Participants: Shelley Quinn (Host), Jennifer Jill Schwirzer
Series Code: IAA
Program Code: IAA000313
00:30 Hello I'm Shelley Quinn and welcome again to
00:32 Issues and Answers. We want to thank you for joining
00:35 us no matter where you are tuning in from around the world.
00:38 Today we're going to be talking about an issue that I believe is
00:42 very important for us to have a healthy understanding of and
00:47 that is self-esteem. What should our attitude as Christians be
00:51 about self-esteem. You know the Bible tells us in Philippians
00:55 chapter 2, I'll begin with verse 4. Paul wrote to the Philippians
01:00 and he said, Let each of you esteem the other and look to not
01:05 only his own interests but also the interest of others. And then
01:10 he says, Let this same mind be in you which was also in Christ
01:16 Jesus. Christ is our example. So help me to welcome back
01:21 Jennifer Schwirzer. Jennifer is a Christian counselor, she's a
01:25 song writer, she's just many things, but she's really a very
01:30 precious Christian woman and you have your masters in psychology
01:35 Mental Health Counseling.
01:36 Mental health counseling and you are now...
01:38 Practicing as a counselor/ psychotherapist or a Christian
01:42 counselor. Wonderful. Now we're so glad
01:45 that you're coming back to us today and we're going to be
01:48 talking about this very important issues of self-esteem.
01:51 So let me just put it to you this way. Should a Christian
01:55 look up to themselves, look down to themselves, how should we do
02:00 this? Or look away from themselves is
02:01 a third option. There you go.
02:03 Well I wanted to start out today with just looking at the whole
02:06 self-esteem issue within the field of psychology and I want
02:10 to look at some scientific evidence as to whether
02:13 self-esteem really does benefit people or not. Because about
02:17 20 years ago the whole notion of self-esteem kind of got started
02:22 back in the 80s and began what we might call the self-esteem
02:25 movement. There was a group of people out in California called
02:29 the California Task Force on Self-Esteem that put together
02:32 a huge research project, thousands and thousands of
02:36 research dollars and effort and time went into this and they
02:39 researched the issue of self- esteem with the premise that if
02:43 they could just raise the collective self-esteem of people
02:47 in California and specifically this was directed at youth who
02:50 had these terrible self- destructive behaviors of
02:53 substance abuse and promiscuity. If they could just raise their
02:56 collective self-esteem that these social ills would be
02:59 largely solved. That was their premise. They went in with these
03:02 thousands of dollars and this huge research project and did
03:06 this elaborate study and then published a paper out of that
03:09 that yea thick and filled with all this esoteric psychobabble
03:13 and, not to be disrespectful, but anyway you couldn't
03:17 understand it unless you know some of the terms and really it
03:20 didn't say a whole lot conclusively about self-esteem.
03:23 So they're really still operating out of a premise that
03:26 self-esteem is good for people. But subsequent research has
03:30 shown a very mixed message on whether self-esteem is actually
03:35 beneficial to people or whether in some cases it's a deterrent
03:39 to healthy behavior and so I want to go through some of those
03:43 evidences. Okay. Self-esteem, according to research does not
03:47 correlate with popularity. In other words, just because you
03:50 like yourself doesn't mean that other people are going to like
03:54 you. In fact, you can like yourself a whole lot and other
03:57 people cannot like you. It doesn't make or break your
04:00 ability to be popular. So sometime people who like
04:03 themselves a whole lot are maybe less popular because they're
04:08 prideful. Yeah, exactly. It can go a bunch
04:11 of different ways. Self-esteem is correlated with the ability
04:15 to initiate new social contacts. So if you feel good about
04:18 yourself you're going to be more outgoing, more self-confident
04:22 and friendly in a social situation. It is not correlated
04:26 with better work or academic performance. That means that
04:30 people with high self-esteem don't necessarily excel
04:33 academically. They don't necessarily produce more at
04:37 work. It's kind of a mixed bag there. And that was one of the
04:41 premises they went in with was that kids will do better in
04:44 school if they believe in themselves. It doesn't
04:46 necessarily work that way. It is not correlated with better
04:50 relationships. In fact, people with high self-esteem are more
04:55 likely to cut off a relationship when there's conflict then
