Friday, May 26, 2006

Don't Believe in Yourself

A re-post from November 28, 2005.

It is not uncommon for people to struggle with insecurity and knowing who they are. A popular "cure" to this insecurity is to, "Believe in yourself,"and "Believe that you can do it." But is this advice something Christians should follow?

It is evident that some Christians are following it. A question was sent to Christian psychologist, Dr. James Dobson, asking, "How can parents prepare their younger children for the assault on self-esteem that is almost certain to come in adolescence? That was a tough time for me, and I want it to be easier for my kids."

Dr. Dobson, a psychologist who is lauded in some circles for his superb "Christian psychological advice" answered with this:

"Well, one important approach is to teach boys and girls valuable skills with which they can compensate in years to come. They can benefit from learning something that will serve as the centerpiece of their self-concept during the difficult years.This would include learning about basketball, tennis, electronics, art, music, or even raising rabbits for fun and profit. It's not so much what you teach your child. The key is that he or she learns something with which to feel good when the whole world seems to be saying, 'Who are you and what is your significance as a human being?'The teenager who has no answer to those questions is left unprotected at a very vulnerable time of life. Developing and honing skills with which to compensate may be one of the most valuable contributions parents can make during the elementary school years. It may even be worth requiring your carefree kid to take lessons, practice, compete and learn something he or she will not fully appreciate for a few more years."

By saying that teens should derive their self esteem from their own talents, knowledge, and abilities, Dr. Dobson seems to be echoing the "Believe in yourself" philosophy. But is this thinking biblical or does it come from secular philosophy?

Secular Humanism, according to the Greek philosopher Protagoras, is a belief that basically states that "man is the measure of all things." Man is considered completely autonomous and self sufficient. Reason, truth, and morality are all dependent on what man decides it to be, for he is "the measure of truth." Following that line of thinking, if a man believes that he can accomplish something (i.e. "Believes in himself") then he can, for man himself decides what is truth. This is directly contrary to the Bible, which not only shows man governed by God, but also reveals man's worthlessness apart from Him.

Abraham revealed the state of all men when he plainly stated, "I am nothing but dust and ashes..." (Gen. 18:27) Likewise, David said, "Man is like a breath; his days are like a fleeting shadow." (Psalm 144:4) The Preacher of Ecclesiastes says that man's persuits are futile and without value. "I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind." (Ecclessiastes 1:14) With these verses in mind, saying that men should search for their value within is merely the indulgence of pride and folly, for, according to the Bible, man's own merit in and of himself equals zero.

Though man is worth nothing by himself, he has become of unmeasurable value because he is unmeasurably precious to God. God loved man, in spite of man's sinfulness. He sent His Son to take the punishment for sin in our stead, so that we might live. (John 3:16, Romans 6:23) When a person can rest secure in God's value of them, they will no longer need a high esteem of their own talents and knowledge.

Belief in one's own abilities should be called by its rightful name: pride. The encouragement of the belief in one's own abilities is the encouragement of pride, which is sin and leads to destruction.

With all of that said, this whole post could be quickly summed up in the following words: Do not believe in yourself. Believe in God.

Posted by Hannah Beth

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Blogger Prayer Warrior said...

Hey and how are you doing to day I dont know if you will but please if you would pray I would be grretfull my little has 2 lumps on the side of her neck and I am trying to get her in to day to be seen because lumps just dont pop up like that expict clots because I get thoes because of bad surulationin my leggs but never in my neck so please if you would pray for her to day thanks and GOD BLESS

May 26, 2006 11:35 AM  
Anonymous hannah michelle said...

Good post, good reminder. Anymore it seems like people define you by what you do, not who you are because of Who you serve...

May 26, 2006 12:45 PM  
Blogger Ednella said...

In the back of my mind I have a nebulous shadow of that post. All I remember was that I liked it, and I liked it again this time! It is a very hot topic these days.

May 26, 2006 3:25 PM  
Blogger Elizabeth Ellen Moore said...

Self-esteem based on our own actions and talents will always fail. There will be someone more talented or smart to outdo any skill that we put our trust in. Our opinion of ourselves should come from the knowledge that we are made in God's image, and our lives are in His hands. Thank you for this post!

May 27, 2006 9:31 AM  
Blogger One Salient Oversight said...

While it is always important to recognise and understand the skills that we have, basing our self-worth upon them is wrong. One of the biggest lies of the "believe in yourself" idea is that people often think that they can achieve anything they put their minds to.

This is the teaching of people like Tony Robbins and, increasingly, of Christian pastors like Joel Osteen.

The problem arises when people eventually fail to reach their own expectations. After believing in themselves for so long, to fail is to essentially lose faith in yourself. The solution pandered by these teachers is that the person's faith and belief is not strong enough... which is tantamount to saying that it's your fault you failed.

It's not the quantity of faith that you have, but who you have your faith in, that counts. Don't have faith in youself, have faith in Christ.

May 28, 2006 8:56 PM  
Blogger Prayer Warrior said...

Just wanted to say I enjoyed the post and I also wanted to ask you somthing I wanted to know all of your opinon on the gift of De-sern-ment and being able to see demions (sorry I am a bad speller) thanks and I do enjoy every thing you right GOD BLESS

May 29, 2006 1:50 AM  
Anonymous Beth said...

i enjoyed the post. it was great! keep up the good work...

May 29, 2006 9:29 PM  
Anonymous Maureen said...


You do such a nice job with your blog. I've enjoyed keeping up with it.

I started a project this week to help those homeschoolers new to blogging. Would you consider contributing to "The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Homeschool Bloggers"? I have the details on my blog.

If you have time....thanks!

May 30, 2006 10:59 AM  
Anonymous Deborah said...

I'm not sure precisely what you meant by your comments on Dr. Dobson's advice. You seem to call into question whether or not his advice in general is "Christian" based on his answer to this one question. On the page you linked to, you could click to read a related question and answer. In that answer Dr. Dobson says, "What greater sense of self-worth could there be than knowing that the Creator of the universe is aquainted with me personally? That He values me more than the possessions of the entire world; that He understands my fears and my anxieties; that He reaches out to me in immeasurable love when no one else cares; that He actually gave His life for me; that He can turn my liabilities into assets and my emptiness into fullness... this is true self-worth at its richest, dependent not on the whims of birth or social judgment or the cult of the superchild but on divine decree."

It does not appear to me that Dr. Dobson is echoing the "Believe in yourself" philosophy of secular humanism. He actually seems to agree with your conclusion that, "Though man is worth nothing by himself, he has become of unmeasurable value because he is unmeasurably precious to God."

May 31, 2006 11:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This post has been removed by a blog administrator.

June 16, 2006 9:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Don't believe in yourself, believe in me who believes in you!"

October 30, 2007 10:45 PM  

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