Our culture is obsessed with self-esteem. I often find myself caught up in the hype, especially when my kids are involved. This past fall we signed our four-year-old son up for soccer. Between the coach reprimanding him for playing with pretend airplanes on the field and him missing almost every goal he attempted, my heart broke at the thought that he may feel badly about himself and his abilities. In an effort to undo any hits to his confidence, I found myself saying “Great job, buddy!” and giving him an enthusiastic thumbs up every time he so much as glanced in my direction. I used to joke about the “every kid gets a trophy” mentality, but now I understand. The struggle is real!
Despite this struggle, I do believe it can be hugely beneficial to call out another’s God-given gifts and potential. (In fact, my church offered a sermon series on this called Shout Out that I’d highly recommend if you haven’t listened yet.) I have benefitted greatly from people blessing me with their gracious words, and I believe we can halt the enemy’s attack over our minds by speaking life over people in these ways. God’s Word even tells us to honor one another and consider how to spur one another on towards love and good deeds.
But what do we do when our shortcomings, weaknesses, or inadequacies are exposed? When no amount of compliments or others pointing out the positive can overcome the painful reality that a certain weakness may never be removed from our lives? For some, this weakness may be a physical or mental disability. For others, maybe it’s a mental illness or disease that you’ve struggled with for years. Our weaknesses can take many forms, but there is one common denominator: they can render us hopeless if we choose to dwell on them.
I believe there is a way to build ourselves up that leads to lasting peace and confidence- even when we have glaring flaws. God is seen throughout the Bible using this method to encourage His people, and this is how I’ve learned to effectively encourage myself.
In the book of Exodus, God calls Moses to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. This was no small feat- there were 600,000 of them, and this number didn’t include women and children. I’m not sure about you, but I would have had my fair share of reasons for God as to why I was NOT the person for this job. And so did Moses- one of which was his stuttering problem. Can you even imagine leading a charge of that many people with a speech impediment? We look to leaders who are confident, eloquent, charismatic, sure of themselves… and here was Moses.
Now let’s picture God saying to Moses (or Gideon or David or Jeremiah, for that matter) what we might be tempted to say: “Oh Moses, you can do it! Great job, buddy (insert enthusiastic thumbs up)! You definitely have what it takes to lead these people. Keep up the great work!”
It’s almost laughable! Why? Because there is no way that he could do what God had asked him to do without some SERIOUS divine assistance.
And the same is true for us.
So what did God tell Moses and Gideon and Jeremiah and David when they were afraid and unsure of themselves? I’ll summarize it for you: God highlights the fact that His power in us is not limited by our weakness. It’s magnified. (See Exodus 4:12, Judges 6:16, Jeremiah 1:7-8, Psalms… just Psalms!) God strengthened these men by reminding them of His help and power. If God is for us, who and what can be against us?
What if the next time we were unsure of our abilities, we reminded ourselves of God’s? Instead of worrying about the way we may appear to others, let’s remind ourselves that God establishes and defends our reputation. Instead of concerning ourselves with whether or not we are fit for our current occupation or calling, let’s remind ourselves that God can and will provide everything we need for the task to which He has called us. Instead of worrying about how our physical ailments may limit us, let’s remind ourselves that He is perfectly able to show Himself strong in our weakness.
With every revealing of our lack there is a corresponding revelation of God’s abundance. I encourage you to consider where you feel unsure and inadequate and allow God’s Word to fill you with unshakable confidence in His power and provision.