“A person without self-control is like a house with its doors and windows knocked out.” Proverbs 25:28 MSG
I am old enough to remember when Elementary or Primary School was focussed on the Three “R”s of Reading, ‘Riting, and ‘Rithemetic. Every day was spent in pursuit of vocabulary, fluency, legibility and numeracy. My grandchildren find it quaint and amazing that I can perform calculations in my head that have them immediately reaching for a calculator; but of course almost every child of my generation could perform the same feat. It is not due to superior intellect but rather because of a teaching style that emphasized these skills.
I said that “almost every child of my generation” has (or had) these skills, but of course, that is a generalization that doesn’t stand scrutiny. In my generation there were still the slow learners, the dyslexic readers, those with speech difficulties and those who couldn’t perform addition without the aid of fingers. These kids got “special” help, but often they were taken out of class to meet with a different teacher who specialized in helping them. Children are amongst the most cruel commentators on the planet and often this led to the “special” kids being marginalized and not well socialized with low self-esteem leading to a self-fulfilling prophecy of their lowered prospects in life.
For a time the pendulum swung far the other way and “self esteem” became the primary purpose of education often at the expense of the skills that were previously taught. It is a conundrum of educational policy to get the balance right so that those who need help are helped with dignity, and those who don’t are not held back in their progress. As you are reading this may I suggest you give thanks for the teacher(s) who made it possible for you to do so!
The Scriptures have much to say about self-esteem or what we think of our self worth.
At the most basic level every human being has inestimable value:
“You are not your own; you were bought at a price.” 1Corinthians 6:19-20 NIV,
and that price was the sacrifice of God Himself! Every life is one for whom Jesus died. There can be nothing of higher value!
When you interact with another person you are dealing with a priceless jewel in God’s treasure chest, and so are you! Any suggestion of worthlessness comes direct from the mouth of Satan and, as usual, is a bald-faced lie! I never hesitate to tell people that I am God’s favorite, and I truly believe it! Don’t worry, I didn’t say I was his exclusive favorite, so you are in the club too!
From such a lofty position of privilege it would be easy to look down on those who haven’t yet appreciated their own value or are involved in a different part of God’s long-term plan. Such was the growing problem in the church Paul had planted in Rome and he wrote this advice to them:
“Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.” Romans 12:3 NIV
So once again we have a delicate balancing act, valuing ourselves and building up the value of others. A few verses further on, Paul gives this advice to the Roman Church:
“Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.” Romans 12:10 NIV
Yet another paradox of being a Jesus follower: if you want to live up to your personal self worth, value others first!
As C.S. Lewis says: “Christianity is not about thinking less of yourself, it’s about thinking of yourself less.”
Or, to quote William Booth’s famous telegram: “Others!” It’s what Jesus did, and we’re his followers are we not?
Blessings on you and yours, Jim Black