If you've spent more than ten minutes talking with the average college girl, you probably have a sense of just how much our culture's self-esteem message has been prevalent in the way the women of today carry themselves. What is interesting is that the church has been very quick to embrace this movement without actually stopping to examine the roots of the concept; or perhaps, they have not truly grasped that the Christian life is all about Jesus Christ (not us), and thus they have no problem with welcoming in a self-focused message.
It's on the Christian radio station, it's in the books; many youth leaders embrace it, some pastors even preach it - so just what could be oh-so-wrong with promoting self-esteem? In a nutshell, self esteems says "I'm good enough," while the cross commands our eyes to Jesus, whose perfection exposes just how broken we really are. The only one good enough, according to God's Word, is Jesus Christ. I have fallen short, you have fallen short, everyone has fallen short - except Him.
Often, when we as women feel insecure, we're told we need more self-esteem. That's the whole root of the problem, right there! According to most counselors and therapists, we're told that being more focused on our strengths, accomplishments and "natural inner beauty" will cause insecurity to flee. If this is the case, why do we have so many women still melting under the weight of insecurity? Let's examine the answer to that question:
- Insecurity happens when our eyes are not fully fixed on Jesus Christ; self-esteem causes us to look more to ourselves, which either causes more insecurity or causes a self-obsessed pride.
- Self-esteem is all about you (and not at all about Jesus), and the more we look to ourselves, the more insecure we will become.
- Preaching about your strengths does not remove your weaknesses. But, when we bring each struggle before the Lord in prayer, we can trust that as we obey Him, He will be faithful to lead us in victory over sin (see 1 Corinthians 2:!4).
- Struggles with accepting the way God created you (the shape of your face, how tall you are, the color of your eyes, etc.) will not be defeated by telling yourself that you are perfect - as so many songs, books and blog posts of today are telling us. When we look in the mirror, we can do so without insecurity because we have submitted to his design, knowing that He has done exactly as He has seen fit; the eyes of our heart have to be on Him and not ourselves if we want insecurity out of the picture.
- Self-esteem tells us that we are sufficient in and of ourselves, when the truth is that we are nothing apart from Christ.
- Self-esteem encourages puffed up thoughts of this nature: "well, would you look at that gorgeous nose I have!", "Everyone is always telling me that my hair is just incredible." Then, when you get a pimple on your nose or have a bad hair day, all of a sudden, you're back at the same feeling of emptiness. This actually prolongs insecurity.
- Self-esteem can't satisfy your soul. Only God can do that: "For [God] satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things." Psalm 107:9 ESV
- Self-esteem is like a bad drug: initially, it takes away the pain, but then gives you more ramifications that you had before.
- To have self-esteem means to esteem yourself; this goes against the very essence of being a Christ follower: "In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus; who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; [but made himself of no reputation] by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death - even death on a cross!" Philippians 2:5-8 KJV
- Others are pointed to you, when they should be pointed to Jesus. This often leads other girls to feel insecure about themselves (we might as well call it the "insecurity merry-go-round").
- Your worth becomes all about what you have and haven't done.
- Your life becomes all about you.
- Self-esteem often encourages the cultivation of self-justifications in situations where you have sinned against another person. Have you ever heard people say: "Well, that was their fault, not mine," or "you know what, I'm human! I make mistakes," how about, "compared to how I used to be, I am doing great." Each of these statements are full of self-esteem, but not full of Christ-esteem.
- Gossip is encouraged. "She made me feel ____. And I just cannot believe she would do that!"
- Self-esteem almost always accepts stagnant struggling, and does not seek victory in Christ.
- Self-esteem calls us to embrace ourselves, while Jesus tells us directly that we must deny ourselves: "And he said to all, 'If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.'" Luke 9:23 ESV
Many girls think that the only way they will be free from insecurity is to put some "Miracle Grow" on their self-talk, and that will fix everything. I, too, bought into this cultural norm, at one time:
When I was younger, I was deeply insecure and couldn't figure out how to hammer out the intense pangs of anxiety and insecurity. I felt especially unstable whenever I was around a certain friend of mine. Hallie was about four years older than I was; she was well known for being one of the most mature girls around, and she had a deep love for Jesus. On top of that, she was stunningly beautiful - with her blonde flowing hair, and a gentle smile. Each time I would spend time with Hallie, I would go home and examine my face in the mirror; I didn't have her light brown freckles all over my face; my hair couldn't pull off such lovely curls.
