A former student sent me a link to a video about self-esteem last week. She asked for my comments. I finally made time to watch it today. Here’s the video:
Matt Walsh is certainly correct here. Confidence, defined essentially as known competence in the face of difficulty is superior to self-esteem (see note below).
But I was asked, why I do not know, for my thoughts. William James defined self-esteem with this equation:
Self-esteem, in this sense, is inevitable. It is impossible to be void of self-reflection to the point that you never compare your level of success to your pretensions. For James self-esteem is your pretension (an ideal vision of yourself) compared to your attainment. Spiritually speaking, this is most fully explained in Romans 7, but Galatians 6:4 puts it most concisely (and more positively):
For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor. (Galatians 6:3-4)
For the Christian there are two challenges when it comes to self-esteem:
- Determining whether our ideal self is a realistic portrayal of our potential based on our understanding of Jesus Christ and our personality, circumstances, and calling.
- Making the wise choices necessary to make progress toward our ideal self.
If you confront those challenges and always recall your admiration of Christ and your confidence in his ability to accomplish what he says he will, then I suspect you’ll be in good shape:
For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority. (Colossians 2:9-10)
So, “do good things, and you’ll have all the esteem you need.”
Note: What I don’t like about Walsh’s video is that Walsh criticizes a theoretical construct (self-esteem) with a colloquial one (confidence). Note Albert Bandura’s distinction between confidence as a general term (the word Matt uses) with self-efficacy, the definition of which, Matt uses for confidence: