Balancing Humility and Self-Esteem?

In the park the other day I noticed a mother and daughter enjoying time together.

playing catch

Mom: “That was a great catch!”

Daughter: “I know.”

This little gal appears to have a healthy dose of self-esteem.

Or does she?

What about humility?

Humility is mistakenly perceived by our culture as weakness. Being humble is likened to being mousy and self-deprived. Yet in reality when we catch glimpses of it , since it is so rare, we appreciate it and take note.

  • The sports figure pointing out the strengths and contributions of teammates instead of highlighting himself.
  • The business owner appreciating the talents of employees instead of taking individual credit for the success of the company.
  • The husband giving credit to his wife for serving the family so selflessly.

Jesus is the greatest example of the strength of humility. Being King, High Priest, Creator of the universe He humbled Himself to become a servant, taking on the form of a man. (Philippians 2:6-8) His humility was genuine as He loved, served, and even washed the dirty feet of His disciples. He didn’t become less, He just wasn’t concerned with establishing His own position.

“Humility isn’t thinking less of ourselves, it thinking of ourselves less.”               Bill Johnson

So how do we as parents balance humility with self-esteem?

balancing scale

The Bible doesn’t teach the importance of self-esteem, but it does teach about having our identity firmly established in Christ.

We need to lay the foundation of true worth and value being found in our relationship with God:

  • Because God made you, you are incredibly valuable (Genesis 1:27)
  • God has gifted you with wonderful gifts and talents (Ephesians 2:10)
  • God has a great plan and purpose for your life (Jeremiah 29:11-13)

These truths we repeat as we talk with our children, when we sit together, when we walk by the way, as we put them to bed and when we wake them up. (Deut 6:7) (Be prepared as we will continually tell them this when they are young, tweeners, teenagers and even as adults.)

In school we reinforce these truths by providing handwriting assignments of copying Scripture (saying, seeing, writing):  Genesis 1:27, Ephesians 2:10, Jeremiah 29:11-13, Philippians 2:3-4, Philippians 2:6-8, 1John 2:14.

Looking for life examples, we point out when we see humility being lived out in the lives of others. And most of all, we pray together that God will give us humble hearts so we can become more like Him and bring Him honor.

Singing, “In Him we live and move and have our being,” we teach His truths, His character, His love to our children. It is there they find their identity, their worth and their strength.

Not self-deprivation, false humility, self-righteous religiosity:

“That was a great catch!”

“It’s all because of Jesus, Mom, He has made me an amazing athlete.”


But genuine, appreciative, full of joy:

“That was a great catch!”

“Thanks, Mom, this is fun!”


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