Self-Esteem and our Kids

“You are a child of the Lord God Almighty; the apple of God’s eye; the Holy Spirit lives in you and Jesus loves you more than you can imagine. You have been chosen to inherit the Kingdom.”

It’s hard to imagine a child with this knowledge having an esteem problem. My mom used to tell us constantly that “We are all God’s children.” That was all I needed to get through life’s up and downs. Knowing I was a beloved creature of God helped me bounce back from not winning a spot on the baseball team. I shrugged off the fact I couldn’t draw as well as most of the other kids in my class. It didn’t matter to me that our house wasn’t as big or as new as the others in my neighborhood. At the end of the day, I was still as special as anyone else.

Highly trained child psychologists and educators spend a lot of time talking about self-esteem. Surely, it is an important tool in our life arsenal. Positive self-esteem makes it easier to trust in yourself, believe in yourself, and to push yourself to greater heights. A renowned psychologist recently wrote that “Faith in yourself is the most important thing in life.”

Anybody else have a problem with that?

Now I’m a pretty confident guy, but the source of my confidence comes from knowing God is with me. I am sure He will protect me and help me recover from any mistakes I make along the way. Indeed, when I fell off the path and found myself wandering in the wilderness for a while, it was a reminder that God loves me that turned me back around. Trusting God and giving Him credit for all I have and accomplish is all I can do.

Jesus gave us the parable of the Pharisee and the Publican (Luke 18:9-14) to demonstrate this premise. The Pharisee had faith in himself. He thanked God that he was not like others, sinners all, and reflected on how he tithed and fasted. Meanwhile, the publican (a tax collector) asked God to have mercy on him. He recognized that he needed God’s help and was not doing anything on his own. For this reason, Jesus tells us the publican is justified before God; but the Pharisee who seeks to be exalted will instead be humbled.

Why then are we trying to raise another generation of Pharisees? Why do we stress the importance of not just playing a game, but making the travel team? Why do we sue teachers when our kids earn lesser grades? Why are volunteer coaches threatened when our child doesn’t get to play? Why do we insist our kids have the latest phone or gadget or dress in the latest style? Why do we teach our kids to tell everyone how great they are?

We know God has gifted each one of us with different talents. We also know that they are not so obvious at times. Yet we insist on trying to define what our child’s talent is. God reveals our talents at the perfect time. Teach the children to trust in Him. When their time comes to shine, they will. Meanwhile, knowing God has a plan for us allows us to continue through this life confidently and courageously.

Of course, some may consider this unpatriotic. The American Way dictates that we push and challenge and conquer everything. We must be all that we can be! So we strive to fill our kids with confidence. We encourage them to be stronger and better at everything they do. We deride and destroy anyone who tries to cut them down a peg. We want positive self-esteem to be oozing out of their pores when they walk down the street.

And when all is said and done, the meek shall inherit the earth.

Positive self-esteem is an important thing; but the esteem has to come from knowing who we are, not what we can do. We are children of God. We are forgiven, justified and saved. Who can throw a ball farther or write the best blogs just doesn’t matter after that.

 

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