Issues and Answers

Self-esteem & The Christian

Three Angels Broadcasting Network

Program transcript

Participants: J. D. Quinn (Host), Magna Parks


Series Code: IAA

Program Code: IAA000422

00:01 Have you ever wondered about the Christian and his self-esteem?
00:04 Stand by. We'll be right back.
00:07 Music playing.
00:31 Welcome to Issues and Answers. My name is J.D. Quinn.
00:34 Today we are going to talk about self-esteem and the Christian.
00:38 I have a special guest and it's Dr. Magna Parks from Georgia.
00:43 Tell us a little bit about yourself. Where in Georgia?
00:47 I'm from Atlanta, Georgia, right outside of Atlanta,
00:49 in the land of the south.
00:51 The land of the south, I like it now.
00:54 I've been in this field for over 20 years as a psychologist.
00:59 And you have a Ph. D. Yes, in counseling psychology.
01:01 I am also licensed for the state of Georgia. Yes.
01:05 Amen. And you have a lovely husband who I met today.
01:08 Yes, his name is Al and we have a ministry together called
01:12 Be In Good Health. Be in Good Health. Yes.
01:14 Well I must say that you are a wonderful looking couple.
01:16 Oh, thank you. You are very striking. You know
01:18 some people look like they go together; some you know
01:20 that they have to work on it. Y'all just really look good
01:23 together. Thank you so much
01:25 Today we have a very important topic and that is dealing with
01:27 self-esteem. First of all, let's look at the definition.
01:33 Self-esteem is defined by people in different ways.
01:37 The definition I like the most has to do with how we evaluate
01:41 ourselves, how we appraise our selves and that's something
01:45 that we need to look at times.
01:47 Now when you say appraise ourselves exactly what does
01:50 that mean? You know when you appraise
01:51 something, you determine its worth, you determine the value
01:55 of it and so self-esteem has to do with looking at what we're
01:59 worth, what is our value.
02:01 Amen. Now we're touching on secular psychology, we're also
02:06 talking about our Christian walk with the Lord.
02:09 How do these things fit? Normally what does secular
02:12 psychology do to promote self-esteem?
02:16 Well when I was going through my graduate training I was
02:19 taught that it was all about self-esteem, how much we
02:24 evaluated and appraised ourselves. And that people's
02:27 problems were basically due to the fact that they had a low
02:30 self-esteem. So we would often say when people would come in
02:34 we would attribute their problems to self-esteem and
02:35 work on ways to raise self esteem. In fact, secular
02:39 psychologists, many of them don't even like some of the
02:41 texts in the Bible that say there is no one good and, you
02:45 know all our righteousness is as filthy rags, because in their
02:49 view that just really puts self down. If you believe that when
02:52 you put self down you're going to have problems these kinds of
02:55 verses can cause a problem for secular psychologists, so the
02:59 goal is to raise this view of self believing that if we raise
03:02 this view of self all our problems will go away in a
03:05 simplistic way. I'm certainly going to try not
03:09 to get ahead of myself here because, boy, when we're talking
03:12 about self-esteem I guess with every different personality
03:16 there's a different value system there, our score card is
03:19 different. So basically how has this thinking dealt with
03:26 Christianity. It's come in various ways.
03:29 I think on a previous program I mentioned how the contemporary
03:34 Christian music movement is based on the idea that worship
03:38 should make me feel good. When I leave the worship service I
03:41 should feel good about myself. Again, we talked about the truth
03:46 and error there. There's some truth there. You want to leave
03:49 service having some good thoughts, but that should not be
03:53 the whole focus. Because what has happened is as we focus more
03:57 on the self-esteem, words like sin, repentance and all of that
04:01 can get put on the back burner. Because to talk about sin you
04:05 have to talk about the sinner and to talk about the sinner
04:07 points to our lack of goodness and our unrighteousness and all
04:12 of that. So what has come into the church subtly is this idea
04:16 that don't talk about these things so much because people
04:19 won't feel too good about themselves. Does that make sense
04:22 what I'm saying? It makes sense. Then on the individual level
04:25 what I have seen happening is Christians coming into the
04:28 office when I was in private practice saying, You know, the
04:31 reason that I'm here is that I need to raise my self-esteem.