04:59 someone without high self- esteem and generally speaking,
05:03 people in my field recognize that emotional cutoff is not a
05:07 good thing. Okay delve into that just a
05:10 little bit more. So what you're saying is that if somebody has
05:14 really high self-esteem are you saying that they basically
05:17 with conflict they just figure they're right and the other is
05:21 wrong. So is that what causes the divisiveness in the
05:25 relationship. Well it can. It's really kind of
05:27 a neutral thing, but the research has shown that if
05:29 someone has high self-esteem they're more likely to cut off a
05:33 relationship when there's conflict. Now that can be a good
05:36 thing. Some people with very, very low self-esteem might stay
05:40 in a relationship way past the point. But it can also be out of
05:43 arrogance. I'm not going to deal with this person anymore
05:45 because they don't you know... Uncompromising
05:49 Yeah. So regardless of whether it's a good thing or a bad thing
05:52 people with high self-esteem tend to break off relationships
05:55 when there's conflict more readily than people without high
05:58 self-esteem. So you know this is is all scientific research. They
06:02 do all this research and then they have very little in the way
06:05 of conclusions. That's why I love the Bible because I think
06:10 that eventually if we used the scientific method and researched
06:13 every aspect of human life, we would eventually come to the
06:17 same conclusions that the Bible spells out for us. However, you
06:21 get to them faster if you just believe the Bible.
06:24 As you're going through all this I'm just sitting here thinking
06:26 how simple the Bible puts it. As a man thinks in his heart
06:30 so is he. So there's something important about having a
06:33 healthy regard for one's self.
06:34 And we'll get to that but I want to just look at it through the
06:39 eyes of a scientist for a moment here. High self-esteem is not
06:43 correlated with less promiscuity in young people and this is
06:47 another premise that the California task force was
06:49 operating out of. If we can just get young people to believe in
06:53 themselves and think well of themselves they won't be so
06:57 self-destructive and ready to engage in illicit sexual acts.
07:01 But it didn't work that way. But bad sexual experiences and
07:04 unwanted pregnancy appear to lower self-esteem so there's
07:07 and affect relationship, not necessarily a causal one.
07:11 There's mixed evidence of correlations between self-esteem
07:15 and drug and alcohol abuse, so you can't necessarily say that
07:19 high self-esteem keeps a kid from abusing substances.
07:22 It doesn't necessarily work that way but sometimes it appears to.
07:25 And again, this is science so it's very difficult to come to
07:29 very many conclusions because it's science and not the word of
07:32 God. But science does, if it's done right, manifest the
07:37 principles of the word. This is really interesting. High
07:42 self-esteem has been correlated with aggressive behavior.
07:46 In fact perpetrators generally hold a very high
07:50 opinion of themselves.
07:51 Now it used to be that when counseling was done for
07:56 perpetrators of, for instance, domestic violence, they would
07:59 build up the ego of the perpetrator thinking that the
08:03 insecurity of that individual was causing him to compensate
08:06 through aggressive behavior but what they found is that it
08:09 didn't work, that the more they built up the ego the more
08:13 arrogant and domineering the individual became. So some new
08:16 theories are being developed, new methods of dealing with
08:19 domestic violence where they actually challenge and confront
08:22 the perpetrator rather than build them up. So that's very
08:26 fascinating to me. That's incredible.
08:28 Just a couple more points. People with high self-esteem are
08:32 happier, less often depressed and poor self-image is a risk
08:36 factor for eating disorders. So I don't think we can say
08:40 self-esteem is a bad thing. I don't think we can say it's a
08:44 panacea of all life's ills. I think we have to take a very
08:48 balanced and a moderate approach to it.
08:51 You know, maybe we should have started off by defining...
08:53 What is your definition of self-esteem?
08:55 Okay, that's a good question. A lot of this gets into
09:00 semantics, Shelley, but I like to distinguish self-esteem from
09:04 self-worth. To me the Bible comes out pretty plainly that we
09:08 should esteem other better than ourselves. To me self-esteem
09:12 sounds almost like pride. But maybe not. You know, if people
09:16 use the word self-esteem to refer to valuing one's self
09:19 that's okay with me. So I'm not a semantical Nazi. But it's just
09:25 basically thinking well of yourself, I think.
