The term “self-esteem” is a loaded one in the world of education. For those of you who’ve been around schools for a while you remember eras when a lot of emphasis was placed on building up a child’s self-esteem and sense of self-worth. Many lauded these efforts as positive ones that helped students gain confidence that led to success. Others derided these initiatives as empty “feel good” exercises that ignored achievement or hard work; think of the Stuart Smalley character on Saturday Night Live who exclaimed “I’m Good Enough, I’m Smart Enough, and Doggone It, People Like Me!”
I’ve been thinking about this idea of “self-esteem” in the context of our theme for this school year “New in Christ” based on 2 Corinthians 5:17. Our special subtheme for January is “New in Christ: Put on your “new self” esteem!” based on Ephesians 4:24: “Put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.” Instead of focusing on a child’s “self-esteem” I prefer to emphasize their “new self” esteem – the worth and value they possess not because of their own achievements or identity, but because they are a forgiven and redeemed child of God. The value each of us possesses is not a product of what we’ve done but rather what God has done for us. We are made in the image of God and our worth and accomplishments are derived solely from Him. As we learn in 2 Corinthians 3:5: “Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God.” Rejoice and celebrate your “new self” created for you by Christ!