04:34 So I want you to help me with that because I know the problems
04:36 I'm having with my husband, my child is having problems, my
04:40 problems at work are because I don't feel good about myself.
04:43 So I'm coming in here so you can teach me some technique so I
04:46 can feel better about myself. And these are Christians talking
04:49 about this. So those are just some examples of how this
04:52 thinking of self-esteem has come into the Christian church.
04:54 It kind of gets a little complicated doesn't it?
04:56 It does, it really does, because as you'll see later, as we
05:02 talked about this earlier, there is truth and error there. That's
05:05 how Satan deceives us. So we want to tease out what's the
05:08 truth about that and we want to tease out the error so that I
05:11 can be open about this self- esteem movement. There was a
05:13 time you would go into book stores and all you'd see on
05:16 shelves was how do I love myself, how do you make yourself
05:20 feel better about yourself. It died down a little but it's
05:23 still there, that people believe that we have problems because
05:27 we don't esteem ourselves high enough. So that is an issue.
05:31 Dr. Parks, exactly what does the Bible say about how we should
05:36 view self? Well we have some graphics with
05:39 some Bible texts on there and if we could look at that, we'll
05:42 see an example of what the Bible tells. In Matthew 16:24, Christ
05:47 says, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and
05:52 take up his cross and follow me.
05:53 There's that sentence in there, let him deny himself.
05:58 Yes, yes. Denying self is so much different than esteeming
06:03 self. I started to say better. It actually is better than
06:06 esteeming self. It's interesting I read something by a Christian
06:11 author, he was a psychologist, and he said, We are less prone
06:15 to be affected by insults, by people who offend us and by
06:19 criticism if we deny self than if we esteem self. I thought
06:23 that was powerful. It is powerful. The world tells us to
06:27 esteem thinking that makes us feel better but really it does
06:29 not. It's when we deny self, self is dead.
06:32 Exactly. There's that firsts cousin in pride. Once pride
06:37 gets in there then it's a one upmanship and then you certainly
06:41 are not denying yourself. You're getting into this argument to
06:44 sit there to see who's going to win out and you many not even
06:47 believe in what you're arguing about.
06:49 I can relate to that on a personal level.
06:51 Well, I think that we all can. That is a human characteristic
06:55 that we all need to work on and take up that cross daily,
06:59 I mean, that's a daily walk you know. I think there are other
07:03 scriptures involved. Yes there are. Let's go to the
07:05 next scripture. In Romans 12:3 the apostle Paul tells us
07:09 For I say to every man that is among you not to think of
07:14 himself more highly than he ought to think.
07:16 I want to follow that up by actually going into the New
07:19 King James because this takes us a little bit further and I have
07:22 a thought here. For I say through the grace given to me
07:27 to everyone who is among you not to think of himself more highly
07:31 than he ought to think, but to think soberly as God has dealt
07:35 to each one a measure of faith.
07:37 That's a powerful explanation.
07:39 It's a powerful explanation isn't it, but I love anything
07:44 that has to do with measure or proportion. What we give we
07:48 receive. So here we certainly know that we are not supposed
07:52 to think of ourselves more highly, but if we do there is a
07:56 penalty to be paid. That's right, that's right.
07:59 And that's why I love how the Bible looks at self. You know,
08:03 it places us on that proper level that we should be on.
08:06 Actually there are a few more verses we have. Let's put those
08:10 up. Let each esteem the other better than themselves.
08:17 That's found in Philippians 2:3. Now we see such a difference
08:21 again between what the world is telling us, secular psychology
08:25 says esteem yourself, but God says to us through Paul, esteem
08:28 others better than yourself.
08:31 I know that certainly works well in my marriage, and it's always
08:35 been there. I think it's called respect and it's always been
08:41 my ambition the more that I can do for Shelley to lift her up
08:46 to try to promote the best that there is in her even whenever
08:52 she's down. And it is work because I have a lady that loves
08:57 me deeply. It is that sharing, it's esteeming that other person
09:02 and we have this in friendship. Does that mean that we can't
09:06 disagree? No not at all. But esteem is a whole different
09:10 category. I really like that example you
09:12 just gave, J.D., about esteeming others better than
09:15 yourself in marriage. If we would do that,
09:17 our marriages would be so much better
09:19 Not if we seek to raise self but if we seek to esteem
09:23 our partner better than ourselves.
