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Are you working very hard to improve your self-esteem? If you’ve been trying to stand on good self-esteem, thinking you’ll feel better if you feel better about yourself, I have to warn you that you’re headed for quicksand. Self-esteem is not a foundation you can trust.

Unfortunately we’ve been bombarded with the wrong message about self-esteem. It seems most every problem we have in our society is attributed to poor self-esteem. Everybody keeps telling us that if we had better self-esteem, we’d be just fine! Educators, sociologists, criminologists, politicians—everybody’s singing the self-esteem song, including many Christian books and speakers.

It sounds good; it looks like it should work. But self-esteem is quicksand. Eventually it will collapse beneath us and swallow us. Please understand, I’m not suggesting that it would be good to feel badly about ourselves. Of course not! What is at issue is how we go about fostering emotional health.

When we place the emphasis on being good rather than feeling good, we will discover we are on solid ground. Good feelings about ourselves are inevitable when we do good things.

The way we do good things is to, first of all, be born from above and become new creations in Christ. Then we are to become more and more like Jesus, transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory. When that happens, we will do good works. And when we do good works—the good works we were created in Christ Jesus to do—then, guess what? We start to feel good about ourselves because of who we are in Jesus.

If you’ve been trying to stand on your own self-esteem, you’ve undoubtedly discovered it doesn’t hold you up. It might work for short periods of time, but eventually you’ll fall through those self-esteem cracks and discover that you’re trying to stand on quicksand. I encourage you not to put your trust in the prevalent self-esteem theories, but instead, to stand firm on Christ, what he’s done for you, and who you are because of your trust in him. That is solid ground.