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Posts Tagged ‘Self-Esteem’

Years ago my mother worked as secretary to a publishing company vice-president.  One spring she was invited to attend a goal-setting retreat with those in leadership. Her job was to take notes.

 

 

During the first session, the facilitator (We’ll call him Jim.) included some clarifying questions about the mission of the company.   Mom didn’t expect to participate, so she was caught off guard when Jim invited her to share. She confessed to feeling out of place and unqualified to contribute. After all, she was only a secretary.

But editor-in-chief, Bernice, exclaimed, “Why, Geri! You shouldn’t feel that way!”

Jim suggested that Bernice tell Mom why her input was important, why she was a valuable part of the team.

 

(A-Z Quotes)

 

Perhaps Bernice mentioned a few of the gifts I noticed in Mom: her creative problem-solving ability, astute interpersonal skills, and proficiency at organization.

Whatever Bernice said, the compliments embarrassed Mom but validated her deeply. Bernice had never before shared what she saw in Mom.

Jim explained that citing specific reasons, rather than simply telling someone not to feel a certain way, can more effectively foster a change of mindset.

So in light of that facilitator’s advice, I won’t tell you that God thinks you’re pretty terrific.

Let me show you from his Word what he sees in you.

For example:

God sees you as precious and honored because he loves you.

 

 

That love is not just collective for all humankind, but individual and unique—just for you.

God sees and loves you—the one who handles a myriad of details so someone else can be in the spotlight.

He sees and loves you—the one who swipes up messes hither and yon, parades laundry baskets to and fro, and traipses dishes from washer to shelf, day in and day out.

He sees and loves you—making those calls, writing those notes, pausing to listen to sales clerks and restaurant servers.

But on any given day, you may not feel particularly precious or honored—when frustration boils over into unkind words, impatience leads to anger, or unfair treatment curdles into self-pity. How can God see anything precious and honored in that?  Perhaps it’s because he’s focused on his vision for you, his work in you.

Remember,

God sees you as his child.

 

 

And like any loving parent, he delights in every step of growth, every benchmark of progress. With pleasure and pride he is cheering you on.

Also,

God sees your heart.

 

 

Perhaps that statement evokes guilt, as it did in me for many years. I contemplated the ways I disappointed God, even failed him. But there’s a positive side to that statement. Our Heavenly Father sees our good intentions, our desire to obey him, our attempts to practice his presence with praise and gratitude.

And just as we would never reject a misspelled, wobbly-lettered love note from a child, God never rejects our sincere efforts.

Furthermore,

God sees you as his masterpiece, a stunning, one-of-a-kind design (Ephesians 2:10).

 

 

He chose the colors of your personality, the form of your life-chapters, the line of movement from child to maturity, and the spaces both negative and positive that contribute to soul growth.

God also chose a particular place for you in his world-size gallery where you could best display his artistry. And like all beautiful handiwork, you evoke joy in the heart of your Maker.

 

 

Indeed, it is holy, precious perfection that God sees in you.

 

 

(Photo credits:  http://www.hanscom.af.mil (Todd Maki); http://www.azquotes.com; Nancy Ruegg; http://www.dailyverses.net; http://www.heartlight.org; http://www.flickr.com.)

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(Steve and I are enjoying time with family this week.  I’ll return soon with  new posts.  Meanwhile, I’ll reblog previous ones.  Hopefully you’ll find them meaningful again, or perhaps for the first time.  The following post was first published June 13, 2013.)

From stage left, she crosses the platform in confident strides.  One hand waves in sweeping arcs to the large audience. The crowd claps and cheers.

In the other hand, with confident ease, she holds the microphone.  And the smile—big and broad, bright white teeth visible even from the balcony.

Able to sing like a nightingale and articulate truth with conviction. Impacting thousands.

Now there is someone God is using in a powerful way, whispers an accusing voice.  Look at her significant contribution in the Kingdom of God. No doubt she’s highly valuable to him.  So what are you doing that’s important?  Your spot in the scheme of things is nothing compared to that shining star on the stage.  You might as well face the truth:  You are unimportant.  The ship of Significance has passed you by.

