Imagine you’re meeting a friend for coffee and she says, “My self-esteem has never been lower. My career is going backwards, I’m not happy about how I look, and the more I think about myself, the more depressed I get.” How would you respond?
Our natural tendency would be to try “inflate” her deflated self-esteem. After some positive affirmations, you might even say, “Forget what other people think. It’s about what you think that counts.”
She’s put herself on trial and you try to come to her defense. “You’ve got a great case for high self-esteem. Here’s why…” Or, you try to move her to the judge’s seat. “Just judge yourself.”
Now, contrast that with this perspective:
I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court. I don’t even judge myself. 4 I don’t feel I have done anything wrong. But that doesn’t mean I’m not guilty. The Lord judges me. -1 Corinthians 4:3-4
He’s saying that you don’t belong on trial or in the judge’s seat. How great would it be to get to such a place!?
“My mind isn’t occupied with how people judge me. My mind isn’t even occupied with how I judge myself. I’m not avoiding something, my conscience is clear. It’s just not about me. God is my judge and he set me free!”
Here’s a sure sign that you’re growing in grace:
You’re not easily offended.
You don’t take yourself too seriously.
Everything doesn’t come back to you.
Have you ever noticed that when you’re around a truly humble person you don’t think, “Wow, he’s humble!” What you notice is that he’s genuinely interested in you. He’s not self-deprecating, he’s self-effacing. It’s not that he plays small or thinks less of himself, he simply thinks of himself less. He’s free to be truly present with you.
There’s a scripture that’s always fascinated me about this posture of humility.
“Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.” -Romans 12:15
Humility is the prerequisite for this posture with people. A self-obsessed person can’t do this- when you rejoice, he compares what he has and measures himself against your accomplishment. When you mourn, he thinks, “Woo, glad I’m not in his shoes!”
Paul reached a point in life where he was free from the approval and condemnation of people, which allowed him to truly serve and lead them.
The problem with self-esteem is that everyday you’re in court. You have the prosecution and the defense. You may be prideful one day, depressed the next. Just depends on how the jury is trending at the moment.
Paul’s secret is that he knew the trial was over. He was out of the courtroom and able to serve Jesus and be fully present to people.
How about you?