Self-Esteem: Why Christian Girls Don’t Need it

By: Kristen Clark

Meet Jenny. She’s a tall and lanky high school girl who wishes she was shorter and prettier.

Jenny hates the way she looks. She’s never had a boyfriend and blames it on the fact that she’s too tall and too ugly. Years of bitterness and anger turn Jenny into a depressed young woman.

Her parents decide to take her to a counselor.

After hearing about her problems, the counselor explained to Jenny that she suffered from having low self-esteem. The counselor said that the solution to this problem is to simply love and accept herself more.

Like Jenny, millions of girls around the world are struggling with similar feelings about themselves. It makes sense too! We live in a culture that promotes bone-skinny models as “beautiful” and encourages girls to “hook up” at a young age.

It’s easy to feel insecure, ugly and out of place in a world with so many expectations.

True confession here: When I was younger, I had a serious case of I-hate-my-nose. I didn’t like the way my thick nose sat on my face at all! I dreamed of having a slender, super skinny nose and secretly thought about getting nose surgery one day.

Why did I hate my nose so much? Honestly, it’s because a lot of supermodels and famous actresses had skinny little noses and I wanted to be pretty like them. For me, beauty meant that I needed to have a skinny nose.

Whether it’s your nose, your hair, your body, your social status, your “likes” on Facebook, or something else…we all struggle with feeling like we’re not “good enough” from time to time.

In order to come up with a solution for this epidemic of people feeling bad about themselves, psychologists invented the term “self-esteem.” I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase before.

In fact, maybe you’ve even been labeled with it.

I’m sure I would have been given that label when I struggled with the I-hate-my-nose syndrome.

So what exactly is self-esteem anyways? Here’s how most people define it: “Feelings of worth based on your skills, accomplishments, status, financial resources, or appearance.” [1]

Wow! No wonder why so many girls get labeled as having low self-esteem problems. Unless you think you’re the best thing since sliced bread (in every category of life) you’re probably going to struggle with some feelings of worthlessness.

As good as the term self-esteem sounds, it has two MAJOR flaws.

One: It’s entirely based on how YOU feel about yourself.
Two: The solution to solving the problem is to “love” yourself more.

A doctor named Christina Hibbert explains 5 reasons for why she thinks self-esteem is a myth. She says, “We can never build a permanent sense of our own worth if we base our worth on things that are bound to change. This is why self-esteem is a myth:

1. Self-esteem is based on what we do and how we behave.
2. Self-esteem is based on how we feel about ourselves.
3. Self-esteem is based on what we think about ourselves.
4. Self-esteem is based on how we’re doing compared to others.
5. Self-esteem is based entirely on judgments, whether from others or from ourselves.”

As Christian girls, we know that our worth and value doesn’t come from what other people think about us or from how well we perform in life. Our worth and value has nothing to do with us “earning” it. We can love ourselves to the moon and back and will still struggle with feelings of worthlessness.

Why? Because we aren’t good enough on our own.

Psalm 16:2 says, “You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you.”

Apart from Christ you don’t have anything to be proud of. You have nothing worth boasting about on your own. In fact, apart from Christ all of your good works are like filthy rags to God (Isaiah 64:6).

The only way to completely overcome low self-esteem is to recognize where your “good” comes from. Christ is the only good in you. He is the one you should be focused on loving and esteeming.

What we all need is less SELF-esteem and more CHRIST-esteem.

Remember Jenny from the beginning? If she takes the route of loving herself more to boost her self-esteem, she won’t find lasting security. Even if she had a boyfriend and learned how to accept her height, she would still find something else to feel worthless about.

Until Jenny learns to view her height, body, and looks as a creative masterpiece of her loving Savior, she will never be happy. She will always compare herself to other girls. Until she can learn to gratefully accept the body God gave her, she will not be content. Until she finds her security in Christ and not a boyfriend, no amount of guy attention will satisfy.

The best way to fix low self-esteem issues is to set ourselves aside and instead focus on esteeming our Savior, Jesus. I know that might sound cheesy, but it’s true.

A girl whose heart and mind are diligently focused on serving God, loving His people, and sharing His gospel rarely has time to feel worthless.