Sound the least bit familiar? You’re not alone. Demons use those same lies on a lot of us. Evil spirits aren’t very creative, are they?

But here’s the truth of the matter:

Each of us is the workmanship of God (Ephesians 2:10). The Greek word, workmanship, sometimes has the connotation of “work of art.” You are a work of art—carefully designed and meticulously executed.

The verse goes on to explain we’ve been created to do good works. It does not say the same work. Diversity of personality, talent, and interest are necessary among the children of God in order that all his plans are accomplished.

He made each of us unique, to fulfill a personalized plan. Every now and then we see such a plan unfold so clearly, we know God engineered the circumstances. Sometimes it’s a unique set of talents or gifts that work together sublimely to meet a need.

Take, for example, the naturally talented writer, who happened to grow up in a bilingual home, and studied Christian Education in college. She was especially prepared by God to write Spanish curriculum for a Christian publishing company.

Other times the plan is much less obvious, and we must trust that the task before us–caring for our families, teaching that Sunday School class, working at the homeless shelter–is indeed accomplishing divine purpose.

What we can know for certain:  each of us is valuable to God (Matthew  10:29-31).

Believe that he has prepared in advance good works for you to do (Ephesians 2:10).  Take joy and satisfaction from completing those good works.

It may not be walking across a stage with a microphone. It might mean walking across the kitchen with a rolling pin—to bake cookies for the neighbors.

That’s just a small, insignificant thing, you say?

Think about this: What if God takes particular pleasure in small things?

Personally, I’m fascinated by small things. Miniatures, doll houses, petit-point, babies!

Scripture gives us indication that God does indeed love small things as well:

Sparrows (Matthew 10:29-31).

Two little mites given by a widow (Mark 12:41-44).

Five small barley loaves and two small fish (John 6:1-13).

Bethlehem (Micah 5:2).

Let’s never again allow those little demons of abasement to put us down. God has promised: “I will bless those who fear the Lord—small and great alike” (Psalm 115:13, emphasis added).

You see, in God’s sight, we’re of equal worth.

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Steve came into the kitchen carrying a lovely rose, its dewy petals just beginning to open.  Delicate baby’s breath surrounded the bloom; emerald-green tissue and a red satin bow created a fitting frame.

He passed the rose to me with love in his eyes and a sweet smile on his face.

I took the rose and threw it on the floor.

What?! you say. How could you do such a thing?

The truth is, I didn’t. I made that up. Not the part about Steve bringing me roses. He has surprised me with flowers numerous times over the years. I made up the part about taking a rose from him and throwing it on the floor.

That would be terribly rude, wouldn’t it. But the scenario described above does provide an allegory for the way we sometimes accept verbal gifts–occasions when we’ve treated kind words as trash:

who-me

“Who, me? Oh, no. Not really. So-and-So is much better at __________ than I am.”

“You liked what I said? You must not have been listening very carefully!”

“I can’t believe you actually liked it. I thought it was terrible.”

Compliments are like roses, offered in an effort to bring a smile, provide good cheer, express appreciation and encouragement. When we discount them, it’s as if we’re throwing these verbal gifts on the floor. The compliment-giver feels put down, awkward, and lacking in good taste.

You may be thinking: Wait a minute.  As Christians, aren’t we supposed to be humble? Accepting compliments seems so prideful.

Not if you view positive remarks as declarations of God’s glory, as it’s reflected through you. Not when you consider that denying sincere, truthful compliments detracts from God’s glory.

So how can Christians accept compliments with grace? Here are several possibilities:

thank-you

  1. Simply say “thank you” and give the glory–the credit–to God. He is the one who gave you the ability to accomplish the task for which you are being praised. Pass the compliment on to God.
  1. Consider the compliment as encouragement. God is at work in you and he’s using you to minister to others. Thank the person for their kind words, and praise God for the opportunity to be used for his purpose, in ways that bless others.
  1. God often uses his people as agents for his encouragement. It’s possible those kind words are coming straight from God’s heart to yours. Take joy in the blessing.
  1. A gracious “thank-you-so-much-for-your-kind-words” will prompt the compliment-giver to continue offering encouragement to others.   Wise King Solomon compared inspiring/supportive words to gold (Proverbs 25:11). That’s how valuable they are.