09:29 I have to share. Someone called oh I guess last week and Molly
09:34 took the call and this woman said, That Shelley Quinn is so
09:38 sure of herself. And she was quite upset with me. And Molly
09:42 told her actually no, she's just as insecure as any of the rest
09:47 of us but she said she does know who she is in Christ. And for me
09:53 you know we are to esteem others more than we esteem self as
09:58 Christ did. But we need to know... There's an identity
10:02 crisis is how I kind of have labeled this within the church
10:07 that people don't know who they are in Christ and it affects
10:11 self-esteem in a negative way. There are Christians who are
10:15 beating themselves up all the time not knowing that God's plan
10:19 is to allow them to be totally dependent upon him and that they
10:23 yield and cooperate with him and he does a work within them.
10:28 Maybe it is semantics because self-esteem, self-worth are
10:34 closely related. They are very related. Self
10:36 respect is another way of saying the same thing.
10:39 But would you agree then for the Christian, I mean if we put
10:43 aside secular ideas, for the Christian we should have a
10:48 certain security in Christ. That security and assurance in Christ
10:52 but to me I think that a healthy self-esteem is one that regards
10:56 yourself as God regards you.
10:58 That's right, that's right. Well you know you're taking away
11:01 my sermon here but that's okay. That's all right.
11:04 And that's good because we're both coming to the same
11:07 conclusion a little bit different way but that's awesome
11:09 I look at it this way. There's a spectrum and on one end of the
11:13 spectrum you have the extreme of low self-esteem. People that
11:17 have low self-esteem typically feel like I'm worse than other
11:20 people. Then on the other extreme you have people with
11:23 high self-esteem that think that they're better than other people
11:26 I don't think God wants us to think that we're worse than
11:28 other people. I don't think he wants us to think that we're
11:31 better than other people. In fact, the word says that
11:34 comparing yourself amongst yourselves is not wise and we
11:37 know that disciples were always caviling over who was the
11:40 greatest. This is not what God wants us to do, but if we can
11:44 get out of that competitive mode into a vertical relationship to
11:47 Jesus and recognize who we are in him then we establish like
11:51 you said a self-worth, a self- esteem, a security in him.
11:55 You know when you said that, my mother, I just praise the
11:59 Lord that she brought me up all my life to say if you'd see
12:03 someone drunk in a ditch, she'd say don't think for any second
12:07 that you're any better than that person. But for the grace of God
12:10 something like this could happen in your life. But at the same
12:13 time she would say no matter who it was, if the president were to
12:17 invite you to the White House, don't think for any second that
12:21 that person is better than you. So the idea is in learning...
12:25 I mean, when you've got someone coming to you who has low
12:29 self-esteem, I see a lot of issues with low self-esteem,
12:33 depression and people who think that everyone's better than them
12:38 there's no assertiveness, they don't understand how to stand
12:43 up for themselves, they don't understand how to esteem others
12:48 really. Would you agree with that?
12:51 If you have that foundation of self-worth within yourself then
12:55 you have a position from which you can esteem others. You know
12:59 you can't do that if you're just dealing with a gaping wound
13:03 within yourself feeling bad about yourself because when
13:07 you feel bad about yourself your self-focused and so you have no
13:11 vantage point from which to give to others. So what I do,
13:14 and I get a lot of clients that have self-esteem issues that
13:18 just are really down in the dumps. What I try to do is show
13:21 them from the scriptures that there is a case to be made for
13:24 self-care. Not self-esteem necessarily. It's hard for
13:29 people that feel that down to look at themselves in the mirror
13:32 and say you're great. It just doesn't come to them. But you
13:35 can show them from the scriptures that God has called
13:39 them to take care of themselves. And we can see that in the
13:42 physical realm and you know the scriptures better than I do.
13:46 We're to present our bodies a living sacrifice. Our body is
13:52 the temple of the Holy Ghost. We're told that God wants us to
13:57 prosper in all things and be in health even as our soul prospers
14:01 And here's where I go with people that have low self-esteem
14:04 I say you can see from the scriptures that God wants you to
14:07 take care of your body. And they say yes and they can see the
14:10 logic in that. Then I say, Do you think that God would like
14:13 you to take care of your emotional life as well and your
14:16 relational life. And that's a little harder for them to see.
