This week, my listening to pastors while at work netted me a lot of interesting things I hadn't considered before. But one was a real jaw-dropper. Sorry, I don't drop microphones.
David Jeremiah was going through the "love is not" section of I Corinthians 13 and had landed on pride. Now, I know pride is the original sin (nice work, Lucifer) and almost everything bad that has happened on this planet can be laid at its feet. But sometimes I just want to scream at God, "Why can't a person even just have a little pride, in anything?" Usually this occurs after a great catch or wonderful deed on my part that makes me feel good, glad to be alive for a change, and followed within moments by my screwing something up.
I get that we are to be humble. I get what Jesus said in Luke 17:10:
So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants. We have done that which was our duty to do.’”
But I still feel like there should be something called self-esteem. Without it, why bother doing anything? How do we help the depressed, the suicidal? And yes, I get that we should base our worth on what God was willing to do to redeem us. Still, everyone wants to feel like a "good and faithful servant" every now and again.
So as Dr Jeremiah went on about the evils of pride, I kept telling him in my mind, "Don't forget the part where you teach the difference between pride and self-esteem." He had other ideas. In fact, he laid part of the blame for an increasingly prideful society ON the teaching of our children the necessity for self-esteem.
This is a concept I am struggling with. Can it be that our society has made us so hungry for self-worth that we have put it on a pedestal, cleaned it up and declared it noble, when it's just a facet of that original sin? It makes a wonderful sense that Satan's minions come up with the idea of "competed" trophies, non-judgmental school grades, "you tried, that's what counts" learning, to get us so used to the overboard that we don't notice the problem inherent in "legitimate" self-esteem?
I guess Peter would know what I'm talking about. He had the biggest "good thing followed by mistake" in history, going from the Rock on which the Church would be built to "Get thee behind me, Satan" in 0.5. And as such, we look at that incident, and remember what Jesus actually said at the start of that?
Matt. 16:15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”
16 Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
17 Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven..."
Even when he got it right, Peter got a reminder that it was God who clued him into it. And the more we are willing to give Him the credit, the better WE do. That is the self-esteem God intended for us. Stripped of the self-interest and self-glorification, a self-esteem that comes from obeying God and being rewarded with success in His name. And this I also get. Somehow, though, we let this self-centered version of self-esteem invade our psyches.
And it makes us miss the blessing that Peter got. He was called blessed by Jesus, not because he was smart or gave the right answer, but because God had showed him something of value. God, who made the universe from smallest to greatest, had given HIM something of His. And what better way to feel good about yourself is there?