Since 1984, we’ve been broadcasting the good news that God’s Word is relevant to all areas of our lives, and most definitely to our jobs and careers. Very early on in this ministry God began to show me the error of the self-esteem teaching that seemed to be sweeping the country.
The general theme of this teaching was that the troubles that plague our society—crime, addictions, failed marriages, and abuse—all of it is attributable to low self-esteem. It was thought and taught that if we could just help people think about themselves in more positive ways, then they wouldn’t do these things—these societal problems would go away.
However, as I looked at myself and others, God made it clear to me that self is not my solution—self is my problem! Looking back at the topics I covered early in this ministry, I see that as early as 1989 I was trying to communicate this truth. Trying to get people to feel good about themselves will not reach into the depths of their souls and bring healing. This is because each of us was born in sin and we commit sin willfully—we simply have a sin problem. The Bible says that there is nothing good in our selves—that all the righteous things we try to do are like filthy rags to God.
That doesn’t exactly fit with the good self-esteem message, does it? Recently I found a booklet by Tim Keller—actually I think it’s a transcription of one of his sermons—entitled The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness. Tim does such a good job of explaining how this idea—that low self-esteem is society’s big problem—is just not true!
I want share some of Tim’s thoughts, which are echoes of what I’ve tried to say for many years on this topic of self-esteem. The title of his booklet gives you a clue to where he’s going: The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness. When you and I can come to the place where life is not all about us and we truly don’t think about ourselves first and foremost all the time, we are beginning to walk in the freedom that Jesus came to give us. Believe me when I tell you this: Self is your problem, not your solution. When you grasp the incredible freedom of forgetting about yourself, you are going to love it!