The Source of Your Self-Esteem

One week into my sabbatical I made it through a 24-hour period without thinking about the church. It was strange … and refreshing. It is common, unhealthy and unbiblical to get your sense of self-esteem from your work. It’s great to take pride in what you do, but dangerous to make it the source of your self-worth. How do you find contentment no matter what is happening at work?

Girl in the Mirror


The Secret to Contentment

I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances” (Phil. 4:11).


Honestly, I found myself in a terrible place where my happiness depended almost exclusively on how things were going at work (the church). If the church is doing great (i.e., growing), I’m doing great. If the church isn’t doing so great, I’m not doing so great. And if the church is spiraling out of control (i.e., declining), I’m spiraling out of control. Can you see the problem here?


The Apostle Paul had known great success and miserable failure when he penned the famous words — the secret to being content in all things is knowing that “whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want, I can do all this through him who gives me strength” (Phil. 4:12-13). And Jesus is the one he speaks of who gives strength.


Three Sabbatical Lessons

I lift up my eyes to the mountains— where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth” (Psalm 121:1-2). 


I know that Jesus is the source of my strength. I’ve taught that truth in countless sermons and Bible Studies — yet, I wasn’t living it out. It’s too easy to depend on my own strength or the strength of those around me. When my relationships are running smoothly — I’m good. When someone gets angry with me or a relationship is broken — I’m not so good. Does it sound familiar?


You are relying on others or on your work to feed your self-esteem.


Jesus said, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matt. 11:29-30).


Following Jesus brings rest for your soul. It may wear you out physically. It may take a toll emotionally. It may not always be smooth sailing. But, it will bring rest to your soul.


Here are three things God revealed to me on my Sabbatical.

1. I am broken.

For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing … What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?” (Rom. 7:19, 24). 


I can’t do this alone. I need other people.  I need God. That’s a fact. I want to do it alone. But, I can’t.


Admitting that I am broken and need help is a difficult and liberating act.


2. I am not in control.

I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow” (1 Cor. 3:6).


My tendency is to take everything on. I’ll go 100 mph, seven days a week, until I crash. And I will take responsiblity for everything — even those things that are out of my control. I’m not sure what this disease is called, but I think the Bible calls it prideful sin.


Repeat often — God never called me to be successful; he called me to be obedient.


I must work hard at obeying God and let him take care of the rest.


3. I have Jesus.

I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). 


Jesus was on his way to the cross, but first he wanted his disciples to understand the secret to their strength. They were only as strong as their last connection to him.


When I feel like I’m losing control — it’s probably because I haven’t spent enough time with Jesus.


Everything in this world may fail — including me — and Jesus will still be there. Nothing can ever separate me from his love (Rom. 8:38-39).


One of my favorite songs goes like this:

Give me Jesus
Give me Jesus
You can have all this world
But give me Jesus

In the morning, when I rise …

And when I am alone …

And when I come to die …

Give me Jesus
Give me Jesus
You can have all this world
But give me Jesus


That pretty much sums it up!






Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.