pastor one night after a youth meeting which was held at our church. I asked him what he thought would be the most important issue in dealing with today’s youth. His answer surprised me. However, after some consideration, I had to agree with his assessment. The root, cause, and effect of most problems with young men today is their self-esteem.

Too many times, we deal with the effects of this issue rather than dealing with the true core issue. This is about the same as weeding a garden by trimming the little flower from the top of the weed. We need to get down to the root.

Self-esteem should be taught at home first. Parents should love and encourage their children. Second, it should be reinforced in the church. Every young man is valuable to God. All are loved by their Creator.

What is meant by self-esteem? According to the Merriam Webster Dictionary, self-esteem is defined as “a confidence and satisfaction in oneself.” Good self-esteem comes from really knowing what qualities you have and what skills you have on which you can rely. It comes from setting realistic, achievable goals and knowing that you can reach them, rather than trying to be perfect or to do everything well.

However, self-esteem should never be taken to the point of self-conceit. “Let nothing be done through strife or vain glory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves” (Philippians 2:3). Look at the verse again carefully. The phrase “lowliness of mind” refers to meekness. This does not tell us that we are to be subservient, with no worth. One of the functions of a Christian, according to Jesus, is to serve our fellow Christians. “And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all. For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:44-45).

I guess that a good way to illustrate self-esteem in the biblical context would be with a screwdriver. A screwdriver is designed by the manufacturer to drive screws. It will stand up to the tests, as long as it is being used for the purpose for which it was made. Low self-esteem is like the screwdriver that never drives a screw because it doesn’t think that it can. God is your designer. He knows just how much you are capable of handling.

In contrast, conceit is similar to using a screwdriver as a pry bar. It can break under the pressure. You are God’s creation. The only thing you will ever be is all that God has designed you to be. However, you should never try to exceed the limits of your capacity.

You should desire to reach your fullest potential. Take yourself off the shelf. Put yourself in the hand of God. Let God use you in the purpose for which you were created.

We should not strive to reach for worldly wealth and fame. “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matthew 6:19-21).

Too many people have sold out to Satan by compromising their beliefs. They may have wanted more popularity, money, or fame. Look at the men and women in the entertainment industry. Most of them are wealthy. They are famous. They are popular, for a while. However, just watch the magazines. Some of them go into drug rehab. Most of their marriages seem to fail. They are living and dying in immoral lifestyles. If wealth and fame could make one happy, why do they suffer from so many nervous breakdowns? Why do they try to drown their pains in alcohol and drugs?

Youth leaders should stress some of these points in group discussions, and hopefully, every reader will learn these things. Young man, it does not matter if anything else sticks with you. Learn these facts.

1. God created you with the sole purpose of wanting to spend time in fellowship with you.
2. He loved you enough that He put on a robe of flesh and came to earth to die for your sins.
3. He went back to heaven to prepare a place for you, so He can spend all of eternity with you. You are loved.
4. Jesus even spent time praying for you in John 17:20. “Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word.” If you are an apostolic believer, Jesus loved you enough to pray for you.

What are some of the effects of a low self-esteem? If a person has a low self-esteem, they are more likely to commit suicide. They are more likely to yield to peer pressure, just to feel like they fit in. Alcoholism and drug abuse can result from a low self-esteem. A person may seek some type of esteem from sexual immorality. The problem of trying to find fulfillment in the world is none of these sinful activities will ever satisfy your hunger. I can speak from experience. There is pleasure in sin, according to Hebrew 11:25. However, it is only for a short time. The end result of finding pleasure and self-worth in sinful activity will be heartache, pain, addictions, disease, and eventually death. According to Romans 6:23, the final payment for a sinful life is death. “Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore” (Psalm 16:11). As the old song says, “Only Jesus Can Satisfy Your Soul.”

If you try to achieve your self-worth from external things, you will ultimately fail. The resulting failure will cause more feelings of inadequacy. If we continually rely on other people to make us feel good, then we need ever increasing doses of praise from others to keep us going. Without a firm foundation of your own view of self-worth, then your self-esteem can be destroyed quickly and easily. There will also be a tendency to blame something or someone other than yourself when your self-esteem is knocked down.

In conclusion, real self-esteem comes from knowing your strengths and even accepting your limitations. Submit yourself to the will of God. Bloom where you are planted. Know where you shine, and put yourself in those situations as often as possible.

The above article, “Self-Esteem” was written by Ronald E. Harper. The article was excerpted from Harper’s book Preparing The Next Generation Sound Doctrine For Young Men.

The material is copyrighted and should not be reprinted under any other name or author. However, this material may be freely used for personal study or research purposes.