09:25 There's somebody out there right now that needs to hear that.
09:29 Just surrender. Surrender, now that gets to be an
09:35 interesting topic right there because that means, well I don't
09:39 want anybody to control me; or wait a minute here, I give up,
09:43 I give up. That's not what he's saying right here, not at all.
09:47 I love it - Let each esteem the other better than himself.
09:57 Wow! Fantastic! There are a couple more verses
10:00 if we could look at those, put those up and read those quickly.
10:03 Now Abraham had a view of self that is in the Bible:
10:07 Genesis 18:27: And Abraham answered and said, Behold now
10:10 I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord, which am but dust
10:14 and ashes. So Abraham wasn't about esteeming self. Abraham
10:18 had a realistic view: I'm but dust and ashes. We look at
10:22 ourselves being created from what - dirt. We are but dust and
10:26 ashes. It does not fit with what we are told esteeming self,
10:29 does it? That's about as bottom-line as
10:31 you can get right there. That's about as bottom-line.
10:33 So much different than what the Bible tells us. I think there
10:38 was one more graphic we had on that: Job 25:6: This is Job
10:43 speaking: How much less man that is a worm? And the son of man,
10:48 which is a worm. You can see how secular psychologists won't
10:52 exactly like the Bible, because the Bible just gives us a
10:57 realistic view of who we are and what self is. So different
11:01 to esteeming self. But the thing is, we have to realize, if we
11:05 God's view of the Bible we will be so much more mentally
11:08 healthy. Exactly, and there is one more:
11:11 I Corinthians 15:31. Wow, let's read that one.
11:15 I Corinthians 15:31: I die daily.
11:18 We talked about the importance of dying to self, surrendering
11:22 self daily and not spending a lot of time esteeming self.
11:25 So these are just some examples of the Bible and what the Bible
11:28 tells us about the proper view of self.
11:31 It's a balanced view. It is, a very balanced view.
11:32 It is, a very balanced view. That's what I love about God,
11:35 he's a balanced God. Amen. We've all heard the verse
11:39 that thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. Some people
11:43 use that to support the notion of self-esteem.
11:45 I did that for a long time. I used to do self-esteem workshops
11:50 in the church and out of the church and that was my motto
11:53 verse. The Bible says, love your neighbor as yourself, so you see
11:56 you should love yourself. But if we really looked at that verse
12:00 and really studied it out, Jesus made that comment based on the
12:04 understanding that we naturally have an inclination to take care
12:08 of and look out for self. His thing was, Magna, you're
12:12 naturally inclined to look out for self so I want you to look
12:15 out for others and love them the way you're naturally inclined to
12:19 do. So God wasn't giving us an injunction to love ourselves.
12:23 The injunction and the command was love others in the way that
12:27 you are naturally prone to love yourself. So I no longer use
12:29 that verse because as I understood it better, it helped
12:33 me to understand he's not commanding us to love ourselves
12:36 so much as he is saying love others as you naturally love
12:39 yourself. I would assume there is that
12:41 innateness in each one of us that wants to take care of
12:45 ourselves. That's right. And that's not all
12:48 bad, it's just how far we carry that. We're built with that.
12:53 So what's the problem with the notion of self-esteem?
12:58 Well, we've kind of touched on that a little. The problem is
13:02 when we exalt self, for one we are more prone to be affected
13:06 what others think about us. When we exalt self we're more
13:09 prone to be hurt easily, criticized easily, offended
13:14 easily and then when we promote self where does God come in?
13:18 If I feel good about myself and as a results of me feeling good
13:21 life is so much better, why is there a need for God? All I have
13:24 to do is make myself feel good and life will be so much better
13:27 and God and the Holy Spirit just go out the window when
13:30 we promote and exalt self like this.
13:32 And I would think that you would get pretty lonely after a while.
13:36 I believe so. Actually within psychology in a weird kind of
13:39 way there is a recognition that some people are too much into
13:43 themselves. They call that narcissism and we recognize
13:47 that that could be a problem at times. So secular psychology
13:50 does have some things that we can learn from.
