Self-Esteem: Good or Bad?
By Mark Anthony
I have for some time wanted to explore the idea of “The Value of Self-Esteem”. I remember as a new Christian the issue of Self- Esteem came up often. It was a unit of measurement that nearly all placed themselves under to see if they were maturing as Christians. To me, at the time, like many, saw this measuring as needed. Although a person could not quantify the Holy Spirit’s work in a persons life, the visual effects of behavior could be evaluated. The LORD would say:
Matthew 12:33 (ESV)
33 "Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad, for the tree is known by its fruit.
So before we get to far along on this topic we need to view the definitions of “Self-Esteem” and where it comes from, “Psychology”. We will also see the outcome of “Psychology as it has become the skeleton for “Progressive Philosophies” to hang upon. In a time line, it has only taken roughly 120 years and the work of three generations of progressive scholars to accomplish the reality of social engineering. Wikipedia helps us greatly, to see this, let’s take a look.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Self-esteem is a term used in psychology to reflect a person's overall evaluation or appraisal of his or her own worth. Self-esteem encompasses beliefs (for example, "I am competent" or "I am incompetent") and emotions such as triumph, despair, pride and shame. A person's self-esteem may be reflected in their behaviour, such as in assertiveness, shyness, confidence or caution. Self-esteem can apply specifically to a particular dimension (for example, "I believe I am a good writer, and feel proud of that in particular") or have global extent (for example, "I believe I am a good person, and feel proud of myself in general").
Psychologists usually regard self-esteem as an enduring personality characteristic ("trait" self-esteem), though normal, short-term variations ("state" self-esteem) also exist.
Synonyms or near-synonyms of self-esteem include: self-worth, self-regard, self-respect, self-love (which can express overtones of self-promotion), and self-integrity. Self-esteem is distinct from self-confidence and self-efficacy, which involve beliefs about ability and future performance.
Psychology, the History of
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
German physician Wilhelm Wundt is known as the "father of experimental psychology," because he founded the first psychological laboratory, at Leipzig University in 1879. Wundt focused on breaking down mental processes into the most basic components, starting a school of psychology that is called structuralism. Edward Titchener was another major structuralist thinker.
Functionalism formed as a reaction to the theories of the structuralist school of thought and was heavily influenced by the work of the American philosopher and psychologist William James. In his seminal book, Principles of Psychology, published in 1890, he laid the foundations for many of the questions that psychologists would explore for years to come. Other major functionalist thinkers included John Dewey and Harvey Carr.
Other 19th-century contributors to the field include the German psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus, a pioneer in the experimental study of memory who discovered the learning and forgetting curve at the University of Berlin; and the Russian-Soviet physiologist Ivan Pavlov, who discovered classical conditioning theory of learning whilst investigating the digestive system of dogs.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
John Dewey (October 20, 1859 – June 1, 1952) was an American philosopher, psychologist, and educational reformer whose ideas have been influential in education and social reform. Dewey, along with Charles Sanders Peirce and William James, is recognized as one of the founders of the philosophy of pragmatism and of functional psychology. He was a major representative of the progressive and progressive populist philosophies of schooling during the first half of the 20th century in the USA.
Although Dewey is known best for his publications concerning education, he also wrote about many other topics, including experience, nature, art, logic, inquiry, democracy, and ethics.
In his advocacy of democracy, Dewey considered two fundamental elements—schools and civil society—as being major topics needing attention and reconstruction to encourage experimental intelligence and plurality. Dewey asserted that complete democracy was to be obtained not just by extending voting rights but also by ensuring that there exists a fully-formed public opinion, accomplished by effective communication among citizens, experts, and politicians, with the latter being accountable for the policies they adopt.
I think if we can see the links between “the individual, the study of the nature of the individual, a system assessing and defining normal for an individual, a structure to train individuals according to what is deemed acceptable by experts and lastly, society, an outlet for an individual to interact,” we will see a very large laboratory where we are seeing in full view, a society built upon “the sand.” Let’s look at the Psychologist building blocks of “stimulus and response,” we will see the beginning of how to quantify and control behavior.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The kerplunk experiment was a famous stimulus and response experiment conducted on rats and demonstrates the ability to turn voluntary motor responses into a conditioned response. The purpose of the experiment was to get kinaesthetic feedback rather than guidance through external stimuli through maze learning. It was conducted in 1907 by John B. Watson and Harvey A. Carr and was named after the sound the rat made after running into the end of the maze. The study would help form a chain of responses hypothesis proposed by Watson.
The studies findings would later give credibility to stimulus and response interpretations that rewards work by strengthening the learned ability to show a habitual motor action in the presence of a particular stimulus.