There were days my mom would pick me up, after seeing this friend, when I would just cry the whole way home. "What's wrong, Cassiy?" I did not have an answer; technically everything was fine - Hallie had been encouraging and thoughtful as usual - but my mind was placed on how "perfect" she was, and how far I fell short.
I was desperate to find some way to feel better about myself, so I searched Google for some answers. I found loads of Christian articles with this idea - just esteem yourself more, and you'll feel better. "If you think other girls are better than you, then you need to grow your opinion of yourself to a healthier level." Hmm, this writer sounded like she knew what she was talking about, so I started implementing her advice. Whenever I looked in the mirror, I started lecturing myself with the self-esteem lines. Soon, a self-induced confidence started to grow. I hadn't realized how this was actually causing me to look inward, to myself and what I could do, instead of upward, to Jesus and what He had done. My mom noticed a change of behavior; self-grown confidence comes at a cost. I had become very prideful, and she graciously pointed out this problem.
After I came to terms with this issue, I felt baffled. Now what? I thought i had finally found an answer to my insecurity, but apparently this was only hurting others and myself more. I felt very stuck, but thankfully, Jesus was faithful to lead some good influences into my life who would lift my eyes to Him.
It was soon clear that heightening the opinion I had of myself was not addressing the true issue; I needed to run to Jesus for security, not look more to myself. Leslie Ludy has said it so well: "When we let self fade into the background and become consumed with Jesus Christ, our insecurities will melt away."  If I truly strive to lifet all eyes to Jesus Christ, then I will no longer carry the aching burden of constantly trying to make myself look good enough to others.
There must be a shift of focus in our souls; we must understand that we do not have anything beautiful or good in and of ourselves. His word makes this very clear:
"They have fallen away; together they have become corrupt, there is none who does good, not even one." Psalm 53:3 ESV
"I say to the Lord, 'You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you.'" Psalm 16:2 ESV
They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one." Psalm 14:3 ESV
Spurgeon continues this important thought:
"If any sould has any such beauty... Christ has endowed that beloved soul with all its wealth of charms, for in ourselves we are deformed and defiled... There is no beauty in any of us but what our Lord has worked in us."
True beauty comes from Jesus Christ, and the only way to destroy insecurity for good is to give your life completely over to Jesus. When we get stuck on ourselves, it's easy to feel hopeless, insecure, and stuck, but when our eyes are firmly set on Him, that is when we find true security!
Here's the secret the culture would never tell you about self-esteem: self-esteem cannot fix your insecurity struggles, only Jesus Christ can do that.
"Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee: because he trusteth in Thee." Isaiah 26:3 KJV
So, how am I going to fix the insecurity issues, then?
When you are tempted to entertain thoughts of insecurity, set your mind on God's Word. Try memorizing this passage or some others:
"And which of you, by being anxious, can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you." Matthew 6:27-33 ESV
Speak the truth in your heart
When "I am just not good enough..." flashes into your head, choose to place your thoughts on Jesus. It's true that we're not enough, but HE is. Paul speaks of this in 2 Corinthians:
"But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me." 2 Corinthians 12:9 NIV
Leave yourself reminders
I personally write verses and quotations down and put them up so I can have reminders throughout the day to put my eyes on Him. You can try using some index cards, and writing out a few Bible verses, or good quotations. Here are a few I love:
- "Only one life, t'will soon be past. Only what's done for Christ will last, and when I'm dying, how happy I'll be, if the lamp of my life is burned out for Thee." C.T. Studd
- "You are loved with an Everlasting Love; that's what the Bible says. And underneath are the Everlasting Arms." Elisabeth Elliot
- I think it is a mistake to say the purpose in life is to know ourselves and what we can do. Surely the purpose is to know God!" Florence Nightingale
- "Surrender your will absolutely and irrevocably to Jesus Christ." Oswald Chambers
- "For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, 'Fear not, I am the one who helps you.'" Isaiah 41:13 ESV
As you put Him first, a Christ-centered security will begin to replace insecure, anxious feelings. He longs for us to know Him better with each passing hour, and I cannot tell you how wonderful it has been in my life since I traded in unsatisfying self-esteem for looking up to His face. I run out of answers, abilities and strength, but He never does. Put your hope in Jesus, instead of yourself, and watch to see how He will strengthen your heart with His love. There's nothing like it!
 Leslie Ludy "Overcoming Insecurity: God's Surprising Solution" https://www.reviveourhearts.com/true-woman/blog/overcoming-insecurity-gods-surprising-solution/