Humility AND Self-Esteem??

I would like to welcome Carissa Mann to the writing end of my blog. She has been a good friend and a helpful editor in my many projects, not the least this blog. So I am honored to have her do a guest post here.

Carissa is the oldest of seven, homeschooled, rebelutionary, and can be feisty at times (says me). She blogs regularly and infrequently at Lily of the Valley and Rejoice Always (among other places).


Reading in E. M. Bounds works on prayer (again!) I read about prayer and humility. His definition of humility is “to have a low estimate of ones self…” He includes some great little poems about humility:

“Never let the world break in,
Fix a mighty gulf between;
Keep me humble and unknown,
Prized and loved by God alone.”

“Let the world their virtue boast,
Their works of righteousness;
I, a wretch undone and lost,
Am freely saved by grace;
Other title I disclaim,
This, only this, is all my plea,
I the chief of sinners am,
But Jesus died for me.

“O that now I might decrease!
O that all I am might cease!
Let me into nothing fall!
Let my Lord be all in all.”

Wow! That is how I want to be! Sadly, I find I fall quite short.

Thinking about this subject of humility, I was sitting at the table doing… something, and I heard Zig Ziglar talking to Papa. (Okay, so it was a recording!) Anyway, he was talking about self-esteem. And I, being ever so intellectual, was thinking, How can you possibly be both humble and esteem yourself well?

And, being the wise and curious person that I am, (haha) I asked my dear and very wise Papa just that. (Well, I didn’t say those exact words…)

Well, being the wonderful Papa that he is, he shut off Mr. Ziglar (sorry Zig!), and explained to me that we should realize that God made us, and that he created us in His image. Therefore, to look down on ourselves would be to look down on one of His creations. So to a Christian, Self-esteem is really God-esteem. The only reason we are worth anything is because God created us and loved us and saved us. Without Him, we are utterly, completely worthless, helpless, and unsaved.

So I think you can figure out how that works out. We are humble because we realize that we are worthless and can’t save ourselves, and deserve the wrath of God. But we esteem the work that God has done in creating and saving and loving us.

Now that we hopefully have a clearer picture of how this all works out in theory, here is a practical example:

One case where you need both humility and “self (God) esteem” is when you are teaching someone. (This example is also from my Papa)   If you have an attitude of just “humility” you’ll be like, “I’m a sinner, I can do nothing, I’m terrible at this, we might as well all go home.” If you just have “great self esteem” you will be like, “Oh, I have this humility thing down just right. Y’all just watch me and you’ll see how to do it. I am always humble.” If you have both mindsets, you can tell them openly that you still struggle with this, but by the grace of God, you have been able to make progress in this area, and you’d like to share what you’ve been taught with them.

I don’t know about you, but I struggle more with pride than with having a low view of my self. 🙂 So, how do we gain more humility?

There are many ways we can humble ourselves; For example, admitting that you were wrong about something and asking forgiveness, taking a younger sibling’s advice and correction (this one is particularly hard for me), not taking/seeking recognition for something you’ve done, and so on. Also, the more we learn about God and how BIG He really is, the more we will gain a proper view of ourselves.

Hopefully that made some sense! Feel free to add your own thoughts in the comments!


15 Responses

  1. Excellent perspective, Carissa! I especially like the thought towards the end- as our understanding of God is increased and broadened, our perception of ourselves becomes much more realistic and appropriate. 🙂

    Very practical, well written post!

    • Thank you, Steven! I think the movie “Indescribable” (Louie Giglio) is very good for that… it helps you to start to realize how enormous the universe is and how much bigger God is… and then, how very, very tiny you are. haha. 🙂

      Glad it was helpful! Hehe, I didn’t really do much other than write it, though… my dad and Jay helped a lot with content. 🙂

    • Exactly: only a Biblical mindset can give you the perspective you need to understand ourselves and our relation to others. Thanks for the comment!

  2. Very good post. There does need to be that balance of humility and God-esteem–I prefer the term “confidence”, but that’s just me! 🙂

    Thanks for sharing that poem too. That was powerful.

    • Thank you, Tim! Yes, it’s important to have that balance. Confidence works as well. Haha.

      You’re welcome. I really appreciated those as well. 🙂

    • Confidence is another good word. Of course you still need to specify in what is your confidence. 🙂 Thanks for the comment!

  3. Well written and well thought, Carissa, and I love the poem. 🙂

    One thought I would add in connection to what you have already shared…I think we (disciples of God also called “Christians”) mistakenly interpret verses such as Philippians 2:3 as essentially saying we are to have a low view of ourselves (“Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves”); but really, it is not calling us to have a low view of ourselves (in accordance with the truths you espoused above) it is calling us to an very high view of others. 🙂 It’s not a negative command…it’s a positive command and interpreted from a positive point of view is actually a higher standard than from a negative. 🙂

    Thanks for the post, Carissa and Jay! It blessed my morning. 🙂

    • Thanks Mark! I like the poems as well. 🙂

      Ah, very good! Thanks for adding that.

      You’re welcome. Haha, if you knew all that we went through to get this particular post up today… you’d be even more thankful. 😀

    • Very good insight Mark! Thank you for the comment, it is encouraging.

  4. Good stuff.

    “The older you grow, and the more you see, the less reason you have for being proud. Ignorance and inexperience are the pedestal of pride; once the pedestal is removed-pride will soon come down.”

    ~ J.C. Ryle, “Thoughts for Young Men.”

  5. I’m proud of you baby! 🙂

    Love Mummy

  6. Just want to say what a great blog you got here!
    I’ve been around for quite a lot of time, but finally decided to show my appreciation of your work!

    Thumbs up, and keep it going!


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