Rats were trained to run in a straight, alley like maze for a food reward which was located at the end of the alley. Watson found that once the rat was well trained, it performed almost automatically on reflex. Upon learning the maze over time, they started to run faster through each length and turn. By the stimulus of the maze, their behavior became a series of associated movements, or kinaesthetic consequences instead of stimulus from the outside world. This routine continued until the length of the path changed, either farther or shorter.
If the conditioned rats were released into an alleyway or path that was shortened, they would run straight into the end of the wall making a "kerplunk" sound. The first trial found that they would run full speed, passing up the food that had been moved closer. Shortening the alleyway, and moving the food closer was an early signal that was ignored by the rats.
If the path was longer, the rats would run as usual until it reached their customary distance, the distance at which the food would normally be. They would then pause to sniff the area even though they had not reached the end of the alley, often ignoring food that was farther away.
How to view this experiment
As you can see, the scientist discovered what the rats responded to, then manipulated certain outcomes, “habitual motor actions” were then conditioned in the rats to the point that the rats would even harm themselves to maintain the “habitual motor action.” So what does this have to do with “Self Esteem? Easy connection, once you quantify behavior and train to condition responses, you can to a great degree control that person if you have the right resources to match their needs. If you can control a person, then you can control a nation. Controlled stimulus and responses have been used in commercial’s for years. If a commercial makes you laugh and gives you a moment of joy, then when you see the same label you saw on TV while shopping, you are more likely to have a emotional tie to that product. That same idea goes for any product, from a candy bar to an automobile. The idea of stimulus and response really works. Since the advent of Televsion, Computer’s and othe mass media we have the ability to see whole nations moved to response by the stimulus of the evening news. It is by this mass media we are being conditioned to measure ourself against, it truly uses “self–esteem” as a building block to bring society towards a desired end. Now the question is what is that end? Where are we going? As Christian’s how shall we act to respond to such manipulation?
So what is a Christian to do?
Even in our churches, this is taking place. We are no longer focused on Christ and being Christ-Centered, but have been lured into the place of the “consumer,” having all our needs taken care of both spiritual and emotional. Many believers, some who have come out of these seeker friendly churches, as they have seen good Bible teaching replaced with programs to meet the demands of society, have seen this as a Purpose Driven Deception.
So what is the Godly response?
I guess the best thing to do is to look to a man who stood against the tide. Although I could easily look towards our Lord’s time on earth for this example, I wanted to use a person whom the Lord acted upon, to see how he responded when he came against the tide of his time. Let’s look at Nehemiah for our examples.
The Situation & Nehemiah’s Prayer
Nehemiah 1:1-11 (NKJV)
1 The words of Nehemiah the son of Hachaliah. It came to pass in the month of Chislev, in the twentieth year, as I was in Shushan the citadel,
2 that Hanani one of my brethren came with men from Judah; and I asked them concerning the Jews who had escaped, who had survived the captivity, and concerning Jerusalem.
3 And they said to me, "The survivors who are left from the captivity in the province are there in great distress and reproach. The wall of Jerusalem is also broken down, and its gates are burned with fire."
4 So it was, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned for many days; I was fasting and praying before the God of heaven.
5 And I said: "I pray, Lord God of heaven, O great and awesome God, You who keep Your covenant and mercy with those who love You and observe Your commandments,
6 please let Your ear be attentive and Your eyes open, that You may hear the prayer of Your servant which I pray before You now, day and night, for the children of Israel Your servants, and confess the sins of the children of Israel which we have sinned against You. Both my father's house and I have sinned.
7 We have acted very corruptly against You, and have not kept the commandments, the statutes, nor the ordinances which You commanded Your servant Moses.
8 Remember, I pray, the word that You commanded Your servant Moses, saying, 'If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the nations;
9 but if you return to Me, and keep My commandments and do them, though some of you were cast out to the farthest part of the heavens, yet I will gather them from there, and bring them to the place which I have chosen as a dwelling for My name.'
10 Now these are Your servants and Your people, whom You have redeemed by Your great power, and by Your strong hand.
11 O Lord, I pray, please let Your ear be attentive to the prayer of Your servant, and to the prayer of Your servants who desire to fear Your name; and let Your servant prosper this day, I pray, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man." For I was the king's cupbearer.
The Outcome of Nehemiah’s Prayer
Nehemiah 2:1-11 (NKJV)
1 And it came to pass in the month of Nisan, in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, when wine was before him, that I took the wine and gave it to the king. Now I had never been sad in his presence before.
2 Therefore the king said to me, "Why is your face sad, since you are not sick? This is nothing but sorrow of heart." So I became dreadfully afraid,
3 and said to the king, "May the king live forever! Why should my face not be sad, when the city, the place of my fathers' tombs, lies waste, and its gates are burned with fire?"
