Insecurity is a blight that has plagued women since their pre-teen years. But God never intended for His daughters to wallow in self-esteem issues. He has prescribed a perfect solution to the insecurity trap that outlasts the temporary, shallow, self-help messages of today’s culture – that of denying self and finding our sole confidence in Christ Jesus alone. Join Leslie as she talks uncovers the secret to radiant confidence, and shares Scripture that talks about the love of God and the value His places upon us, His own!
Leslie Ludy: Hey, everyone! It’s Leslie Ludy, host of the Set Apart Girl Podcast: Biblical Encouragement for Women of All Ages! This week, I’m really excited to tackle a topic that so many of us struggle with – how to gain true confidence. I’ve done some podcasts that touch on this subject, but we’re going to take a different angle on this today.
When I was young, I was constantly being given tips by well-meaning adults on how to be confident and how to feel good about myself. You may have heard me tell this story, but when I was about 12 and I went to youth group, a youth leader one time told all of us, that we should go home, look at our reflection in the mirror, and say to our reflection, “I love you!”
Now, I don’t think any one of us actually did that because that would have been really awkward and embarrassing! But everywhere I turned at that age, I was being told by well-meaning adults, youth leaders, counselors at school, and teachers that I should just learn how to love myself and believe in myself. And yet, doing those things did not give me confidence. No matter how many times I said, “I’m wonderful the way I am! I believe in myself! I don’t need to change! I like myself just as I am, etc.,” I still wallowed in constant insecurity.
When I was young, around 12 or 13, I was always the object of ridicule on the playground or on the school bus. My family lived in a very wealthy area of the city. We were a regular, middle-class family, but a lot of the families that went to this school district were very, very wealthy, and so if you did not have the exact right jeans and backpack and everything perfect on the outside, you became the bottom of the totem pole. That’s really what I struggled with in that season of my life, and then I began to think, What do I need to do to not be the object of ridicule?
I was so insecure, and I began to observe the popular girls at school who really got a lot of attention from the opposite sex. They weren’t ridiculed; they got a lot of sensual attention, and I thought, Well, that kind of attention is better than being teased and made fun of all the time. Over the next couple of years, I worked very hard to transform myself into that type of woman or young woman who would be popular, who would be charming, who would have allure and have that kind of attention from the opposite sex. I succeeded to a degree, and so I was no longer the object of ridicule, now I was the object of sensual, lustful attention from the opposite sex. And yet, even though I reached that point where guys were noticing me in a romantic way, I still didn’t have confidence. It was like no matter what I did, no matter how I improved myself, I really didn’t feel confident.
God’s Answer to the Self-Esteem Message
Leslie Ludy: All you have to do in our culture is walk down the grocery store aisle and you will see reasons to feel insecure. You see magazine covers with women with perfect figures and perfect faces and perfect hair and amazing wardrobes. You see an unattainable standard, and it’s all around us. No matter what age or season of life you’re in, chances are you’ve struggled with a lack of confidence or insecurity at some level. It could be that you were raised with critical parents, or a sibling, or another family member that constantly cut you down. It could be that you experienced cruel mocking and ridicule from classmates, like I did. It could be that men have mistreated you and you’ve been treated like an object or had your heart broken, or you may have just been affected by the unrealistic standards and pressures of our culture.
If you’re struggling with any level of insecurity or a lack of confidence, what is God’s answer?
The culture says that the answer is self-esteem, and even many Christian books today say that the answer is self-esteem. But like I said, no matter how many times I tried to believe, love, or accept myself just the way I was, it was only when I completely surrendered my life to Jesus Christ and embraced His calling on my life of self-denial – not self-esteem – that I truly found lasting confidence. Nowhere in the Bible is the concept of self-esteem promoted, but Jesus emphasizes something entirely different – self-denial.
He says in Luke 9:23, “If anyone comes after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.” When He says to “deny” ourselves, He literally means “to forget oneself, to lose sight of oneself, and one’s own interests.” That is the opposite of constantly trying to pursue self-fulfillment, self-discovery, and self-esteem. That’s what we hear from our culture today, but the apostle Paul goes so far as to say that he counts all of his personal accomplishments, all of his personal uniqueness as rubbish compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus and that is the point that each of us needs to come to where we get our eyes off self and onto Jesus Christ.
Key Principles to Overcoming Insecurity
Leslie Ludy: No matter how popular the message of self-esteem may be today, the Bible has a completely different solution for walking in true confidence. Let’s look at some of the key biblical principles to overcoming insecurity and gaining confidence from a biblical perspective!
