The Danger of the Self-Esteem Movement

For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith. Romans 12:3 (NASB)

From the time children are born, parents are told to pump up self-worth in their children through constant verbal encouragement.  The children are told what good boys and girls they are many times a day. School facilitates the self-esteem movement by removing competition for winning First Place in games, or having winners at all (by the handing out of trophies and ribbons to all the children), using pass only grading systems (no one fails) and ceasing the use of letter grades so children don't feel bad about getting a "C" compared to the other children in the class. This is the gospel of self-esteem and is a creation of the psychological system.

A propped up self-esteem leads a child toward feeling oriented living. Children learn they have to feel good about themselves and have the approval of others all the time. This becomes problematic as the child grows and enters the adult world and is not constantly affirmed or "special." Another blow to the kids is reality dictates that some people win and some lose; there is not a prize for everyone or for coming in Second Place.

On the spiritual end of the self-esteem movement, promoting the gospel of self-esteem insulates a person from the gospel. When a person hears constantly how good they are they have no need for a savior. The heart of man is supremely fixed on self, and the culture we live in furthers the notion that man is by nature "good." How can a sinner in need of salvation ever understand they are a sinner in need of salvation when they do not understand their condition apart from Christ?

Paul tells us to take a realistic view of ourselves through the lens of Scripture, and to see ourselves as God sees us. From God's heavenly perspective, we are horribly broken and in desperate need of His help. We are alienated from Him because of our inborn sin (Romans 2:5;Colossians 3:6,7)) and our wicked hearts (Jer. 17:9) that lead us toward every kind of depravity.

Biblically, there is no such thing as self-esteem, the word is not in the Bible. You would not know that by what you hear from some pulpits these days. Some schools of theology teach that God saved man because He found him worthy of being saved. They say that man is good and God added to his goodness. This is a lie. As much as we want to think that we are worthy of God, and that we are so special that God died for us, nothing is further from the truth. No one is worthy of God's favor. No one is good enough to merit His love and grace. We bring nothing into the relationship but sin.  Our so-called righteousness is as filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6) and there is nothing whatsoever that we can do to change those facts on our own.