What’s wrong with bolstering someone’s self-esteem? It’s full of empty promises. Like an infomercial.
“Just invest a bit of belief in yourself and you too can become a super parent. In exchange for your effort, you’ll overcome all odds. No challenge will overtake you. No trial will defeat you. Call today and request your supply of positive thinking.”
A parent once called me seeking support for her daughter, Susan. She attributed her child’s academic failures to Susan’s poor self-esteem.
“Susan is failing in school. It’s because she doesn’t believe she can achieve success. She’s given up. She has poor self-esteem. Will you please tell my daughter that she’ll get better grades if she tries harder?”
“No,” was my blunt reply.
Silence on the other end told me my refusal shocked the mother. As Director of Instruction, it was my job to support teachers and parents. The baffled parent finally spoke.
“I know you can help her improve her self-esteem. Why won’t you tell her she can do it if she tries harder?”
“Because that’s a lie,” I explained. “Self-esteem relies on self. Believing in our own efforts can fail. The Bible offers something more reliable and powerful: God-esteem. We have assurances of His power working through us. In Philippians 4:13 we’re promised, ‘I can do all this through him who gives me strength.’”
“Does that mean Susan shouldn’t try hard?” questioned the mother.
“No. The Bible tells us diligence is rewarded. The point is to help Susan choose a greater Source for help when things are difficult. When children learn to substitute God-esteem for self-esteem, they’ll feel more empowered. Turning to Him for help will become automatic.”
That conversation left Susan’s mother with greater hope for her child than any self-esteem pep talk could offer.
Many of us feel like Susan. There comes a day when our efforts fail. A trial hits that’s too large. A challenge engulfs us. A challenge that’s too great to overcome. Like dealing with our child’s mental illness (MI).
When faced with Chris’s MI over the years, there were many occasions when I felt my resources were depleted. I had no mental or emotional energy to handle one more crisis. Couldn’t summon any more patience to deal with mental health professionals. Wondered how I’d face another day of unpredictable behaviors. Doubted my ability to hold it together one more day.
In desperation, I ran to the Bible. Thankfully, God’s Word transformed my thinking. I realized my discouragement resulted from a belief in myself. My loving Father led me to verses which assured me of HIS POWER to help me cope.
Here are a few of those verses that became my lifeline.
“The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid (Psalm 27:1)?”
“Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; wait, I say, on the Lord (Psalm 27:14)!”
“Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart, all you who hope in the Lord (Psalm 31:24).”
“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might (Ephesians6:10).”
Do you fear you’re a failure as a parent? That’s another lie. You know how hard you’re trying. Lack of improvement doesn’t diminish your efforts. Plug into the divine Source of power. God will strengthen you, renew your hope, and provide guidance.
Hillsong’s song I Will Run To You reminds us to live in the glory of His grace.