Sometimes I get asked to do talks, especially for women. (Scares the life out of me, but I’m very grateful to be invited). The topics can differ, but as often as not, the issue I’m asked to speak on is ‘self-esteem’. Like it or not, this has been tagged the big issue for ladies; or at least, one that we’re interested in. (I suspect men have the same questions, but they get butch wrapping, like; ‘Going for God’, ‘Stepping Out in Strength’ or ‘Quantum of Godliness’).
Part of me gets a bit frustrated at this, because it can feel like we’re being sold short. Often guys get the hardcore topics like ‘The Humanity of Christ’ or ‘The Doctrine of the Spirit’. On the other hand women often learn about gentleness, modesty and being coloured beautiful. (I’m not knocking the colour thing, it’s a lot of fun, and it can work evangelistically – but not every single time). Women are just as hungry for Christ as their male counterparts and just as capable of engaging with the Bible. Sure, we like a bit of a chat and a cuppa, but our opinions are just as strong and our voices just as loud. So if self-esteem is a synonym for a hen day with Bibles instead of booze, then count me out.
Don’t get me wrong – when it comes to personal grooming, I need all the help I can get. But my first need is not to decide if I’m autumn or winter. It’s not about setting boundaries or time management or massage or better quiet times. Those are good, but they’re never going to change me – any more than peering into the mirror and repeating self-affirmations. Esteeming myself is not the point of the gospel.
Telling myself I’m worthwhile, doesn’t make me feel it.
Trying to find myself, only makes me lost.
So if I’m asked to do “self-esteem” by your church I’ll gladly take the invitation. But this is what I’ll say: If you want to understand yourself, you need to see Jesus. If you want to esteem yourself rightly, you must esteem Him. If you want to see your own beauty, look at His.
Differently shaped teaching for men and women can be helpful. Often it’s necessary. But the cry of the heart is not gender specific. It’s this: Give me Jesus.