We men do like for our ego massaged! We want to feel powerful. We want to achieve in our work. We want to be competent and want to be seen by others as competent. We never seem to arrive, though. We just keep striving.
Some of this is not so bad. I am all for excellence in what you do and I still like to conquer and accomplish, but we have to be very careful not to link these desires (not needs) to our self-worth, because when we fail (and we will) and when we don’t get the admiration from our woman that we desire (and that will likely happen, too) or we get older and cannot do those things we used to do or we retire and loose that with which identified for so long; we can quickly find ourselves lacking confidence and thinking of ourselves and feeling basically worthless. As long as things are going well or we have the admiration of our woman, we may not give it so much thought; but if we are honest with ourselves, we will likely admit that we have a thread of insecurity running through us.
Steve Harvey said, “But remember what drives a man; real men do what they have to do to make sure their people are taken care of, clothed, housed, and reasonably satisfied, and if they're doing anything less than that, they're not men.”
This is a high expectation. If this is achievable, it does not often stay achieved. Things will certainly change for us over the course of our lives. We may find ourselves out of work, physically unable to do what we once could do, with dissatisfied people in our family where nothing is ever going to be good enough and if we have defined our self-worth based on all these being in place, then we are going to be in trouble – frustrated – depressed – certainly stressed.
ECC 2:21-23 21 For a person may labor with wisdom, knowledge and skill, and then they must leave all they own to another who has not toiled for it. This too is meaningless and a great misfortune. 22 What do people get for all the toil and anxious striving with which they labor under the sun? 23 All their days their work is grief and pain; even at night their minds do not rest. This too is meaningless.
ECC 12:13 Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind.
I am not sure we have done a good job within Behavioral Health to explain concepts of self-esteem and self-worth, because we often use them interchangeably as though they were the same thing and they are not. Another word for “worth” is “value”. So, the question becomes how am I valuable to myself? How am I valuable to others? We Christians desire to be valuable to others, right? After all, the 2nd greatest commandment which is like unto the first is to love our neighbor as ourselves. How we treat and what we do for others is an important way for us to demonstrate our love for God. So, doing for our neighbor may be part of how we are valuable to ourselves, but it is not how we are valuable to ourselves. Just because you love someone dearly and do for them in no way guarantees that they will treat you well in return – they might more often than not, but there is no guarantee. They have choice in the matter. People did not treat Jesus particularly well. This can be discouraging and even demoralizing if we have attached our self-worth to pleasing someone else or attaining a certain accomplishment, position, etc.
We are created with the ability to choose. In Deut 30:19 This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live.
Acts 16:30-31 30 He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”
31 They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved…..
Colossians 3:12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.
There is an implication of choice in these verses, so the first and most important and personally beneficial choice that we can make is for Christ and future choices involve our being obedient to Him. Then we will be blessed. We may suffer along the way as did Jesus, but we will be blessed from a spiritual perspective for sure.
Heb 11:6 6 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
We don’t often pay enough attention to the last part of that verse. We will be better able to act out our faith when we know that there is reward coming (again, it may not be as the world would define reward). Revelation was largely to encourage Christians being persecuted by letting them know that God will win in the end and his children will celebrate in that victory.
Another word for esteem is appreciation. When we are able to appreciate what is our self-worth we are more likely to purposefully use it to make choices and refuse to live life on auto-pilot; therefore, we will have a better sense of ourselves in light of our relationship with Jesus.
Human beings are valuable to themselves in that they have the ability and responsibility to make choices that have the potential to benefit them. (No one else can make choices for you; therefore, this ability and responsibility cannot be measured or compared to other people.)
March 2009, the News Star reported that in Alexandria at Bolton High School, a couple of paintings which had been given to the school by the graduating class of 1917 sometime in the 1960’s and had been hanging in the Library for decades were noticed by someone who then suggested that they have them appraised. These were paintings by Ellsworth Woodward who at one time was an instructor at Tulane at the turn of the 20th century. These paintings were appraised for $150K each. Now the question is – were the paintings worth anything less from one day before to the day after they were appraised/ was there any material difference in the paintings from one day to the next? Or were they just more appreciated after the appraisal. They were esteemed more highly when someone recognized their worth.
Men, we need to recognize that our self-worth is not in the validation of others or our next accomplishment, but in our continual ability to make choices that have the potential to benefit us.
The continuous process is:
- Love and Trust God
- Prayerfully take stock of your present situation
- Make a choice in obedience and faith and you will be rewarded – the more you purposefully use your self-worth, the more you will appreciate it.
And maybe this isn’t just for men!