Giving Children a Right Perception of Self

Many years ago, Dr. Albert Mohler made the following observation:
The idea that self-esteem is an essential part of a healthy personality is now virtually institutionalized in American culture... The entire educational structure, especially at the elementary level, takes self-esteem as a basic imperative for the educational process. Now, a team of researchers has taken a closer look at the idea that self-esteem is a crucial factor in personal happiness, achievement, and behavior. Their research conclusively destroys the self-esteem myth and demonstrates that the nation’s obsession with self-esteem was never based on science in the first place.

(“The Myth of Self-Esteem,” published February 8, 2005 at

The question for us is this: Has this myth also crept into our classrooms and homes? Has our philosophy of children's ministry and the methods we use been shaped by the self-esteem movement? Or are we grounding ourselves and our children in a biblical understanding of "self"? As a starting point, here are a few basic biblical truths and implications to pass on to our children:
  1. We have been created by God in His image. (Genesis 1:26-27) Our worth is determined by God and is not self-derived.
  2. We are totally dependent on God for everything. (Acts 17:25; 1 Corinthians 4:7b) Any intelligence, talents, physical attributes, and abilities we have are ultimately from God.
  3. We have been created to glorify God. (1 Corinthians 10:31) God is of infinite worth. We have not been created for self-admiration, but for worshipping God.
  4. We have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23) By nature, we tend to put ourselves at the center of the universe instead of God. We tend to think more highly of ourselves than we ought.
  5. We deserve God's condemnation. (Romans 6:23a). This problem cannot be solved through any kind of self-improvement efforts, or by simply thinking positive thoughts about ourselves. We are helpless. Only God can solve the problem.
  6. Jesus died to save sinners from God's condemnation so that we might have a "new self."  (Romans 5:6-8; 2 Corinthians 5:17) Only through Christ can we rightly see and live in a way that glorifies God. Through Christ we experience a "new self" as we are united with Him.
  7. Our "new self" in Christ is characterized by the following: • Jesus lives in me. • I am a loved child of God. • God has given me the righteousness of Jesus. • God is for me. • God has prepared good works for me to do. • I can do all things through Christ's strength. • In Jesus, I can have fullness of joy.
(Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at
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