Building Self Esteem vs. True Encouragement

Building Self Esteem vs. True Encouragement

New reports are showing that building a child’s self-esteem can be harmful. The tower of “Building Self-Esteem” is beginning to fall, but God’s command to encourage will last through the ages.

The Tower of Babel is the iconic skyscraper of man’s desire to make a name for himself and raise himself above God. It is a desire for control without the wisdom, love and care of our heavenly Father, our Creator. Throughout history, attempt after attempt has been made to formulate fool-proof fortresses in many realms only to watch it become an ancient ruin. One tower, the tower of “Building Self-Esteem” of the 70-90’s is beginning to crumble.

In the Washington Post it says,
“For decades, the prevailing wisdom in education was that high self-esteem would lead to high achievement. The theory led to an avalanche of daily affirmations, awards ceremonies and attendance certificates — but few, if any, academic gains.”

And most recently Forbes notes,
Helicopter parenting, along with other forms of over-parenting, have come under considerable criticism in recent years for creating a generation of kids who can’t problem-solve for themselves. Now, a related parenting behavior – “overvaluing” one’s kids – has come under similar fire:

This. is. not. surprising.

Blogger, Nichole Cottrel has an excellent post on The Gospel of Self-Esteem and its dangers. I don’t for a moment solely blame the “Self-Esteem Credo” for the bricks falling from the tower. There are other contributing factors causing this man-made tower its demise. Here are four. I am sure there are more.

Cultural Mistake #1 Children are in the wrong place. They are elevated higher than Mom and Dad’s marriage. (children’s activities over Mom and Dad’s date night or time together)

Cultural Mistake #2 Parents and teachers give children praise and encouragement for low achievement or self-serving endeavors. (praising “achievements” that require no effort)
Cultural Mistake #3 Parents delay children’s responsibility milestones.(example: job, driving, finances)

Cultural Mistake #4 If there is no God then one becomes a god. (example: removing God as Creator)

Ultimately, the steel frame is replaced with an aluminum matrix of self-centeredness and self Importance. The results? The tower is tumbling down.

I’m more important than you so…I don’t need this responsibility. Crack.
I’m more important than you so….I don’t need this job. Jolt.
I’m more important than you so…I don’t need this marriage or family. Rumble.
I’m more important than you so…Give me what I want. Collapse.

What psychologists attempted to formulate without God is counterfeit to the real deal. They constructed the self-esteem tower with faulty material rather than using God’s Word. We all need to intimately know who we are with God and who we are without God. Without God, we are sinners. I know, not a popular word but an accurate one that describes our condition. David knew very well who he was without God. He says in Psalm 51:3,

“For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.”

His personal failures pointed him to a God who can save him. In Psalm 68:20 he writes,

“Our God is a God of salvation, and to God, the Lord, belong deliverances from death.”

With this solid foundation, construction by the Master Builder can begin, not a tower of pride but a house to serve and bring our Master glory.

“Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Psalm 127:1

However, as the Lord builds anew in our lives, He asks us to yield to His calling, to His service, and to His transformational work. I don’t know about you, but at times this walk of faith paralyzes me in fear. I lack the courage to take the next step or to speak up. I sit motionless blankly staring and wanting to give up. I grow weary, oh so weary of following. Failure grips my soul like a vice. Unfair incidences plague my mind and replay the injustice over and over. Frustration of repeated tasks producing little to no results has led me to speak defeating words like,”What’s the use?”

Fatigue, frustration, failure, discouragement, injustices, and fear are shared human experiences. Even the men and women of the Bible were well acquainted with life’s struggles. We are not alone. No one is exempt. Not even our children.

It is in those moments that we need encouragement and praise for our efforts to help us keep going in spite of the difficult road that is before us. Not the empty praise of self-affirmations but encouragement to rely on God’s strength. In fact, we are commanded to encourage each other daily, not for the purpose of building up ourselves but to prevent our hearts from being hardened! Because when our hearts are hardened, the temptation to sin starts to look appealing and we sadly venture into our “sin of choice” to make ourselves feel better.

Encouragement is God’s preventive medicine.

Encouragement is God’s preventive medicine.

“But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. Hebrews 3:13

So what’s the difference between building false self-esteem and true encouragement and praise? Let’s compare. Here are  few examples.

Encourage - Google Docs

It comes down to two foundational points.
Building the Self-Esteem Tower-Praise and encouragement are given to increase “value of self” and prevent negative feelings.
Biblical Encouragement-Praise and encouragement are given to increase courage and foster a reliance on God’s strength.

The house that is built by the Lord will remain for the purpose of serving one another.

Prideful man will continue to build Towers of Babel. At first, they always seem impressive, but they eventually crumble into a heap of dust. The tower of “Building Self-Esteem” is beginning to fall, but God’s command to encourage will last through the ages. In contrast, the house that is built by the Lord will remain for the purpose of serving one another.

“Therefore encourage one another and build up one another…” 1 Thessalonians 5:11

We all need encouragement. Too much is at stake when we don’t give or receive it. Let’s give encouragement liberally to one another and build our families in the Lord.

From Our Home to Yours,


Don't Forget to Post!.001

Subscribe to Weekly Writing Tips & Tricks!

Quick Reference Language Charts

Here to Help Learning