13:52 You know, going back to the pastoral department, we do get
13:55 quite a few calls from people that are identifying perhaps
13:58 their mate or someone in the family who is narcissistic
14:01 and that's becoming a term that is taking on a life of its own
14:09 today because people are beginning to see the selfishness
14:11 involved and that it's all me, it's all me. So there is that
14:16 thin line between the self esteem and narcissism.
14:19 I'm glad to hear that people are recognizing that.
14:23 Does this mean that Christians should look down on themselves?
14:28 Not at all, not at all. Some people can take concepts
14:32 sometimes and just take it to the extreme. There is an actual
14:36 graphic that puts up a quote that I just love that I think is
14:40 a proper view of self. It says: It is not pleasing to God that
14:44 you should demerit yourself. You should cultivate a self-respect
14:48 by living so that you will be approved by your own conscience,
14:52 and before men and angels... That's the key right there.
14:55 While we should not think of ourselves more highly than we
15:00 ought, the word of God does not condemn a proper self-respect.
15:04 As sons and daughters of God, we should have a conscious dignity
15:08 of character, in which pride and self-importance have no part.
15:13 That's the key. God wants us to look at ourselves and based on
15:18 how much we're following conscience, how much we're
15:21 following his word, how much we are following the principles he
15:24 has laid out for us to live. That's how he wants us to
15:27 evaluate ourselves; not by the clothes we wear, how well we do
15:31 in school, how many people like us, how many positive things we
15:34 can say to ourselves...I'm throwing out all the things that
15:38 secular psychology in some way tends to support and uphold, but
15:41 how we live before God. Self- respect is so important. I
15:45 remember recently...actually I was watching a 3ABN program...
15:49 and Dr. Anthony Paul, who is the founder of MAPS, was saying that
15:52 they're going back the Haiti to help them, but what they want to
15:56 do instead of handing out food and clothing, they want them to
16:00 earn that food and clothing. He said the reason for that...
16:03 and I just jumped up out of my seat because of my focus on
16:06 self-esteem...he says the reason for that is because we
16:09 want them to build self-respect. So God wants us to have a sense
16:13 of self-respect by what we do and how well we live. We have
16:16 to even be careful when we are helping people that we keep that
16:19 principle in mind, this is an aside, that we don't just
16:21 always hand things out. We want them to be able to realize that
16:25 they've played a part in earning what they have. And that's what
16:27 God wants us to have. He doesn't want us going around with our
16:30 heads down saying, Oh I'm a Christian, I feel so bad, Woe
16:34 is me. But he wants us to look up because he has paid such a
16:38 precious price for us. I love this right here, I just
16:41 absolutely love this. You should cultivate a self-respect by
16:45 living so that you will be approved by your own conscience,
16:48 and not only before men but also before the angels. Amen.
16:52 So boy, now that does bring in a healthy self-esteem if you can
16:58 work within the confines of your own conscience.
17:00 I mean, it's just wow, thank you Jesus.
17:06 Okay, is there any secular evidence that self-esteem is not
17:13 a healthy concept? Oh yes, there is. Not all
17:17 secular psychology embraces this idea that we should push
17:21 self-esteem. There was actually a task force in California over
17:24 20 years ago that went to people who were juvenile delinquents,
17:27 people who were in prison, women who were getting pregnant early,
17:31 the whole set of different things where people say, Oh
17:33 it's because of low self-esteem. They went through that study and
17:36 what they found was that it had little to nothing to do with
17:40 self-esteem and that's the secular world telling that.
17:44 There's also a graphic that I have, a study that was done by
17:47 a psychologist that shows the true meaning of self-esteem and
17:51 we're going to read that now. College students who base their
17:54 their self-worth on external sources including appearance,
17:58 approval from others, and even academic performance reported
18:02 high stress, anger, academic problems, relationship conflicts
18:06 and had high levels of drug and alcohol use and symptoms of
18:10 eating disorders. They were basing their self-worth on
18:14 external sources. But let's go on to see what the rest of the
18:17 study says. It tells us in the next graphic, it goes on to
18:21 continue with the study... Students who based their
18:24 self-esteem on internal sources such as being a virtuous person
18:29 or adhering to moral standards were found to have higher grades
18:35 and were less likely to use alcohol and drugs to develop
18:38 eating disorders. Do we see what's happening here? They're
18:41 saying that those who base their self-esteem on some of the
18:43 things that secular psychologists say we should,
18:45 high grades, looking good, they had more problems with drugs,
18:49 alcohol, relationship and those who based their self-esteem by
18:52 what you kind of capitalized on earlier, their own conscience
18:56 and adhering to the moral standards and virtues that they
18:59 knew, they had less problems in those areas. So this is what the
19:03 psychologist researchers came up with. In the last graphic, we
19:07 will read the results. They concluded: We really think that
19:12 if people could adopt goals not focused on their own
19:16 self-esteem but on something larger than their self, then
19:20 they would be less susceptible to some of the negative effects
19:24 of pursuing self-esteem. When I read that study, it blew my
19:27 mind. I said, Lord, again here is research telling us what the
19:31 Bible tells us; that we should live according to what God
19:35 commands us and in that way we won't have as much problems.