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  1. If others were involved in your achievement, be sure to give them credit. Sharing the glory will increase the pleasure of the compliment.
  1. Later, when the kind words come to mind again, whisper a prayer.  For example:

“Heavenly Father, thank you for blessing my effort and touching that woman’s heart. What an honor to be used by you to minister to her.”

Turn compliments into praise and they won’t turn into pride.

 

(Photo & art credits:  www.flickr.com; http://www.handmaidcraftday.com; http://www.pinterest.com; http://www.wimempowerment.org.)

 

 

 

 

 

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His name keeps popping up in books and blog posts: Andrew Murray.

His words are thought-provoking:

  • “Never try to arouse faith from within. You cannot stir up faith from the depths of your heart. Leave your heart, and look into the face of Christ.”
  • “Abiding fully means praying much.”
  • “Just as water ever seeks and fills the lowest place, so the moment God finds you abased and empty, His glory and power flow in.”

So who was this deeply thoughtful man, Andrew Murray(1828-1917)? Did his conversion experience turn him around 180 degrees like Paul’s? Did he face great danger like David or Daniel? Did he impact throngs of people with his preaching like Jonah or John the Baptist?

 

andrew_murray-gif

 

 

No. According to the Christian Classics Ethereal Library (www.ccel.org), Andrew grew up in a Christian home. No spectacular transformation from unbeliever to saint.

His father was a Scottish Presbyterian minister who served in the Dutch Reformed Church of South Africa. Andrew became a pastor himself and served several pastorates, also in South Africa.

Andrew helped found two schools, made several evangelistic tours of South Africa, and received an honorary doctorate for his contributions to world missions. Today he is best known for his devotional writings, found in the 240 publications to his credit.

Not a shabby list of accomplishments, but Andrew faced no giants or lions. There are no cliff-hanger stories to tell about him. He simply served God faithfully where he was.

No doubt there are some who would skim-read such a biography, yawn, and seek more exciting stories–Adoniram Judson’s or David Livingstone’s.

Andrew Murray may have written some thoughtful books and essays, but let’s face it. His life-story borders on ho-hum ordinary.

But wait. The Bible and annals of history are overflowing with the stories of ordinary people such as:

  • Jethro, a shepherd. Yet his wisdom greatly assisted his son-in-law–Moses (Exodus 18:1-27).
  • Mordecai, a captive. However, he was in the right place at the right time to hear of a plot against the Jews (the book of Esther).
  • Lydia, a dealer in fine purple cloth and dye. She just happened to provide housing for Paul and Silas, and became the first convert—in all of Europe (Acts 16).

No doubt these people considered themselves just ordinary folk. But God used them in astonishing ways.

The truth is, there is no such thing as an ordinary person in God’s kingdom.

So, guess who’s talking when that voice in your head whispers, “You are a nobody. You aren’t accomplishing anything worthwhile in your life.”

It’s not God!

He placed within each of us wondrous, unique gifts. Would God do that if we were worthless?

Second, he placed us within a circle of influence that includes family, neighbors, friends, church acquaintances, business contacts, and more. (And let’s not forget the ripple effect.)

Third, God provides opportunities within that circle for us to use our gifts, be a blessing to others, and  bring him praise.

So whether God ordains you or me to be a leader or follower, a platform personality or a behind-the-scenes helper, a larger-than-life Paul, or a lesser-known Andrew Murray, we each have a unique niche to fill—especially designed by God himself.

 

potter

 

For we are God’s workmanship, 

(Think of it—we are the handiwork of the Master Designer!)

Created in Christ Jesus to do good works, 

(Works that will bring glory to God and supreme satisfaction to our hearts.)

which God prepared in advance for us to do (Ephesians 2:10).”

(Availing ourselves to what he’s prepared results in supremely worthwhile accomplishment.)

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

 

Thank you, Father, for gifting each of us with unique abilities to fulfill your specially designed plans. Thank you that in your kingdom there is no such thing as ho-hum ordinary, because you, the Master of the universe only create masterpieces! May our joy be centered in faithfully completing the works you have prepared for each of us.

