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Self-Esteem Gone Haywire

Compare this news about teens and their inflated self-esteem to Jean’s post A four year old who knows she needs a saviour! {Link no longer available} Which do you think is child abuse? Giving a false sense of accomplishment or teaching them the truth according to Scripture?

U.S. Teens Brimming With Self-Esteem

“These kids didn’t raise themselves, they got these ideas from somewhere,” Twenge said. With Mom and Dad handing out endless praise, kids today readily believe they are somehow superior, she said. And teachers aren’t blameless, either: According to Twenge, research shows that high school teachers now give out an “A” grade more easily than their counterparts did in the 1970s, even though today’s high school students report doing less homework than students from that era.

They Like Themselves – Albert Mohler {Link no longer available}

All this reminds me of Garrison Keillor’s fictional community of Lake Woebegon, where all of the kids are “above average.” That simply isn’t possible, but there is good reason to believe that many current parenting strategies imply that it is.

In recent years, some observers have warned that children are not well served when parents lavish them with inordinate praise or with unrealistic assessments. The culture of earned recognition has given way to sports teams that award a trophy to every player and to contests in which every participant wins.

Generation-too-big-for-their-britches? {Link no longer available}

So, let me get this straight: If we don’t want to raise selfish, narcissistic, all-about-me children who will likely grow up to become selfish, narcissistic, all-about-me adults, then we’d be wise to employ more “authoritative parenting” and “less indulgence.” As I thought more about the author’s conclusion that parents and teachers are to blame for this emerging crop of over-confident teens, I must say that I wholeheartedly agree.


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Perils of Pride #11: Good Pride?

Galatians 6:3-5

3 If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself.
4 Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else,
5 for each one should carry his own load
. (NIV)

Is there such as thing as good pride? When we consider the verses given above, particularly verse 4, it appears that the Apostle Paul is saying that it is o.k. to have pride in yourself if you have tested your own actions and if you are not comparing yourself or deceiving yourself. Does this stand up to the scrutiny of the rest of scriptures, or is it an apparent contradiction?

Here is another example. It is found in James 1:9-10.

9 The brother in humble circumstances ought to take pride in his high position.
10 But the one who is rich should take pride in his low position, because he will pass away like a wild flower
. (NIV)

Should I have pride in the fact that I am humble, or pride in the fact that I will be humbled? As I stated in an earlier post, humility is the only thing that vanishes once it is mentioned.

We see the Apostle Paul mention his own pride in a positive light several times in his epistles. Here is an example from 2 Corinthians 7:4 “I have great confidence in you; I take great pride in you. I am greatly encouraged; in all our troubles my joy knows no bounds.” (NIV) Was the Apostle Paul sinning when he took pride in the church at Corinth, or is there some positive aspect of pride that runs counter to our belief that the scripture condemns pride in man?

The quandary regarding so-called “good pride” is really very easy to set straight. It all depends on your definition of the word “pride.” When the words “pride” or “proud” are used in a negative sense in the New Testament, it is usually the Greek word “phusioo”, which means “to be puffed up”. However, when the words “pride” or “proud” are used in a positive sense, it is the Greek word “kauchaomai”, which means “to rejoice.” In all the examples given above of apparently positive instances of pride, the word is always “kauchaomai.” In fact, you can read each of the verses above and substitute in the word “rejoice” for the words “take pride” and you will find that you get a much better sense of what the verse really means. However, in verses where pride is used in a negative sense, you cannot do this. Take for instance the familiar verse from the “Love Chapter”, 1 Corinthians 13:4 “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.” (NIV) Here the word translated “proud” is the Greek word “phusioo”. You cannot substitute the word “rejoice” into this verse and have it make any sense whatsoever.

So is there a lesson to be learned from our discovery that there really is no such thing as “good pride”? I think there are three lessons we need to learn.

First, we need to learn that it is not enough to just read the scriptures and call it Bible study. We need to learn to dig into the scriptures and pull out the intended meaning of the original authors. We should not trust any translation of the Bible to accurately translate every word in a way that we can readily understand its meaning. Obviously, the word “pride” had a different meaning to the translators of the New International Version than it does to me.

Second, we need to learn that there are no contradictions in the Bible. The matter of “good pride” is just one of the examples of contradiction in the Bible that is easily explainable when we take the time to look at the issue in depth.

Third, there is no lipstick that you can put on the pig of pride to make it look better. The idea of “good pride” runs contrary to the integrated message of the Bible. The Bible condemns pride universally. An attempts to disguise pride by calling it “self-esteem” or “good pride” is nothing more than trying to put lipstick on a pig.

