Heart, you’ve led me astray, following your desires, chasing love where it cannot be found. So I’m giving up on you. I’m going to follow One who is faithful and who forgives. I’m tired of the disillusions you lead me to. It’s time to settle down for an illusion, a hope, that won’t disappoint.
Tag Archives: self esteem
No critic was severer of me than me.
Virtually friendless in high school, I lacked confidence and avoided the risks that would lead me to success. But through the years, I have fundamentally changed (though not totally). Here’s how:
1. Discover your unique giftings. Eventually I discovered that I did have strengths and gifts, though these were not appreciated by anyone or registered by any test designed to show strengths. This is a Biblical truth: God has NOT made person void of some talent.
Just like parts of a car, you can’t do without even one of them. The car will break down. Each part is critical to proper functioning. Through the years, I saw that I was no exception to this rule. I was valuable and realized God made me with special giftings for my special calling.
Critics may focus your deficiencies. They are blind to your abilities. Too much attention paid to other people can deflate your self-esteem.
2. Turn around the toxic environment wisely, as best you can. It’s downright discouraging being surrounded by people who drag you down. What can you do? Appeal to your family members to look at positives more than negatives.
I turned around the nay-saying non-family by repeating back to them what they were saying to me. When someone criticized me, I criticized me in the same way. And they were horrorized to hear my self-criticism. It was as if I raised up a mirror to their faces, and they saw how ugly it was what they were doing. They stopped.
3. Don’t try to be something you’re not. Accept yourself for who you are. If people don’t like the fact that I’m sensitive, that’s fine. I’m not going to pretend to be something different. If they don’t like it, then I’ll look for friend elsewhere. Find friends who appreciate you for what you are.
These lessons of life came to the surface with my recent participation in a basketball tournament at the school where I teach. Basketball is not my game, so I tried to get out of it. But my friend, Zach, really wanted me — because he’s a true friend, not because he wanted to win.
Would you believe we wound up winning the tournament. I didn’t believe I had talents for basketball but I used what I had, and Zach did the rest. I’m learning to be less of a self-critic.
As a Christian, I believe the chief work is done by Christ. But we Christians must do the work of focusing our thought life on positives. Maybe you’re surrounded by hounds who criticize. Maybe you need to cancel your EnvyBook account. It’s astonishing what a little Bible-reading and prayer can do to lift your spirits.
- Bible prayers
- Prayers for encouragement
- Faith to rise above
Fear of failure has a unimagined flip-side: the fear of success. The person who chokes because he’s afraid he’ll blow it comes under a cloud of doom. Ultimately in his decision-making, risk-avoidance becomes success-avoidance.
I know what I’m talking about. I have suffered from it. When I was the hardest-working, most experienced college reporter on the UCLA Daily Bruin, my editors handed me the opportunity of the lifetime, an investigative piece that would establish my reputation. I said I was too busy.
It’s better to risk humiliation and go out with a blaze than step to the sideline. But the nasty habit of self-brow-beating is no easy task for anyone who has wrestled with the low-self-esteem demon.
Here’s what’s helped me:
- Bible reading
- Church fellowship with encouraging saints
- Eating right
- Trying to learn patience
And this has hurt me:
- Competition among friends
- Envy and jealousy
- Church dysfunction
2 Cor. 10:5 says, we must bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ. For me, it is a struggle. I share these confessions in the hopes that others will be encouraged in similar fights. The enemy of our souls, the devil, wages war against our thoughts. Let’s pray for one another and support one another.
Better than throwing salt on his wounds, better than mocking him, better than washing your hands of him, better than saying “He had it coming,” express confidence to the person who’s floundering. It will lift him out of his funk.
Sir Alex Ferguson believed in Wayne Rooney. The Manchester United forward had gone 9 months without a goal. Pundits were sharpening their knives: wash-out, has-been, flash-in-the-pan. Coach Ferguson, who’s had an extraordinary knack for winning teams, kept believing in Rooney until the mercurial players found his winning ways again — with a overhead backwards kick that left the world gaping and shut up critics.
Believe in someone.
You may “win” the rat race, but you’re still only a rat. You may get to the top of the crab pile, but you’re still only a crab. If you help someone out, you’ve made a friend for life. And that is worth more than pounding your chest and shouting the tired I’m-the-best rant.
It’s what Jesus did. While everybody hated the odious, turncoat tax-collector Zacheus, Jesus dressed him with dignity, sharing a cappuccino with him. While accusers had stones in hand ready to hurl at the adulterous woman, Jesus defended her and didn’t accuse her. He touched the leper, ate with prostitutes, hung out with drunkards. Jesus was really into the business of accepting people.
Give and don’t stop giving. And though you may be the most unloved person on the planet, if you give love freely, you will find 10,000 people at your funeral wanting to honor your memory.
When I was kid, I felt sorry for myself intensely. When bigger kids pushed me around and my mom wouldn’t go out and make it right, I gloated on my woes. Self-pity has been an evil that has plagued me even up to the present.
The good thing is that she has a twin called Compassion. As with many “evils,” you can flip them and make them good. When I took aptitude tests in high school, I scored low or average on everything — but they didn’t even measure the deep well of gifting God had given me. Compassion and empathy have driven years of successful ministry. Feeling others’ pain keeps me in prayer.
Self-aggrandizement is a wicked
motivation to get in ministry. The only true calling is serving others. Consider the contrast: Jesus reflects on the hungry multitudes, “I have compassion on them.” The disciples reflect harsh realities, “And where are we gonna get the money to feed them???” (Matt 15 32 – 39).
Are you more like Christ or his disciples? The case is all the worse if you realize the disciples HAD the money to buy enough food (Luke 8:3) — they just were selfish! Compassionlessness is ugly.
So if you suffer from self-pity, don’t despair. Just turn your eyes outward, and you’ll become a marvelously effective servant of God/ of humanity!
Just ask George Washington. He lost seven successive battles but won the war. He was voted president of the newly formed United States of America. His revolution inspired freedom movements among colonies in both Americas (North and South).
Did he kick himself for mucking up when he became famous for retreating? Did he grovel with feelings of inadequacy? I don’t know. What I do know is that he continued fighting until he won. Place no time limits on God. If things don’t work out well now, they may later. Don’t despair, just keep plugging away!
Every time you fail, you’re one step closer to the formula of success!