 

Art and photo credits:  www.newparadigmthinkers.wordpress.com; http://www.dayofgrace.me.)       

 

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Does your to-do list for tomorrow include such items as:

  • Send birthday, get-well, or encouragement cards?
  • Attend a meeting or rehearsal at church?
  • Prepare for teaching a Bible study or Sunday School lesson?
  • Pick up your husband’s prescription?
  • Prepare for dinner guests?

Young woman cooking in her kitchen

Our days are often filled with small deeds. We tend to think they’re insignificant and therefore, so are we.

But that negative evaluation is not from God!

“Who despises the day of small things?” he spoke to Zechariah (4:10).

In fact, evidence indicates that God loves to take small, seemingly insignificant actions, and use them in creative, powerful ways:

  • A piece of wood thrown into bitter water turned it sweet (Exodus 15:25).
  • A cord hung from a window saved a family from destruction (Joshua 2:17-21).
  • An army of 300 defeated a powerful enemy, just by blowing trumpets and breaking clay jars to expose torchlight (Judges 7).
  • A dab of mud applied to a man’s blind eyes restored his sight (John 9).
  • Paul’s handkerchiefs and aprons became healing agents as they were laid upon the sick ((Acts 19:12).

mud

It doesn’t matter that we’re not famous, wealthy, intellectual, or strong, because it is “‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,'” says the Lord Almighty” (Zechariah 4:6).

Might = strength, resources, and ability.  If that describes you, wonderful!  But those blessings alone will not guarantee significance.

Power = persistence, resolve, and consistency.  Again, if you are able to power through with effort and efficiency to accomplish much, terrific!  But what’s truly important is if the effort is achieving God’s purpose.

Granted, God has given us talents and gifts, opportunities and choices.  We must be prayerful and wise in the ways we use them.

John Wesley advised:

025-All-You-Can-John-Wesley

(“Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever  you can.”)

Just remember:  apart from the Lord Almighty, we accomplish nothing worthwhile (John 15:5).

On the other hand, little is much–IF God is in it.

He rejoices in what is right, you see, not necessarily in what is big.

So, when you feel like a nobody who’s accomplishing nothing, be mindful of this:

Does the place you’re called to labor

Seem small and little known?

It is great if God is in it

And He’ll not forget His own.

–Kitty Suffield

(Art & photo credits:  www.whattoexpect.com; http://www.auyouth.com; http://www.kokabella.com.)

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Cashier totaling grocery purchases

 

As I approached the grocery check-out, I was surprised to see an acquaintance behind the counter.  Another pastor’s wife.

“Hi, Cheryl*,” I said, while loading produce and paper products on the conveyor belt.  “I didn’t know you worked here.”

“I just started,” she explained, swiping my purchases across the UPC reader screen.  What she said next startled me.  “Jim and I are getting a divorce.  I’ve moved out, and needed a job to help support myself.”

“Cheryl, I am so sorry.”

“Oh, no.  Don’t be.  It was my choice.  I couldn’t stand it anymore.”

If the divorce announcement had startled me, her next words were downright shocking.  Especially because they were spoken with such bitterness.

“It just became unbearable not to have an identity of my own.”  Cheryl almost spat out her words.  “I was always ‘Jim’s* wife.’  Well, no more.”

My first thought was, hasn’t she sensed the team effort of a pastorate?  Couldn’t she take joy in how God was using her husband? 

Perhaps Jim was partly to blame.  Maybe he never included her, using the pronoun “I” more frequently than “we,” never affirming how important she was to his work and well-being.

When I told my husband, Steve, about the encounter, he said, “Cheryl doesn’t realize her identity is in Jesus.”  

He was right.  She must have thought that asserting her own personhood would somehow make her more important.

Just what is our identity in Jesus?  Nestle down into the comforting words of these scriptures:

“Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over…all the earth.” (Genesis 1:26-27).

Author and theologian, Melvin Tinker, adds this insight:  “Men and women are the jewels in the crown of God’s creation.  Out of all the beings in the universe only men and women are God-like, bearing His image” (Wisdom to Live By, Christian Focus Publications, 1998, p. 112).