A girl who knows she’s made in the image of God and is uniquely designed by her Creator will dismiss the lies of the enemy that she’s worthless. A girl who has never had a boyfriend can still feel valuable because she’s focused on God’s opinion of her and not what her friends think.

I love how Leslie Ludy puts it. “When we let self fade into the background and become consumed with Jesus Christ, our personal insecurities will melt away. We no longer look to ourselves – our own merit, talent, beauty, or uniqueness – to find confidence. Instead, we learn to find our confidence in who He is, rather than in who we are.”

The next time you’re feeling down about yourself, stop and ask yourself these three questions:

1. Am I focused on serving Christ right now, or serving myself?
2. Am I more concerned with what people think about me or what God thinks about me?
3. Am I displaying a heart of ingratitude or gratitude to God right now?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic!

If you, or someone you know, has ever been labeled with a “low self esteem” problem, what was the solution? What is Christ-centered or man-centered?

Notes: [1]

Photo credit: | Victoriia Z

Girl happy on beach

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  • Briana Soto

    I love this post so much. So right now I am at school waiting to help serve our school’s football teams and it is a bit intimidating. Ok so yesterday I was really worried about how I looked compared to the other 3 girls who were here to help. After I read this post I realized I’m here to help serve the players not serve me so I needed to stop looking at myself and start focusing on having a servents heart for God. Thank y’all so much yall have been a true blessing to me. I am proud to call y’all my sister’s in Christ.

    • Thanks for sharing Briana! I am so glad this blog post helped you to focus on serving Christ instead of yourself. 🙂

  • JessicaLetchford

    Click LIKE button now!

    Thanks for this; it was good to define self-esteem because I think I am on the right track, but what I call self-esteem (which is seeing myself as God sees me) and what the world sees as self-esteem are two different things, so establishing what is healthy and isn’t was good to do.

    • Thanks Jessica! You’re right, it’s always a good idea to defined terms.

  • Mama Baird

    Great job Kristen! So lovingly truthful! Very practical!

  • KimberlyAmici

    I love that you are debunking this myth of self-esteem. It’s just the pep talk I needed plus looking for to reading it to my girls.

    • So glad you found it encouraging Kimberly! I hope your girls like it too.

  • Tara

    Incredible article! Thank you so much!

    • Thx for reading Tara! Keep shining for Him.

  • Lisa Hallahan

    This was awesome! Thank you for writing it Kristen. I struggle with this and I am always reminded to find my security and identity in Jesus and His love for me. I loved it! Great job. =)

    • Thanks Lisa! This is def something we all need to be reminded of. 🙂

  • Rosalie

    THANKS SO MUCH FOR POSTING THIS! This is such a huge encouragement and challenge to me!

  • Jaryn Froah

    This article is exactly what I needed as I have had I-hate-my-hair syndrome the last couple weeks. Thank you so much 🙂

  • callie

    I understand the point you are making, and for the audience and demographic that reads your blog, you are correct. However, please do not dismiss “self-esteem” as a negative or worthless thing. Girls and women that have been habitually abused verbally or physically will always battle with feeling worthless or useless – as they were told or shown they were by the abuser. Their battle to feel “self-esteem” is vastly different than the oh-poor-me-my-nose-is-too-big person.

    Take care not to throw everyone together and assume that someone struggling to see themselves as a unique person worthy of love and life is the same as someone wishing their hair was thicker.

    • Hi Callie, thanks so much for your feedback! We completely agree that girls who have been abused will potentially struggle with more intense feelings of worthlessness. However, the answer to their worth and value is still found in the same place as the girl who hates-her-hair. The label and solution of “low self-esteem” can be even more damaging to a girl who has been harshly abused because there’s no lasting (rock solid) hope or security found there.
      No matter what we’ve been told by other people (whether it’s the pressure to be pretty or harsh words from an abuser) God’s truth is still the answer. The healing process will probably take longer for a girl who has been abused, but in the end, she will only become “whole” when she looks to Christ for her entire identity.