14:19 So what I say is, Well if you starved your child you did not
14:23 give food to your child who would you hold responsible for
14:27 your child going hungry. And they say, well me. And I'd say
14:31 well why? Shouldn't God feed them? And they'd say well no
14:34 because I'm the one that God put in that position of
14:37 responsibility to feed them. And I say, You're an adult and
14:40 God has put you in the position of responsibility to care for
14:44 your own emotional health and so even God isn't going to do that
14:48 for you if he put you in that position of responsibility.
14:51 So I make a case for them for taking care of themselves, not
14:54 because they're great, not because they're better than
14:57 others, not because of any talent or ability or asset that
15:01 they have but because of God and because God has placed
15:04 value upon them. And when he places value upon them that's a
15:08 call to self-care. Does that make sense?
15:10 Absolutely perfect sense. I've got somebody in mind right now.
15:17 Incredibly talented, very gifted and grew up in a very abusive
15:23 background and this person with all of these gifts and talents..
15:28 Sometimes we look upon something that's humility but
15:32 it's not really humility. It's having such low self-worth that
15:36 they don't feel like the Lord should even bless them.
15:39 How would you handle somebody like that?
15:41 Oh, oh, I do it all the time. I try to build them up, I try to
15:45 encourage them but I find that just telling them they're pretty
15:48 or they're smart or they're talented doesn't work. I have
15:52 to establish with that person the value that God placed on
15:55 them and here's how I conceptualize it and this really
15:58 works for me because I like visuals. You know, the cross
16:02 had a vertical beam and a horizontal beam. The vertical
16:05 beam to me represents our vertical relationship with God.
16:09 That vertical relationship pulls us up out of the ditches of low
16:13 self-esteem and pride and puts us on the middle road. We know
16:17 that because of the price that was paid for us, Jesus pouring
16:21 out his blood at infinite cost to himself, giving it as a free
16:25 gift to us, we know that because of that he has placed an
16:28 extraordinary value upon us and because of that value that is
16:31 placed upon us, we are valuable in his sight. That puts us on
16:34 the road. But there's also a horizontal beam on the cross.
16:38 And that in my mind keeps us balanced on the road to service
16:42 because we're reaching out to others and one of the things
16:45 I've encountered in therapy is sports addiction. I had a young
16:49 client that was in this environment of competitive
16:52 sports and he would fall apart when he lost or when he was
16:55 judged; he felt he was judged unfairly. What I promote in
16:59 situations like that is service. I think service is the cure for
17:03 low self-esteem and I've actually found research that
17:06 shows that there's better identity formation in young
17:10 people when they engage in some form of volunteer service.
17:13 Amen. You know I can remember my sister even for depression
17:16 which a lot of times is low self-esteem that leads to
17:19 depression or vice versa; it's a vicious cycle. And I remember
17:23 when my sister a number of years ago called me and she was lower
17:27 than a snake's belly and I told her, go volunteer, go down to
17:31 Salvation Army or somewhere. Go do some volunteer work
17:34 because as long as you got your eyes on self so much... I think
17:39 it seems like service to me when you get involved in serving
17:44 others. There's something that takes the focus away from you,
17:49 it lifts the spirits and you feel that you are of worth to
17:54 someone else when you can give to someone else. It is more
17:58 blessed to give than to receive.
18:00 Oh it is more blessed and right-doing is a powerful
18:03 medicine for the soul and a powerful healer for the emotions
18:08 but in the moment that you're in those dumps and you feel so
18:11 badly about yourself the thought of doing something like
18:14 that is totally unnatural. This is part of the Christian walk is
18:19 sometimes doing things that go directly against the grain of
18:22 the way we feel. We cannot live by our emotions. Our emotions
18:27 are very hostile and vicious and cruel task master if we let them
18:31 control our lives. So there's going to be a time... Jesus said
18:35 If your eye offends you pluck it out. If your hand offends you
18:38 cut it off. There are going to be times that we have to go
18:41 directly against the grain or our emotions and do something
18:44 on principle. But what we find is that when we act on principle
18:47 then the emotions begin to follow and we start to
18:50 experience relief of that emotional negativity.