4 Then the king said to me, "What do you request?" So I prayed to the God of heaven.
5 And I said to the king, "If it pleases the king, and if your servant has found favor in your sight, I ask that you send me to Judah, to the city of my fathers' tombs, that I may rebuild it."
6 Then the king said to me (the queen also sitting beside him), "How long will your journey be? And when will you return?" So it pleased the king to send me; and I set him a time.
7 Furthermore I said to the king, "If it pleases the king, let letters be given to me for the governors of the region beyond the River, that they must permit me to pass through till I come to Judah,
8 and a letter to Asaph the keeper of the king's forest, that he must give me timber to make beams for the gates of the citadel which pertains to the temple, for the city wall, and for the house that I will occupy." And the king granted them to me according to the good hand of my God upon me.
9 Then I went to the governors in the region beyond the River, and gave them the king's letters. Now the king had sent captains of the army and horsemen with me.
10 When Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite official heard of it, they were deeply disturbed that a man had come to seek the well-being of the children of Israel.
Nehemiah 2:19 (NKJV)
19 But when Sanballat the Horonite, Tobiah the Ammonite official, and Geshem the Arab heard of it, they laughed at us and despised us, and said, "What is this thing that you are doing? Will you rebel against the king?"
Nehemiah 2:20 (NKJV)
20 So I answered them, and said to them, "The God of heaven Himself will prosper us; therefore we His servants will arise and build, but you have no heritage or right or memorial in Jerusalem."
Outstanding here is the response of Nehemiah, he saying three things that mark the work of God for us today. “God of heaven Himself will prosper us, we His servants will arise and build and lastly, the world of opposition has no heritage or right or memorial in God’s work.” Who defines the Kingdom of God?
Nehemiah 4:1-9 (NKJV)
1 But it so happened, when Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall, that he was furious and very indignant, and mocked the Jews.
2 And he spoke before his brethren and the army of Samaria, and said, "What are these feeble Jews doing? Will they fortify themselves? Will they offer sacrifices? Will they complete it in a day? Will they revive the stones from the heaps of rubbish--stones that are burned?"
3 Now Tobiah the Ammonite was beside him, and he said, "Whatever they build, if even a fox goes up on it, he will break down their stone wall."
4 Hear, O our God, for we are despised; turn their reproach on their own heads, and give them as plunder to a land of captivity!
5 Do not cover their iniquity, and do not let their sin be blotted out from before You; for they have provoked You to anger before the builders.
6 So we built the wall, and the entire wall was joined together up to half its height, for the people had a mind to work.
7 Now it happened, when Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabs, the Ammonites, and the Ashdodites heard that the walls of Jerusalem were being restored and the gaps were beginning to be closed, that they became very angry,
8 and all of them conspired together to come and attack Jerusalem and create confusion.
9 Nevertheless we made our prayer to our God, and because of them we set a watch against them day and night.
Notice how people in opposition always become emotional against the work of God. It’s unfortunate to see this happening to many good things the Holy Spirit is moving people to do. Yet that will always be. Now oppositions are not always bad, because in time and prayer, God’s will is always bourn out. Oppositions among brothers often times slows things down long enough to make wise decisions and move a project forward in a better way.
Nehemiah 4:10-17 (NKJV)
10 Then Judah said, "The strength of the laborers is failing, and there is so much rubbish that we are not able to build the wall."
11 And our adversaries said, "They will neither know nor see anything, till we come into their midst and kill them and cause the work to cease."
12 So it was, when the Jews who dwelt near them came, that they told us ten times, "From whatever place you turn, they will be upon us."
13 Therefore I positioned men behind the lower parts of the wall, at the openings; and I set the people according to their families, with their swords, their spears, and their bows.
14 And I looked, and arose and said to the nobles, to the leaders, and to the rest of the people, "Do not be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, great and awesome, and fight for your brethren, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your houses."
15 And it happened, when our enemies heard that it was known to us, and that God had brought their plot to nothing, that all of us returned to the wall, everyone to his work.
16 So it was, from that time on, that half of my servants worked at construction, while the other half held the spears, the shields, the bows, and wore armor; and the leaders were behind all the house of Judah.
17 Those who built on the wall, and those who carried burdens, loaded themselves so that with one hand they worked at construction, and with the other held a weapon.
The Best Defense is a Good Offensive Line
So the leader of Judah said, "The strength of the laborers is failing, and there is so much rubbish that we are not able to build the wall." And our adversaries said, "They will neither know nor see anything, till we come into their midst and kill them and cause the work to cease."