  • Jacey Faith

    I have often felt discontent with my height, hair color, facial features and almost everything else. But whenever I feel like I’m just a worthless piece of trash, I can feel God sending me a loving reminder that I’m a beautiful treasure in his eye no matter what the world thinks. It gives me comfort all the time. I pray for the thousands of girls who don’t have such a loving reminder, it must feel very disheartening.

  • Merci

    Thank you so much for this post. I was really encouraged as I have always hated my nose. ^^

  • VT

    Please provide many more scriptures and do not twist scriptures to make your point..

  • Hurricane

    Let me get this straight: So if I’m suffering from these feelings of inadequacy and worthlessness, I need to realize that the whole concept of self esteem is a myth and a lie. I need to focus less on myself and more on what God wants from me, and then I’ll be so fulfilled that I all these negative feelings will just disappear? I feel like you are belittling the problems that many young girls face. If the issue is that they don’t like their nose or something like that, yes maybe they need a little perspective on what is important in life but please don’t be so dismissive of the power that these negative thoughts and feelings can have on young people. What happens when a girl follows your advice here and the feelings don’t go away? Do you see how that could make the problem worse, because not only does the girl now have these troubling thoughts that have gone on untreated even longer now, but also we have now heaped onto of her additional feelings of not being a good enough Christian, otherwise her faith in God should have fixed all this. Depression is a real issue, a medical issue, in people and shouldn’t be brushed off. These negative self thoughts are often the first signs of depression and we need to pay attention to them and not patronize the young women with talk about how it’s a myth.

    • Phoebe Saywell

      Sorry but I don’t quite agree with you on this. I think that if I am working for the LORD, and keeping Him and other people in my thoughts all the time there isn’t time to think about the inadequacies of myself. I really believe that depression is just feeling sorry for yourself all the time, and the way to ‘cure’ depression is to think about what God has done for you. Also, we need to remember that we all have someone to talk to…God! There is no reason that medical attention and the assistance of anti-depressants should be used on a christian.

      • Hurricane

        You’re just trolling with this comment…. right?

      • Cappy

        This outlook is why I am the way I am today. I believed for so long that if I leaned on God and believed in him to the fullest, my feelings would go away. That is a load of carp. I believed I was worthless to God and myself so I attempted suicide.

        It’s a horrible way to look at life. It does no good to anyone.

    • Tyra

      I understand what you mean and of course girls can still struggle with feelings of not measuring up and depression. However you’re very wrong on one point. No one is supposed to focus on “what God wants from them” or try to be a “good enough Christian”. That’s not the right perspective. You should focus on understanding more and more how God loves you just the way you are. He knows exactly what you struggle with and that you’re not perfect. He knows that even when you know what’s right and wants to do what’s right you sometimes end up doing the wrong thing anyway. And He loves you anyway. And from that perspective, that you know how much He loves you, you’ll love Him back and want to do better every time you fail.

      • Cappy

        Except when you can’t do better. Those thoughts of doubt in your min at 2 AM when your best just wasn’t good enough.

        So you were nice to that girl? Too bad, because while you were nice to her, ten more got their feelings hurt.

        You fed a homeless cat? You just hacked away some of the grass, the roots are still there. It’ll die later, you just prolonged it.

        So you helped someone who was homeless? Maybe two streets over someone killed another human being.

  • Janet Alero

    thanks so much for posting this! Its always been something that I struggled with and recently started talking to my parents about it. They told me all of these things! may god bless you!

  • Edidiong Bassey

    I live in Nigeria, but i just love your blog.

  • Nely

    Glad I found this. Its true when I preoccupy myself with my features instead of Christ I get so sad and depressed about the way I look. I get so upset about my face and body, but when I start to put my eyes on Christ it changes.

  • Annika

    Hi. I’m a little iffy on this point of view. I struggle with self-worth myself (having a form of autism, being one of the few who is still single in their junior year of High School, etc.), but I feel like I’ve been getting joy from helping those around me. However, I’ve also been told that I also need to make myself feel needed. You’re basically saying that how we feel about ourselves doesn’t matter. I do believe, to a point, it does. I’ve heard that you can’t love others without loving yourself. Shouldn’t a girl also take time to also realize how she is herself while also seeing how God sees her?

  • Jo

    I totally needed this post. Thanks so much!! You have blessed me!!

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