18:53 In the case of my sister, here I am counseling with her on a
18:57 daily basis for a couple of weeks; go do this, get your eyes
19:00 off yourself. When she finally did, Jennifer, it was an
19:03 immediate turnaround. I mean she just came home filled with like
19:07 awe. You know I'm so blessed and I didn't realize how many
19:10 blessings I had, etc. Now something that J.D. uses and let
19:13 me ask you because we discussed on a previous program that my
19:17 husband, J.D. Quinn, who also has a masters in psychology
19:20 is... When we first married some of the psychology training that
19:25 he had, I'd sit there and say, That's not scriptural, that's
19:30 not scriptural. This is a good principle but it's a Bible
19:34 principle you've only got half of the truth and I'd show him
19:37 in the word. Now what he does when he's working with people
19:41 is he gives them scripture promises and he teaches them
19:46 how to pray those promises over themselves, how to claim them
19:50 and confess them over their life and he'll give them little
19:54 assignments every time he talks with them; a certain number of
19:58 promises that they put on a 3x5 card and it's so amazing that as
20:02 people confess these over their life and pray them back to the
20:05 Lord how much power there is in the word of God. Have you ever
20:09 tried doing that. I have and a lot of my clients know more of
20:13 the Bible than I do. So what's happening with some of them...
20:15 I don't want to discredit what you just said because it's
20:19 absolutely true and you know you can give those like Rx,
20:23 prescription promise and I even have a little book that has
20:26 promises that are topically organized that I use in
20:30 counseling, very powerful stuff. But what I find with some people
20:33 is that they know the word, they know the promises but they
20:38 haven't been able to internalize them.
20:40 They're up here but they're not in their hearts.
20:42 That's right and so that's where counseling comes in because
20:46 what I say to them, You know your heart is like a garden and
20:50 if the ground is hard the seed isn't going to get in. So what
20:53 we need to do is we need to go in and we need to break up the
20:56 fallow ground of your thinking so that the soil becomes
20:59 receptive to the word of God and so a lot of counseling is kind
21:04 of almost a really intense process sometimes.
21:07 It's difficult for people.
21:08 Have you ever been in a time in your life when you weren't
21:12 taking care of yourself the way you should, where you were doing
21:15 something... Like there are times that I've gone through
21:18 like we discussed before that I've had an overwhelming
21:21 schedule particularly over the last three years basically
21:24 working two full time jobs and I find that sometimes I can let
21:28 dietary habits slip and I start doing something that, you know,
21:32 eating Fritos and stuff that I know is not really good for me.
21:37 Have you ever gone through a period of time in your life when
21:41 your self-care was not good?
21:43 Absolutely and what I find is that when we are not caring for
21:47 ourselves and rewarding ourselves in an appropriate
21:51 God-given way, like I said, he put us in charge of ourselves
21:54 If we're not caring, and that includes rewarding, you know,
21:57 for delayed gratification. Well you get to do this if you do
22:01 this and just sort of managing ourselves well, giving ourselves
22:05 time off, taking a vacation when we need it, eating healthy food,
22:08 taking time to prepare healthy food, doing some recreational
22:12 things with people we love, meeting new people, social
22:16 engagements. If we're not doing those things proactively what I
22:19 find is that that deprivation scenario will create a
22:23 vulnerability within me toward destructive behaviors, toward
22:27 like you said the Fritos and the things that you know you're
22:30 not supposed to eat. You'll be more prone to those things.
22:34 So we really don't live with deprivation very well. Human
22:37 beings, they find another way to indulge themselves. So we
22:40 need to "indulge" ourselves in a God-given way.
22:45 So basically what we're saying today then is self-esteem...