The first key, I believe, is understanding our value to God. When we talk about exchanging self-esteem for self-denial, it’s easy to think, Well, if I’m not supposed to focus on self-esteem, then I must have not much value to God.
Actually, nothing can be further from the truth. Before we can understand what it really means to deny self and focus on Christ, we have to understand that we are precious to God. He created us, He loves us, and He places value on our lives so much so that He gave His only Son to rescue and redeem us! We should value our lives because we are made in the image of God! We are His creation. His love for us is truly unfathomable and, as Christian women, we are daughters of the King, redeemed and made into royalty through the work of the Cross. There’s that Scripture that we all grew up with: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son…” (Jn 3:16). You know the rest of that verse, most likely, but it was out of love that He gave His only Son. It was not for some other reason. It was because He loved us.
1 John 3:1 says: “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!” and that is what we are! Then in Jeremiah 31:3 it says, “I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore, with lovingkindness I have drawn you.” In Song of Solomon 2:4 [it] says: “He brought me to the banqueting house and his banner over me was love.” Psalm 139:16 it talks about our value and worth to God even before we’re born! “Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. and in Your book they were all written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them.”
There’s really no question about the value and worth that God places on our lives even though we are undeserving. I believe the first step in gaining lasting confidence is not trying to build up our own self-image or self-esteem, but simply learning how to agree with God that our life has value because we are created in His image, He rescued us, and we belong to Him. And because He loves us, He invites us to follow in His steps of self-denial. It’s a path that Jesus followed, and it’s a path that leads to tremendous joy!
Rather than trying to desperately feel good about ourselves – which really does’t produce lasting confidence anyway – let’s start letting thoughts of self fade into the background and become captivated and overwhelmed by our love for Jesus Christ. We will only gain lasting and true confidence when we look away from ourselves and towards Jesus Christ. The question “Who am I?” is not nearly important as the question “Who is He?”
As Christian women, we are daughters of the King, redeemed and made into royalty through the work of the Cross, but when we make feeling good about ourselves a key focal point in our lives, we quickly take our eyes off of Jesus and become wrapped up in self. Our culture constantly pushes us towards self-discovery, self-fulfillment, self-worth, self-esteem – but God says that true confidence and fulfillment comes when we forget about self and focus on Him.
Philippians 3:3 says: “We who serve God by His Spirit, who boast in Jesus Christ and who put no confidence in the flesh.” Then again, Paul’s example of saying, “Anything that was gained to me, I count it loss for Christ that I may be found in Him not having my own righteousness, but that which is through faith in Christ.” And that is really where true confidence comes from!
It may seem hard to believe that self-denial rather than self-esteem could really be the solution to overcoming insecurity and gaining confidence, but when we let self fade into the background and we become consumed not with what people think of us, but what they think of Jesus Christ; when our concern is bringing glory to His name and not our own, our insecurities begin to melt away. We no longer look to ourselves, our own merit, talent, beauty, or uniqueness to find confidence, we learn how to find confidence in who He is rather than in who we are.
I love this quote from Ian Thomas, he said, “The Christian life can only be explained in terms of Jesus Christ, and if your life as a Christian can still be explained in terms of you – your personality, your willpower, your gift, your talent, your money, your courage, your scholarship, your dedication, your sacrifice, or your anything – then although you may have the Christian life, you are not yet living it.” So true and so powerful!
How does self-denial actually bring confidence into our lives? Because we are no longer concerned with what others think of us. We are only concerned with lifting high the name of Jesus. Our desire becomes for His glory and not our own applause, our identity becomes wrapped up in Him and all that He is, and our purpose becomes wrapped up in bringing glory to His name.
Leslie Ludy: I hope you’ve enjoyed this week’s episode. If you would like to go deeper into this message of overcoming insecurity and gaining true confidence in Jesus Christ, I invited you to join us for our March online course called Overcoming Insecurity. You can learn about that at SetApartGirl.com or BraveheartedChristian.com, and even if you’re past the month of March, you can still be a part of this powerful course any time of the year. It will give you a biblical foundation for truly walking in a confidence that cannot be shaken because it’s found in Jesus Christ.
We will also be diving into this subject deeper at our upcoming Set Apart Girl Annual Conference, May 25th-26th in Colorado or join us anywhere around the world via simulcast. You can stream the sessions even after the conference weekend. I hope you’ll consider joining us for that event. It’s a powerful weekend for women of all ages. Visit SetApartGirl.com to learn more. I pray you have a blessed and Christ-centered week!