I like Nehemiah for his use of resources God has given him. Nehemiah uses first his own servants, who are the captains of the army and horsemen the king had sent with me, second, he gives the people a part in the struggle, saying “I looked, and arose and said to the nobles, to the leaders, and to the rest of the people, "Do not be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, great and awesome, and fight for your brethren, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your houses."” Nehemiah’s first instinct was to get the people’s focus on God and his strength; his second was to reaffirm the goal.
Nehemiah 5:14 (NKJV)
14 Moreover, from the time that I was appointed to be their governor in the land of Judah, from the twentieth year until the thirty-second year of King Artaxerxes, twelve years, neither I nor my brothers ate the governor's provisions.
For a period of twelve years Nehemiah did not take any provisions from the people as was done by previous Governors. How unique this is to hear of this today, to see such integrity in purpose. Many churches today have sunk into the Church Growth Movement. It is sad to see that a secondary purpose to this movement is the massive amount of money it produces. Money used to grow and facilitate CGM programs. In contrast to that many church Pastor’s live very basic lives, leaving a very small economic footprint. It is not uncommon to see very effective real ministries go unseen by authorities, because their Pastors take no pay. These are those whom will likely become the underground church, when a society outlaws true believers.
Nehemiah 6:1-8 (NKJV)
1 Now it happened when Sanballat, Tobiah, Geshem the Arab, and the rest of our enemies heard that I had rebuilt the wall, and that there were no breaks left in it (though at that time I had not hung the doors in the gates),
2 that Sanballat and Geshem sent to me, saying, "Come, let us meet together among the villages in the plain of Ono." But they thought to do me harm.
3 So I sent messengers to them, saying, "I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down. Why should the work cease while I leave it and go down to you?"
4 But they sent me this message four times, and I answered them in the same manner.
5 Then Sanballat sent his servant to me as before, the fifth time, with an open letter in his hand.
6 In it was written: It is reported among the nations, and Geshem says, that you and the Jews plan to rebel; therefore, according to these rumors, you are rebuilding the wall, that you may be their king.
7 And you have also appointed prophets to proclaim concerning you at Jerusalem, saying, "There is a king in Judah!" Now these matters will be reported to the king. So come, therefore, and let us consult together.
8 Then I sent to him, saying, "No such things as you say are being done, but you invent them in your own heart."
Nehemiah 6:14-15 (NKJV)
14 My God, remember Tobiah and Sanballat, according to these their works, and the prophetess Noadiah and the rest of the prophets who would have made me afraid.
15 So the wall was finished on the twenty-fifth day of Elul, in fifty-two days.
Oppositions Use of a Lie
It is discouraging many times to see God doing such a great work and find people who oppose it, willing to lie and paint a different perception. Seems like all you have to do is spin the story with 90 percent of the truth and 10 percent of a lie, to sway public opinion one-way or the other. Geshem planted the lie that Nehemiah was building the walls to make himself king, and had even planted false prophets saying this in the streets of Jerusalem. Nehemiah called Geshem a liar, calling him out. "No such things as you say are being done, but you invent them in your own heart." Transforming the World by Subverting the Church
Nehemiah 6:9 (NKJV)
9 For they all were trying to make us afraid, saying, "Their hands will be weakened in the work, and it will not be done." Now therefore, O God, strengthen my hands.
The Oppositions desired result and our response
The opposition wants us to be afraid, weakened and quitters, he does not want any obedience toward the will of God. He is even willing to make a historic and real infiltration into the Evangelical Church to facilitate his lies. Treason in the Church: Trading Truth for a "Social Gospel"
Nehemiah 7:1-2 (NKJV)
1 Then it was, when the wall was built and I had hung the doors, when the gatekeepers, the singers, and the Levites had been appointed,
2 that I gave the charge of Jerusalem to my brother Hanani, and Hananiah the leader of the citadel, for he was a faithful man and feared God more than many.
Not only, did Nehemiah complete the Walls of Jerusalem, for the protection of his people, finishing his commission from the King, but he also trained up “Leaders of the Citadel”, Nehemiah saw these men as “faithful” and “God-fearing.” Nehemiah led or discipled these men as they walked with him in Jerusalem, they saw the strength of Nehemiah was in his prayers, his decisive actions, based on his relationship with God and his willingness to serve at his personal cost. Nehemiah truly was the Cup-bearer for the King!
Who did Nehemiah esteem or measure him self by? The key is whom he looked to, was it himself or a feeling inside him? What do you think the answer was?
Thanks to Wikipedia & Kjos Ministies for there input into this article. Links for further study are maintained in a copy of this acticle found at www.ma4bdst.wordpress.com