22:50 When I started off say should we look up to ourselves thinking
22:54 that we're important, should we look down on ourselves thinking
22:57 ...see some people think that's humility is to look down on
23:01 self. That's not humility. Humility is, in my opinion
23:04 anyway, is understanding that it all comes from outside of us,
23:09 that it's God and that we accept who God says we are to me is
23:15 a humble thing, right. I use 1 John 2:27. Like the Bible says
23:19 that we have an anointing. Well if you sit here and say,
23:23 Oh no I don't have an anointing That may sound humble but it's
23:26 not because you're exalting your own opinion over what the word
23:29 of God says. That's right. That's right. So the humble
23:32 thing is to look at it and say, Yes, in Christ Jesus I do have
23:36 and anointing. The Bible says it, I'm going to accept it by
23:41 faith. But what we've got to look at is self-esteem is seeing
23:46 our self, I mean healthy self- esteem, is seeing our self as
23:50 God sees us. Would say that's pretty accurate?
23:53 In the light of the cross. Allowing that vertical
23:55 relationship with God and recognizing the price that he
23:59 paid to pull up out of either ditch of pride or
24:02 self-deprecation and the horizontal beam of engaging in
24:06 service to our fellow man to sort of self-authenticate those
24:11 principles that we've embraced in the gospel.
24:13 And I like that you said that those are both ditches. Pride is
24:17 a ditch and actually that's a spirit of... it's a satanic
24:23 thing is pride. That's where it comes from.
24:25 That was Lucifer's problem.
24:27 But then on the other hand that self-deprecation where we think
24:30 that we're just... There's probably someone watching right
24:37 now who is being beaten by their husband and their self-esteem is
24:42 so low that they have absolutely come to believe that they
24:46 deserve it or that they're doing something wrong.
24:48 I love what you said about not arguing with the word of God.
24:51 The word of God has called us to security in Christ and to great
24:55 things, to excellence in him. Christ within, the hope of glory
24:59 Don't allow your life to be wasted in a situation where you
25:03 are being ground to powder. If it's God's time and in God's way
25:07 extricate yourself from situations that are snuffing out
25:11 your self-worth. Isn't that kind of what you were driving at?
25:14 That's exactly what I'm driving at. That's it. We've only got
25:17 about a minute. Do you have a closing thought?
25:20 Oh a closing thought. I just want people to know who they
25:24 are in Jesus and to just really really like wrap your mind
25:29 around the promises of God. Someone actually loves you and
25:33 as often as we say that, some things bear repeating. Some
25:38 things we just need to say over and over. You might not be great
25:41 but you are loved.
25:43 You know, I think you know my book Exalting His Word and The
25:47 Life Affirmations From Scripture I have a very interesting
25:51 experience and have had over a number of years that as long as
25:56 I'm in the word confessing the word of God over my life, God
26:00 keeps me from... he draws me closer to him; I feel more
26:06 closely related to him is how I should say it. If I allow my
26:09 schedule to overshadow that practice and I don't do it for
26:13 awhile, I can just feel myself going fuup.
26:16 The foundation of you whole psyche just goes through the
26:19 floor. Yeah! It's so amazing.
26:20 So knowing who you are in Christ... I mean it's not that
26:26 those scriptures have left my mind, but if I'm not
26:30 internalizing them then I can go right back into all of those
26:35 little dysfunctional thoughts and ideas that had to do with
26:40 my upbringing. We live moment by moment.
26:42 Isn't that the truth. By the grace of God.
26:44 Isn't that the truth. You know God said, forget the past, don't
26:48 dwell on the past for I am doing a new thing in you and suddenly
26:52 it will spring forward. Jennifer, our time went too fast
26:56 Let me ask you this. You will come back won't you?
26:58 Okay. And we want to thank you so much
27:01 for being with us today.
27:02 It was great to be here. I really enjoyed it.
27:04 Well we appreciate so much the work that you're doing and the
27:07 many talents that God has given you that you are using them for
27:10 his glory. You know for those of you at
27:12 home, if you have a child that is suffering, that does not know
27:17 who they are, I want to encourage you, maybe it's you
27:20 instead of your child. I want to encourage you to get into the
27:24 Bible. Find out who you are in Christ. Even consider, if this
27:28 is a major problem, consider going to see a Christian
27:32 counselor that can talk you through some of these things
27:35 and help you to recognize that God's got a plan for your life
27:39 and it's better than the one that you're living right now.
27:42 Now may the grace of our Lord Jesus, the love of the Father
27:47 and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you today and
27:51 every day for the rest of your life. Thank you so much for
27:55 joining us.