19:38 Did that study make sense? I kind of went through that
19:41 quickly. We did go through it quickly,
19:42 but it makes lots of sense. How do we tie that together?
19:48 How do we tie it together? Well we're working with people, the
19:51 goal is not to help them raise their self-esteem based on
19:54 external sources. When I was going through graduate school
19:58 I would tell people...not when I was in graduate school, but
20:00 after graduate school what I was taught in graduate school, now
20:02 wake up in the morning, look into the mirror and say
20:05 I feel good about myself. I'm a good person. Aren't you
20:09 beautiful, your hair is lovely your lips are lovely. Do you see
20:12 what I'm saying; all these external sources. What these
20:15 researchers found is when people focus on that they have more
20:20 problems. Because there's somebody always
20:22 that's a little prettier, her hair is a little bit nicer, her
20:26 teeth are a little bit straighter, so consequently
20:29 now you're striving for the wrong things.
20:32 There you are. But then if you work on people and say, Okay,
20:35 we're going to help you learn how you can build your sense of
20:38 self-respect, how you can live based on the standards that you
20:42 learned from your parents. If you're working with a non
20:45 Christian you can still use biblical principle and say to
20:47 them, what your parents taught you, what you know is right, if
20:50 you live based on those you will feel much better about yourself
20:53 than if you base it on all these external things. So they're
20:57 saying we could pursue self- esteem based on these internal
21:00 standards versus the outside standards, and we can be much
21:04 better people. That's what that's saying.
21:09 Amen, wow. And it's so true. It is true.
21:14 I think that some people mistake the influence that they
21:21 can have for other people in growing up. What I've recognized
21:26 is that these people that get caught up in the facade of
21:31 growing into the person that they think that they want to
21:35 be because the next door neighbor is doing it, the person
21:39 down the street is doing it, whatever, so there's a
21:41 misunderstanding of what self- esteem really is. Now as we
21:46 started off, you gave us the definition of self-esteem.
21:51 Yes, appraising or evaluating self.
21:52 Exactly. So there's where it kind of gets very complex.
21:58 Because some people have a misconception of who they think
22:02 that they want to be until they can get there and have some
22:06 experiences and they find out, well this is not who I am. This
22:10 is not who I choose to be. This is not what my grandmother,
22:14 these are not the morals that she said and she was right.
22:18 So then it kind of takes a different direction there and
22:22 this is where the Holy Spirit comes in and becomes our best
22:25 friend, becomes our comforter and it says, Hey, wait a minute,
22:29 there's a wakeup call here. We're going to give you another
22:33 chance. The Holy Spirit speaks through
22:34 that and if we listen to him he won't lead us the wrong way.
22:38 Amen. One of the things that we were talking about earlier that
22:42 caught my attention was talking about self-esteem in maybe
22:45 maybe people that were incarcerated.
22:47 Yes, Ah-ha, interesting you should bring that up. There are
22:51 studies showing that many prisoners have a high self
22:54 esteem. They think so much of themselves that it's gotten them
22:59 into trouble. That is so opposite to what I was taught.
