A man took great pride in being a former Navy Seal. And why not? It’s an elite group- It takes a special sailor to become a Navy Seal. He went to his grandson’s kindergarten class to share his Navy Seal exploits with them. After he finished, a hand shot up into the air “So, can you balance a ball on the end of your nose?” She thought a Navy Seal should be able to balance a ball on the end of his nose!
Today we continue our current series- A Fresh Start. Last week we walked through an overview of what it means to have a fresh start. Today, we will focus on self-worth, and how that impacts our ability to actually have a fresh start. In the past 30 years or so, psychologists have discovered what they believe to be the one essential element within all of us- that single element that determines the entirety of human behavior. Self-esteem, or more specifically the lack of self-esteem, has been identified as the root source of virtually every human failure and frailty. Psychologist Nathaniel Branden said, “I can’t think of a single psychological problem- anxiety, depression, fear of intimacy- that’s not traceable to poor self-esteem.” And if you still have any doubt, no less that the Supreme Queen of Daytime Talk, Oprah Winfrey, once said that her mission statement was, “What we’re trying to change in this one hour is the root of all the problems in the world- lack of self-esteem”.
In 1987, baseball pitcher Dickie Noles earned the dubious distinction of being traded for himself. The Chicago Cubs traded him to the Detroit Tigers for the ubiquitous “player to be named later”. Several months later, the Tigers shipped Noles back to the Cubs, completing a deal in which he was traded for himself. That would do something for your self-esteem wouldn’t it? But that’s not the worst one. A few years ago, a minor league baseball team traded one of their pitchers for 10 maple baseball bats valued at $665. That’ll have an impact on your self-worth!
Psalm 139:1-6- “You have searched me, LORD, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, LORD, know it completely. You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.”
Charles Cooley is considered the dean of American Sociology. He developed a theory called “the looking glass self.” The idea is that a person’s self-worth is established by what they think the most important people in their life think of them. Think that through- our self image is shaped by what we think the most important person in our life thinks of us. And while that may be painting with a bit of a broad, simplistic brush, I think it makes some sense. Which means that the people who were most instrumental in helping form our self image would be our family and closest friends. Why? Because the perceived “you are’s” of parents, close relatives and friends become the inner “I am’s ” of children. Were you ever called “stupid” as a child? Have you ever told YOUR child they’re stupid? Remember- you’re shaping their self-worth, whether you realize it or not.
Building self-esteem is an inside job. If we depend on others, or on circumstances, or on performance, we will never get a grasp on self-esteem. The reality is that we can be all sorts of things, but we will never be ALL we can be apart from Jesus Christ. The Bible says as we think in our hearts…so we are. Paul calls it “the eyes of your heart.” As Christians, the most important person in our lives is…Jesus. Therefore, our self-worth can be established by what He thinks of us- not what OTHERS think of us. God loves you and doesn’t want you to live a mediocre life.
One day a woman ran out of the house with the trash when she heard the garbage truck. She wore a ragged bathrobe, worn-out slippers, her hair in curlers, and her face was coated with greasy cream. “Am I too late for the garbage?” she asked. “No, hop right in.” For many, our self-worth is shaped by forces we have little to do with, by things we don’t control. But one of the greatest tragedies is to live denying who you are. If we think we’re nothing, then we’ll live and act like we’re nothing. We are more than we think we are. We weren’t born to fit in. We were created to make a difference. Your gifts are unique. You should want to share them, not simply keep them to yourself. There’s no need to slouch, to hide in the back row, to try and slip away unnoticed. You are the crown jewel of God’s creation. You are his beloved child. God doesn’t settle for us being less than He intended.
1 Corinthians 12:12-20- “Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. or we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many. Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body.”
Christianity isn’t simply about adhering to a specific set of rules or beliefs. At its best, it demonstrates God’s transformative grace that empowers us to follow Him. The Church should be populated by radicals- those counter-cultural folks who believe that the least can serve and be elevated to places of prominence. The Church should never be seen as a place where people farther up the “social food chain” are held in higher esteem than others. Unlike the world, the Church should see through spiritual eyes- helping develop the gifts of those present. We should WANT to see every last ounce of the goodness that is the gift of Jesus Christ being used. Why? Because those gifts, when used fully, can make disciples for Jesus Christ, can change the world.
What do you think you’re worth? It’s not likely you’re worth the billions of a Bill Gates or Sam Walton. Years ago someone calculated what the average person weighing 150 pounds was worth. (First of all I’m more than a little troubled that the AVERAGE person weighs 150 pounds!) Th
e average person is made up of 3,500 feet of oxygen, nitrogen, and hydrogen; enough fats to make a candle weighing 15 pounds; enough carbon to make 9,360 lead pencils; 54 ounces of phosphorus- enough to make 800,000 matches; enough sugar to make 6 sugar cubes; enough iron to make a 10-penny nail; enough lime to mark off the batter’s box on a baseball diamond; 20 teaspoons of salt; and various other chemicals and water. When you add it all up, we were worth, at the time, $8.50. When you take into account inflation, the average person is presently worth around $15. What do you think you’re worth to God? GOD not only created people- He created people of worth. God thinks you’re something, you’re valuable, you’re important. This is based on the fact that God knows you…personally and individually. God knows us so intimately that He knows the number of hairs on our heads. On average, a blonde has 145,000 hairs, a brunette 120,000, and a red-head 90,000. (And then there’s me!) But regardless of your hair color…or quantity…God knows how many are on your head! You’re His creation…and He knows what He made. And according to the Book of Genesis, what He made is good.
In the Gospel of Matthew (6:26) Jesus says, “Look at the birds in the sky: they don’t sow or reap or gather in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren’t you more valuable than they are?” The affirmation of worth here can’t be ignored. The question is, “Aren’t we more valuable than they are?” And the inferred answer is, “Yes”! The Bible tells us that each of us is of incalculable worth. In fact, it says that we were created just a little less than…God. Such a birthright should overwhelm us with a great sense of humbleness. The Bible even says that we are worthy of God’s Son dying for us! “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son …” What higher value can be placed on anything than that God’s only Son would lay down His life for us? God has NO unwanted children. He makes NO mistakes.
John 5:16- You did not choose me. I chose you and sent you out to produce fruit, the kind of fruit that will last.
If your life’s not centered on Jesus Christ, it’s centered on…YOU- your passions, your wants, your goals, your desires. And if that’s the case, you’re not where, and who, God intended you to be. And when that happens, it creates a God-shaped hole in your heart that leaves you with a great longing. You need the assurance forgiveness offers. You need a radical fresh start, and it is God Who makes that possible. When our self-esteem is diminished, we deny both the world’s needs and God’s gifts. God didn’t make us to simply fit in. Instead, He created us distinctly and creatively to make a difference.
Maybe you’re here today looking for a new beginning, a fresh start in life. Perhaps there’s dissatisfaction in your soul that you’ve not been able to fill. Maybe there’s a thirst for joy that eludes you. Maybe something’s just…missing in your life. If you put your faith and trust in Jesus Christ, you WILL find a new beginning- a new direction in life that’ll satisfy the thirst in your soul, that’ll give you a joy, peace and purpose you’ve never known. Jesus loves you as though you were the only person in the world to love. He loves you so much that He died for you. The cross would have happened even if you were the only one who would receive that grace. That’s what Jesus thinks of you. It takes courage and hope to see the potential God has placed in us. But with Jesus’ eyes, we can see the fullness of who we are called to be. Will you let His love shape your life?
Thanks for stopping by- I pray you have a blessed day! Please make sure and come back again tomorrow, and stick with Jesus!
Tomorrow- what are YOU wearing today?