3 Steps To Building Your Self-Esteem

A few years ago, I walked into a tanning salon where I desperately needed some color before going on my first official missions trip to Costa Rica. It’s tropical there but it was freezing here – so I
needed to fit in! Ladies, you understand. When I walked in, the 40+ year old woman working behind the desk asked me where I was headed. I told her it was Costa Rica to minister in a ladies’ meeting. I went on to say, “So many ladies have deep insecurities and low self-esteem and I want to build them up.” She interrupted me and said, “Low self-esteem? Try no self-esteem…that’s me!” I asked her why she felt that way being as beautiful and likable as she was. She went on to tell me of her abusive childhood which led to her marrying different men who also mistreated her
and abused her. She was filled with such shame and low self-esteem…but you’d never know it by looking at her. I could relate to Valerie in the same sense that I have had many deep-rooted issues of shame, inferiority and low self-esteem…covered up. But then I read this verse: “Man looks on the outward appearance, but God looks on the heart.” – 1 Samuel 16:7

In other words, you may look fine on the outside and appear that you have it all together, but on the inside you are falling apart, you’re filled with guilt and shame because of things you’ve been through in your past. God cares more about the condition of your heart than He does the style of your hair or how many times you go to church each week. He cares about the inside of you.
I recently read this from the book, The Search for Significance, “Guilt results when we’ve done something wrong. It is a feeling of remorse over something done. Shame is a feeling of inadequacy, a sense of self-loathing, with very low selfesteem. Dealing with guilt can be as simple as an apology. Overcoming shame, however, is much more challenging. Shame results from a feeling of falling short. Shame is a self-perception of value, based on failures that come from being human. You must develop healthy self-esteem in order to overcome shame.”
So, how do you develop healthy self-esteem? I have discovered 3 steps, in my own life, that have helped me break free from the shame that seemed to torment me for many years to being able to lift my head knowing that my confidence comes solely from Jesus.

#1. Open your eyes.
See yourself the way God sees you.

In order to be free from shame and guilt, you can’t be closed up on the inside and expect God to do a work in you. You have to open yourself up to Him and receive His love, His forgiveness, His acceptance. You absolutely must get consumed with God’s unconditional love for you personally. Once you’ve repented and come clean before God, leaving nothing behind, you are FORGIVEN! Immediately. God never consults your past to determine your future! He will never reject you no matter what you’ve done. You have to choose to see yourself forgiven. Hebrews 13:5-6 (Amp) says, “…for He God Himself has said, I will not in any way fail you nor give you up nor leave you without support. I will not, I will not, I will not in any degree leave you helpless nor forsake nor let you down (relax my hold on you)! {Assuredly not!} So we take comfort and are encouraged and confidently and boldly say, The Lord is my Helper; I will not be seized with alarm (I will not fear or dread or be terrified). What can man do to me?”

When God says something one time, He means it. When He says something three times, you better know how serious He is! He is pretty serious about His love and His feelings for you. He sees you pure, clean and made right before Him. You have to begin to see yourself that way. Is it easy? No. You are your own worst enemy. Your mind will gang up with the devil and tell you how much
you don’t deserve God’s love and mercy. Believe me, I’ve told myself a million times how much I don’t deserve to minister to people or lead my Dad’s ministry, but I have to choose, ON PURPOSE, to see myself the way God sees me, not the way I’ve seen myself in the past. It’s not enough to just stop listening to Satan’s lies; you will have to stop listening to your own comments about yourself.
Jesus died for the very purpose of healing your wounds, your bruises, your scars. He held His head down in shame on that Cross so that yours could be lifted up. He took care of it all, everything you’ve been through or will ever go through, in one final sacrifice. Are you going to punish yourself for a lifetime over your past mistakes and sins? It won’t make you feel any better. It will only make you mad, frustrated and miserable with yourself. In my own experiences with deep-rooted shame and guilt, I had to close my eyes and truly see the blood of Jesus washing my sins away from my head (my memories of it), to my heart (all the brokenness and wounds) to my toes (all the residue of sin gone from me). And you do, too, if you’re ever going to truly let go of those things that have pressed you down on the inside and caused you to carry shame. Maybe you’ve been able to hide your shame and guilt very well from those around you. God doesn’t want you having to work that hard to be somebody you’re not. You’re forgiven. You’re a child of God. You’re valuable and you were worth the blood of Jesus being shed for you.