23:03 I was taught that people who end up in prison don't feel good
23:06 about themselves and that's why they go out and rob and kill or
23:08 whatever they do. But it's completely opposite. Studies
23:11 there show that people who are more hostile, people who might
23:14 act out in the classroom, all of these people when you give them
23:18 scales, they have high self- esteem. So the studies are
23:22 showing us again that this popular notion of self-esteem is
23:26 not cracked up to what we think it should be and it's just again
23:30 going back to what the word of God tells us, denying self,
23:34 esteeming others better than than themselves, not thinking of
23:37 ourselves more highly than we ought. All of this is just going
23:40 back to God's word, just confirming what he has told us
23:43 years ago. That's what I said when I mentioned in a previous
23:47 show secular psychology does have some things it can offer is
23:51 as long as we always compare it to the word of God. That's what
23:54 we constantly have to do when we're looking at what secular
23:58 psychology says to us. If it goes along with the word of God,
24:01 we're going down the right road, if not, we're headed down a road
24:05 that may throw us off a cliff and we don't realize that.
24:08 I can see that. Let's talk about God's desire. What do you think
24:17 is God's desire for us in the arena of self-esteem?
24:22 You know, when I was growing up in the Christian church I grew
24:24 up in they used to say joy, there was a song that they
24:28 would use the word joy and I don't remember the name of that
24:31 song but in it they would say Jesus first, others second,
24:36 you last. That is God's desire for us. God should be first in
24:41 our decisions, others should be next and our expectation and
24:45 desires should be at the bottom of the scale. Notice that he
24:49 puts it in there, but it's just how we prioritize it. God's
24:53 desire for us is that whatever we do needs to be laid before
24:57 him, that whatever we decide others should be thought of more
25:00 highly than we should be thought of and that what we
25:04 think of self should be at the bottom of the level there.
25:07 You know, I think those out there who may be dealing with
25:11 this issue it really takes a retraining of the mind. I am
25:14 still retraining my mind to get this concept because I grew up
25:18 from a little girl thinking it's about you, what you're going to
25:21 do, what you're going to achieve in life, whether people please
25:25 you and I'm still asking the Lord to help me kind of retrain
25:28 those thoughts and that's something we have to constantly
25:32 do. But it's what God's desire is for us and if we do that we
25:36 will find our lives so much more easy to deal with. People would
25:40 be easy to deal with. Folks would find us easier to deal
25:43 with. It would just be a completely new and wonderful
25:47 way if we follow God's desire for us. What I said to you
25:50 earlier is so true. We don't have to quote the scripture.
25:53 I've worked with atheists before I left my practice and just used
25:57 the biblical principles. Some of them don't like it. They figured
26:01 it out and said you're using the Bible on me. But for those who
26:04 are open they recognize these principles are things that I can
26:08 live by. That's what the good thing is about the Bible and
26:11 when they apply the principles, those who come in with
26:14 depression and anxiety, these same principles when they apply
26:18 them it helps them function much better than just using secular
26:22 psychology. I know in pastoral we get so
26:24 many calls on this. I don't know where this came from but
26:28 the Lord just impressed me one day about the scriptures that
26:33 I was giving out from a biblical counseling standpoint, he was
26:37 saying get out a 3 x 5 card and write these scriptures down
26:42 because if this is an issue right now this will probably
26:46 be an issue later and you'll have a little cheat sheet right
26:49 there in front of you that you can pick up and that you can
26:52 follow accordingly. Then the Lord's going to lead you to
26:55 someone else to comfort others as you have been comforted.
26:59 So this works fantastic because the people that call daily
27:02 their hearts are broken, whatever the issue is, we can
27:06 go from suicide to a narcissistic person down to
27:12 just having cancer. But they all need the comfort from the Lord
27:16 Jesus Christ and it all comes from getting that self-esteem
27:21 right. See who you are in Jesus Christ
27:24 Paul says I glory not but in the cross; I'm kind of
27:28 paraphrasing that verse. There's nothing he can boast of except
27:31 for the Lord Jesus Christ and if we can recognize that and share
27:35 that with others, how much better our lives will be.
27:37 Amen. I just want you to know how much we appreciate you being
27:42 with us on Issues and Answers today, Dr. Parks.
27:44 It's been a blessing to be here. Very much so.
27:46 Amen, amen. Self-esteem. Self- esteem is one of those I guess
27:51 in trying to find out who we are in Jesus Christ, if we'll get on
27:56 our knees at that particular time, I'm sure that the Holy
27:59 Spirit will be your director, that he'll give you the
28:02 information that you need to make the changes in your
28:06 life. We love each and every one of you. God bless.


Revised 2014-12-17