Many years ago a European psychiatrist Alfred Alder, stated that everyone has feelings of inferiority. Often the feelings stimulate a healthy response in us but more often, instead of actions and achievements, these feelings of inferiority become so overwhelming that they cause us to withdraw from others and develop, as Alder put it, an ‘inferiority complex’.
It is estimated that 95% of the population is comprised of people who feel inadequate and inferior. One result of these feelings is the drive to constantly compare themselves unfavorably to their contemporaries. These comparisons lead only to the feelings of human misery and feelings of inadequacy. Adler felt and others feel that the only way to escape the trap of inferiority is to stop comparing ourselves to others and to give up the constant drive to feel superior to others.
Modern day clinicians seem to believe that the only way to overcome these feelings of inferiority and inadequateness is by developing a positive, healthy self-esteem. The term ‘self-esteem’ is also expressed by the terms ‘self-image’ and ‘self-concept’. These terms refer to the image or picture that we hold of ourselves. If you were to ask yourself to describe yourself as though you were a character in a novel, which words would you use? Which descriptive terms would you use to convey yourself? What would convey your self-image and self-concept? The description would include weaknesses, strengths, character traits and physical features. This type of self-evaluation would also express how you see your worth, your competence and your significance. These self-perceptions are held in our minds and have a profound effect on the way we carry ourselves, how we think, act and feel.
There are several noted counselors and theologians who see ‘self-esteem’ and ‘self-love’ as repositories of a sinful nature. Jay Adams, a well-known Christian counselor, writes, “You must treat yourself like a criminal, and put self to death every day.’
My belief is that, when we become born-again believers by the Grace of Jesus Christ, we are new creatures. We are created in the image of God and we are children, heirs and co-heirs to the Kingdom of God with Jesus Christ. We are not worthy by our own actions or devices but we are filled with Christ and the Holy Spirit of the One and True Living God and are made worthy by His righteousness. We must accept ourselves as children of God who are lovable, valuable and capable. When Jesus Christ becomes the center of our lives, we give up the belief that we are the c enter of the universe. We are in need of God’s forgiveness and redemption. I am a child of God and will strive to be all that will please Him.
As a Christian, my attitude has changed from, “I am good, great, wise, strong” to “I am a creation of the Most High God. I am created in His image. I am a redeemed sinner. God created this entire world with all of its beauty and abundance for me and others who love Him. God wants me to prosper and as long as I have Him foremost in my heart, mind and spirit, I am privileged by His favor.”
Likewise, as a Christian, my attitude must changed from, “I am bad, worthless, ignorant, weak and a nothing ” to “I am a creation of the Most High God. I am created in His image. I am a redeemed sinner. God created this entire world with all of its beauty and abundance for me and others who love Him. God wants me to prosper and as long as I have Him foremost in my heart, mind and spirit, I am privileged by His favor.”
I must understand that I can either believe the world and the devil who say that I am worthless or I can believe God’s Holy Wisdom and know that I am loved by the Creator of all that is. I can either believe what the father of lies tells me or I can believe what the Almighty Father of Heaven tells me in His Holy Word.