By Berean Husband

Perils of Pride #10: Self-Esteem: Pride’s First Cousin

I was baptized and became a member of a church in 1976 when I was in the fourth grade. But it was not until 1990 that I became a Christian. I distinctly recall, even to this day, the morning I was driving my car on my way to work, when God confronted me. His message was this: “You are wasting your life.” Now I see that this was God’s way of telling me I was a sinner and needed to repent and be saved. The first thing I did was to tune my car radio away from the rock-and-roll station to which I had been listening over to a Christian radio station. It was on that day that I was introduced to David Jeremiah, James Dobson, and Larry Burkett. I attribute these three men to putting me on track spiritually, in my family, and in my finances. David Jeremiah taught me to love the Word of God, James Dobson and “Focus on the Family” may well have saved my marriage, and Larry Burkett made it possible for me to see the pit of debt I was in and he also showed me that my wife needed to be a stay-at-home mom. 1991 and 1992 were two great years and also terrible years. I learned a lot about being a Christian in 1991 and 1992, but they were also years that I paid the price for many bad decisions. The morning my wife and I put our firstborn six week old baby in daycare, so my wife could go to work because of our debt, was one of the worst days of my life. It took the entire year of 1992 to set things right.

I share this bit of my personal testimony in order to get to this point. One of the first books that I read by James Dobson was “What Wives Wish Their Husbands Knew about Women.” I recall that the basis of this book was surveys that Dobson conducted on the sources of depression in women as he spoke at conferences across the United States. The top source of depression among women cited in Dobson’s book was low self-esteem. Dobson’s arguments for the need for self-esteem among women made sense to me back then. I found that self-esteem was a theme for Dobson. Not only did women suffer from low self-esteem, but so did children. It seemed to me that Dr. Dobson’s prescription for everyone was a good dose of healthy self-esteem.

Unfortunately, I believe that we have turned self-esteem in modern-day American idol. I looked up the word “self-esteem” in Webster’s Dictionary and found these definitions: “a just opinion of oneself”; “an overestimate of oneself”; “conceit.” I think what has happened in America is that well-meaning mentors have told us we need to have self-esteem according to the first definition – “a just opinion of oneself.” However, we Americans heard this message as the latter two definitions – “an overestimate of oneself”; “conceit.” Just glancing through a website with a page dedicated to self-esteem quotes will verify that my supposition is true. I could have spent the next hour cutting and pasting quotes on self-esteem into this post to show that the notion of self-esteem we have in America today is in direct contradiction to the Word of God. I will suffice it to give only my “favorite” quote. This is from Golda Meir, a former Prime Minister of Israel.

Trust yourself. Create the kind of self that you will be happy to live with all your life. Make the most of yourself by fanning the tiny, inner sparks of possibility into flames of achievement.”

When I read this quote, I read “Believe that you are a god unto yourself.” The message of self-esteem we hear today is nothing but the message of pride inside a different wrapping paper.

So what is proper self-esteem? Can we have a proper self-esteem? I believe that the answer to this question is “Yes.” The Bible tells us in Romans 12:3 “For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.” (NIV) How should we think about ourselves? We do not need to turn to the world to answer this question. Psychology cannot answer this question. Self-help books cannot answer this question. Neither Dr. Phil, Dr. Laura. Dr. Ruth, or Dr. Spock have the answer to this question. And Joel Osteen definitely does not have the answer to this question. Everything we need to know about ourselves can be found in the Bible, in the very Word of God. And when we take the Bible as a whole, we can have a right view of self-esteem. How should we think about ourselves? I call this “the good, the bad, the ugly, and the beautiful.”

First, the good.

You were created in the image of God. Genesis 1:27 “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” (NIV)

You were fearfully and wonderfully made. Psalm 139:13-14 “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” (NIV)

God knew you before you were ever made. Jeremiah 1:5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” (NIV)

God has a plan for you. Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (NIV)

But now for the bad.

Because of sin, the image of God created in you has been corrupted. Genesis 6:5-6 “The Lord saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time. The Lord was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain.” (NIV)

Nothing that we do is pleasing to God. Isaiah 64:6 “All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.” (NIV)

There is nothing good in us. Romans 3:10-11 “As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God.” (NIV)

But it gets worse. Here is the ugly.

We are all sinners before God. Romans 3:23 “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (NIV)

We deserve nothing but death because of our sins. Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death” (NIV)

We should be separated from God forever because of our sins. Galatians 5:19-21 “The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.” (NIV)

We deserve to spend eternity in hell because of our sins. Revelation 21:8 “But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars — their place will be in the fiery lake
of burning sulfur. This is the second death
.” (NIV)

But for all those who have been called by God, those who Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior, there remains the beautiful.

Even though you are a sinner, Jesus Christ died for you. Romans 5:8 “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (NIV)

Jesus Christ died for you because of his great love for you, enough to call you his friend. John 15:13-14 “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command.” (NIV)

We are no longer alienated from God because of our sin. We are, in fact, the children of God. John 1:12-13 “Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” (NIV)

Because we are the children of God, we are also heirs of all the riches of God. Romans 8:16-17 “The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs — heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.” (NIV)

And finally, we can look forward to the day when we will be re-created in the image of God. We close with a chance to meditate on these verses found in 1 Corinthians 15:51-57.

51 Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed—
52 in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.
53 For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality.
54 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”
55 “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”
56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.
57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ
. (NIV)

By Berean Husband