Dangers of High Self-Esteem

Dangers of high self-esteem
There are times you realize that even as a Christian, you’ve bought into a non-Biblical philosophy. 

I’ve had to admit this error when it comes to the false philosophy of self-esteem.

The devastating results are everywhere, and many secular psychologists that once supported the premise of building self-esteem are now recanting. Yet, most of us are still defending self-esteem philosophy as if it were Scripture. 

But, before I go further, please let me stress that treating your children kindly and lovingly is godly. But teaching them they are wonderful is not.

For example, it's good to tell our children they are special to us. This builds their confidence in our love for them. But it's not good to tell our children they are special compared to others. This builds pride and arrogance.

Even though the self-esteem philosophy has been “Christianized” and accepted for many years, most of it is in direct opposition to the words of Scripture.

And that is why we are now experiencing problems with Generation Me, several generations of adults who are more arrogant, ungrateful, entitled, self-serving, and discontent than previous generations. Worst of all, an increasing number of narcissists are emerging, a dangerous trend indeed. 

You may feel you haven’t bought into this philosophy, but I’m not sure I've ever met a Christian mom who hasn’t accepted at least some of the harmful principles. 

And, even when we're confronted with the ways self-esteem philosophies violate Scripture, we have difficulty releasing them from our grasp. Why? Because they appeal to our human pride, and they permeate every aspect of American culture--music, entertainment, education, and church. We really have become convinced that building our child’s self-esteem is a Biblical key to his/her happiness, success, and godliness. 

How I wish that during my child-raising years someone had forced me to compare the claims of self-esteem with the principles of Scripture. 

Read more in Parts 2-7 of this series.

A revolution has overtaken our philosophy of self, and only a band of hearty resistance-fighters will keep it from taking our children captive. Are you ready to join the resistance? 

Part 2: Self-Esteem's Twisted Proverb
Part 3: Self-Esteem's Twisted Words of Christ
Part 4: Self-Esteem's Twisted Psalm
Part 5: The Old Testament Refutes Self-Esteem Philosophy
Part 6: Godly Nurture Does Not Promote High Self-Esteem
Part 7: Secular Studies Agree with the Bible

Linked to Mommy Moments Monday.


  1. Very good point. After all, we are called to humility, not pride. And what is self esteem if not pride?

    1. Yes, Kendra, I hope to make some of those distinctions in upcoming posts. Thanks for your thoughts.

  2. I definitely agree with you about humility and not encouraging pridefulness, but doesn't the Bible state that we are fearfully and wonderfully made? I think what's important is emphasising that we are all precious and wonderful because God has created us that way, rather than because we are such wonderful people by our own merit. It's a distinction that's important, but I don't want to raise my children (when I have them) to believe that they AREN'T wonderful either. We are wonderful, because we were made to be wonderful, and we have to live up to that. I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on this take on the issue. May

    1. Dear May,
      You've asked good questions.

      The Bible does say we are fearfully and wonderfully made and we are the focus of God's purpose in creation.

      But many of the self-esteem teachings define a sense of well-being and a sense of self that are in direct contradiction to the Biblical definitions. In this series, I hope to clarify those distinctions, so I hope you'll stick with me as I cover them more fully.

      And please keep asking questions and letting me hear your perspective. I appreciate hearing others' insights and appreciate being able to clarify things that I may not have explained very well.
      Bless you,

  3. Thanks for sharing this Gail - as a true member of the "me generation" I often feel out of place when I share my feelings on building my children's self-esteem, and their drive to just work harder... It is hard to explain when all my peers see personal drive the ultimate goal - just try hard, sweat more, put more effort into it... Never pray for a more clear mind, focus on God and His desires... or daily die to self...

    It's a struggle, but I hope that slowly I will build a group of peers that see this other side of life, and the joy it brings.


    1. Thanks for sharing your insights, Marissa. It helps me get a clearer view of what others are experiencing.

  4. So much of the problem is because the emphasis is on us...not where it should be. Sort of goes hand in hand with the man centered worship that is so strong in the western church that focuses so much on the "me and Jesus" way of worship.

  5. I appreciate your remarks but I think that you, like so many others, miss the point. The concept of self-esteem does not mean that we are to exalt ourselves. Certainly, the Christian life teaches humility. As Paul said, "Not I, but Christ..." However, to have a healthy self esteem does mean that we believe in the way that God views us: He created us in His image and, as His creation, knows our potential. So much, in fact, that He considered it good to send His son, Jesus, to die for our sins. God gave us grace - not because we earned it - but because HE determines our worthiness. Like the old poem says: "God don't make no junk." We are created by God . He esteems me by His love and grace. I am humbled by this because I know I don't deserve it. And..it changes me - transforms me- and I am a better person.

  6. Lack of self esteem is not our problem, not with Americans in general or American Christianity. For the Christian we are meant to die to self and become alive in Christ; "yet not I that live but Christ lives within me." We cannot crucify self and promote self-esteem at the same time. Humility is a lost concept.

    John the Baptist said of Jesus "he must increase and I must decrease." By our standards the Apostle Paul had a terrible sense of self-esteem.

  7. I was just discussing this with a friend earlier today in regards to our faith as Muslims. Self-esteem when translated into Arabic sounds like a mental illness. We should be confident in our actions, and we can only be confident in those if we are acting from sound principles based on our faith and scripture.

    Self-esteem is one of those "feel good" things that the secularised world has latched onto because it is a crutch they need. When one no longer has religion and morals to guide one's decisions, one's confidence does indeed take a nose-dive. But instead of seeing the root of the problem (abandoning the faith and structure that keeps us on the straight path [as-siraat al-mustaqeem]), we instead tell children they "are special" and can "do anything".

    I can't do just anything. I have limitations, some that extend to all humans and some that are unique to my personal situation. We are setting our children up for a lifetime of frustration by lying to them about what they are capable of doing, and when that frustration hits their soul we say "Oh no, he/she has a low self esteem!"

    It's ridiculousness.


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