Shame and guilt cause you to:

• stop the plan of God for your life
• live a wasted, miserable, “existing” life
• always wonder what you could have been or could have done
• see yourself beneath everyone else
• miss out on Opportunities God brings your way because you don’t feel deserving or qualified
• give into temptations (pressure, sin) that you know you shouldn’t, but you don’t feel valuable enough to stand up for yourself
• be someone you’re not
• hold your head down

That’s why I love what Psalm 3:3 says, “But thou O Lord art a shield for me, the glory and the lifter of my head.” God needs you to be confident with your head up and your shoulders back so you can fulfill the assignment He planned for you. Who else is going to do it? Time is wasting. Don’t be like the Israelites who circled the same dumb mountain for 40 years and it should have taken 11 days! What issue are you still dealing with from 20 years ago, 8 months ago or 2 weeks ago that has caused you to hold your head down or back out of opportunities God has brought your way?
Jesus already bought and paid for your redemption. He’s not going to the cross again. You simply have to receive the blood of Jesus washing your sins away. Is it fair? Absolutely not. Do you deserve it? Absolutely not. BUT NOBODY DOES. You’re no exception. That should make you love God that much more. You don’t deserve it. I don’t deserve it. Nothing you do on the outside will enable you to earn God’s love and forgiveness. NOTHING! You can’t be so pretty, lose weight, buy beautiful clothes, obtain wealth, attend church faithfully, and read your entire Bible each year…nothing.

I think Jesus is so awesome because He understands what you’re going through. He not only knows every bad thing we’ve ever done, but He knows why we did it. And he doesn’t hold it against us. He knows if you gave into that temptation because you were already so wounded and scarred inside that you felt you had no value anyway. He knows if you were abused and that affected your opinion of yourself so that’s why you went right back into another abusive situation. He knows why you keep repeating the same temptations and can’t seem to get control over it. He knows. He’s not mad at you. He forgives you. He loves you. There’s nothing you can do on the outside to earn God’s love and forgiveness. You have to receive it on the inside. See yourself forgiven…that’s how God sees you.

#2. Open your ears.
Hear the Word more than you hear Satan’s lies.

Just when you think you can truly be forgiven, and possibly even used by God, Satan accuses you! He has a file on you and he refers to it quite a bit. He has been keeping a record of every wrong thing you’ve ever done and all he has to do is get that file out and remind you of how unworthy you really are. He is the “accuser of the brethren” – that’s what he does for a living! Any time God’s getting ready to advance you, promote you or do a new thing in your life, you can count on it – Satan will bring up your past.

Just remember, God already knows your past, your faults, your weaknesses, and your insecurities. Even though Satan is magnifying it in your mind, it’s nothing new to God. He knew all about you when He chose you. And no matter how many times Satan reminds you of your past…you are not that sin! You are not that person! You have to rip those files up and throw them away. The past is behind you now, the plan of God is in front of you, so what is standing between you and the plan of God for your life? Nothing.
Feed what you want to live and starve what you want to die!
If you feed a stray dog, he’ll stay! If you keep feeding shame and guilt by listening to Satan’s accusations – they will stay! If you starve those feelings by not yielding to them, listening to them or entertaining them – they’ll die. How do you do that? You have to listen to God’s Word more than you’re listening to Satan’s lies. If you feed your spirit the TRUTH – it will get stronger than those old feelings.
It will require that you stop talking about it. Stop rehearsing it. Stop replaying it. I’m warning you, it will be a struggle! But the reality is that you can listen to Satan accuse you all day long and live a defeated life or you can learn to shut him up! Replace Satan’s lies with God’s truth by hearing, hearing, hearing, hearing the Word of God! Never stop. Make it a part of your daily routine. Invest in some new faith-building CDs. Become determined to gain more and more knowledge of God’s love for you so that it overrides all of Satan’s lies. Consistency is the key to change.

#3. Open your mouth.
Speak what you believe not what you feel.

Satan will question your identity based on your past performance! He even did that with Jesus. Remember when Jesus was in the wilderness fasting for 40 days and nights, and Satan came along saying, “If you’re the son of God…”? He knew Jesus was the son of God! He never doubted whether or not Jesus was the son of God. But he wanted Jesus to. And he’ll do the same thing to you.
If you’re really a Christian, then why…
If you’re really a good wife, then why…
If you’re really a good mom, then why…
He’ll question your identity based on your past performance! Well, Jesus is our example, and He never doubted Who He was. He defeated the devil by simply stating, “IT IS WRITTEN…” He spoke the Word of God and shut him up! And we have to do the same thing! Satan will lie to anyone who will listen, and if you don’t know how to make him be quiet, before long you will start agreeing with him. You have to learn to speak the Word of God not what you feel about yourself. You may not feel valuable, forgiven, chosen, clean, but you have to speak what you know not what you feel. How often? Every time the “accuser” shows up! Get predictable to him. He hates nothing more than to hear the Name of Jesus and the Word of God and pretty soon, he’ll take off!
How do your words have any power? Have you ever noticed the little guy in the black and white striped shirt during an NFL football game? That referee may weigh in at about 140 pounds and be 5’6”, but as soon as he blows that whistle that 350lb linebacker stands at attention! Why? Why does that little man have so much power over that big man? Because as soon as he blows that whistle, all of the NFL is backing him up! When you blow the whistle on shame, guilt and low self-esteem by speaking the Name of Jesus and the Word of God out of your mouth…all of heaven is backing you up! Those are the very words that cause heaven to stand at attention!
God loves you. He forgives you. He accepts you. He’s even chosen you to be His child. He has given you every weapon you will ever need to overcome Satan, you just have to pick them up and use them. He wants to heal your wounds, your scars and every bruise in your soul. He not only sent Jesus to save your life, but to be the lifter of your head.

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