Did you get that?  You are a jewel, created uniquely by God, in his image.

“What is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?  You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor” (Psalm 8:4-5).

Each of us is highly valuable to God–crowned with glory and honor.  No position makes a person more important in God’s view; no gift makes someone superior.

“Those who are led by the Spirit of God are the sons [and daughters] of God” (Romans 8:14).  

Think of it.  If you know Jesus, you are a child of the almighty King of the universe!  You are royalty in God’s kingdom!

“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” (Romans 8:17).

And what have we inherited?  Countless blessings here on earth, and eternal bliss in heaven yet to come.  That doesn’t mean faith in Jesus results in a utopian existence.  This world is tainted by sin; we suffer the consequences.  But one day we’ll share in Christ’s glory and the hardships endured here will seem inconsequential.

“You have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority” (Colossians 2:10).

If we’re feeling incomplete or empty, only Jesus can fill that void with peace and contentment. HE is everything we need:  our Savior, Care-Giver, Guide, Source of peace, blessing, and contentment.

So!  At the first symptom of an identity crisis, let’s access that “fullness in Christ” through gratitude and praise.  We can thank God for creating each of us unique and special.  We can praise him for our gifts and talents that bless others and fulfill us.  We can revel in the privilege of living for the praise of his glory (Ephesians 1:12)!

And we can embrace this truth:

“Your real, new self…will not come as long as you are looking for it.  It will come when you are looking for Him” (C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity).

 

(photo credit:  www.biokineticspt.com.)

 

*Names have been changed.

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She glides across the platform in confident strides.  One hand waves in sweeping arcs to the large audience. The crowd is clapping and cheering.

In the other hand, with confident ease, she holds the microphone.  And the smile—big and broad. Bright white teeth visible even from the balcony.

Able to sing like a nightingale and speak truth with conviction. Impacting thousands.

Now there is someone God is using in a powerful way, to make a significant contribution in the Kingdom of God. No doubt she’s highly valuable to God.

Does a little demon ever park on your shoulder and whisper, “So what’s your claim to fame? What are you doing that’s important? Your spot in the scheme of things is nothing compared to that shining star on the stage. You might as well face the truth: You are unimportant. The ship of Significance has passed you by.”

Does that speech sound the least bit familiar? You’re not alone. Demons use those same lies on a lot of us. Evil spirits aren’t very creative, are they?

But here’s the truth of the matter:

Each of us is the workmanship of God (Ephesians 2:10). The Greek word sometimes has the connotation of “work of art.” You are a work of art—carefully designed and executed.

The verse goes on to explain we’ve been created to do good works. It does not say the same work. Diversity of personality, talent, and interest are necessary among the children of God in order that all his plans are accomplished.

He made each of us unique, to fulfill a personalized plan. Every now and then we see such a plan unfold so clearly, we know God engineered the circumstances. Sometimes it’s a unique set of talents or gifts that work together sublimely to meet a need.

Take, for example, the naturally talented writer, who happened to grow up in a bilingual home, and studied Christian Education in college. She was especially prepared by God to write Spanish curriculum for a Christian publishing company.

Other times the plan is much less obvious. That’s called walking by faith.

But rest assured you are valuable to God (Matthew  10:29-31).

Believe that he has prepared in advance good works for you to do (Ephesians 2:10).  Take joy and satisfaction from completing those good works.

It may not be walking across a stage with a microphone. It might mean walking across the kitchen with a rolling pin—to bake cookies for the neighbors.

That’s just a small thing, you say?

Think about this: What if God especially likes small things?

Personally, I’m fascinated by small things. Miniatures, doll houses, petit-point, babies!

Scripture gives us indication that God loves small things, too.

Sparrows (Matthew 10:29-31).

Two little mites given by a widow (Mark 12:41-44).

Five small barley loaves and two small fish (John 6:1-13).

Bethlehem (Micah 5:2).

Let’s never again allow those little demons of abasement to put us down. God has promised: “I will bless those who fear the Lord—small and great alike” (Psalm 115:13, emphasis added).

You see, in God’s sight, we’re of equal worth.

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