Help Me Understand: Self-Esteem


Sometimes I find myself wondering how God could possibly use someone like me. I don't have many skills, my looks are nothing special, and I'm definitely not the sharpest tool in the shed. There doesn't seem much point in trying to get involved.

Everyone at church is more spiritual than I am and way more talented in every gifting area. I still struggle with the same sins I've fought against for years. When will my battle be over? When will I be ready to serve the Lord?

When I look at how many poor choices and bad decisions I've made…well, there isn't much hope for me, is there? I wouldn't be surprised if God decided to punish me for my mistakes instead of forgive me. It's the least I deserve for being such a failure.


The regard with which we view ourselves is called our self-esteem. It is our mental self-perception. We develop this perception throughout our lives as it springs from our nature, is cultivated by our nurture, and fleshed out and expressed in our experiences. Self-esteem is tied to our sense of belonging, our sense of worth, and sense of accomplishment.

Our problem is that sin affects every part of our being including our mental perceptions. The result is a distorted, false view of ourselves, others, and God. And since self-esteem often drives our behaviour, a distorted viewpoint will lead to sinful actions.


God's answer to our problem is to provide His Word for truth and knowledge about Himself and His actions toward us. His Word also provides us with truth and knowledge about who we are. Our new self-perception begins with a new birth into a new family. We are a new creation in Christ with a new identity. We are given a new mind—the mind of Christ—so we can see God as He is and see ourselves in proper relation to Him. At the heart of a proper self-esteem is a proper recognition of this new position in Christ. The Spirit of God in us teaches us the truth of who we are in Christ as we grow in the knowledge of God's Word. In learning these truths we can then go on to behave in a way consistent with who we are.

He provides:

Salvation — Coming to a saving knowledge of Jesus is the beginning of a renewed mind that can know God and ourselves in truth (John 17:3). He provides us with a new identity as His child and friend (John 1:12).

Security — Once we know Jesus we can never be condemned or separated from God (Romans 8:28-39). We are untouchable to the evil one (1 John 5:18).

Significance — The Lord makes us significant by making us co-workers with Him in His plan of eternal salvation. We are His workmanship (Ephesians 2:10) directed to bear fruit (John 15:16) and bear witness to Christ (Acts 1:8), ministering reconciliation for God (2 Corinthians 5:17-21).


Begin with accepting God's view that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). You are a sinner who does not see yourself truthfully as God sees you. Admit this and ask Christ to forgive you, and to come into your life, making you a new creation and His child.

Then begin to humbly renew your mind according to the truth of God's Word (Romans 12:1-2). Study it. Your perception of yourself will change as the truths of who you are in Christ sink in and take hold in your heart.

Learn humility. It is essential because a humble person sees oneself and God truthfully—that is, from a biblical perspective. Pride is a distorted view, seeing ourselves out of proportion to God and therefore also seeing others in a distorted way. The flip side of pride is low self-esteem, since it too is an inverted distortion of how we see ourselves in relation to God and others.