Healthy self-esteem comes from loving our neighbours

An Acts of Faith column by pastor Rob Buzza

As the baby brother in a blended family of eight kids, I was either picked on or ignored growing up. My siblings, to this day, think that I was the spoiled one, but that’s not how I remembered it.

The novelty of parenting had worn off long before I came along, so the only time I spent with my parents was helping them with work around the house.

The same was true in hanging out with my brothers and sisters, and they were only too happy to pawn off their chores on little brother.  There was little effort put into building my self-esteem, but I did develop a great work ethic.

I actually grew up in a healthy, happy home and my self-esteem is fine. Others are not so fortunate. That sense of security and identity is just not there in the many dysfunctional families we see today.

The Bible says that real love “is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude” (1 Cor. 13:4,5). Notice the contrast. A loving, well-rounded person is not jealous or boastful, neither insecure nor arrogant. In an effort to make children feel better about themselves, parents today tend to praise them about everything and seldom bring correction – they just don’t want to crush them.

Even our public schools are dismantling competition so children can progress at their own pace and not feel inferior to their classmates. As a college instructor, I see the impediment caused by this over-protective and over-indulgent approach – my students wilt and often drop out when they receive any negative feedback. They just don’t seem prepared for the harsh realities of life.

The Bible says: “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider [esteem] others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Phil. 2:3,4).

Parents can help their children develop a healthy self image by teaching them that every person is designed by God, and unique, special, and gifted in some way.  Balance can be achieved by combining praise for good character, with loving correction, especially in the way we respect other people.

Healthy self-esteem comes from an emphasis on loving our neighbor as much as we tend to love ourselves (Mat. 22:39).


Rob Buzza is lead pastor at NorthRidge Church.