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Tag Archives: self-esteem

The Transformation of a Princess

As a former Bible Teacher and Youth Pastor, I’ve witnessed students change for the good and bad. One of the most memorable occurred during a Confirmation Retreat for 8th Graders. One of the girls who attended had a reputation for being cruel and mean. At some point, whether it was one of the ice-breakers, small groups discussions or something I said during this weekend, a spiritual transformation began in this girl’s life.

Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. She had an Egyptian maid whose name was Hagar. And Sarai said to Abram, See here, the Lord has restrained me from bearing [children]. I am asking you to have intercourse with my maid; it may be that I can obtain children by her. And Abram listened to and heeded what Sarai said. So Sarai, Abram’s wife, took Hagar her Egyptian maid, after Abram had dwelt ten years in the land of Canaan, and gave her to her husband Abram to be his [secondary] wife. And he had intercourse with Hagar, and she became pregnant; and when she saw that she was with child, she looked with contempt upon her mistress and despised her, Genesis 16:1-4.

Unfortunately, most transformations occur gradually, over an extended period of time. Such was the case for Sarai, who struggled with self-esteem as an adult due to her inability to have a baby with her husband Abram. The label of being barren ate away at her soul, trying to force the issue with Hagar, her maidservant who she gave to Abram as a secondary wife. However, after Hagar got pregnant this only made Sarai more bitter and envious.

And God said to Abraham, As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her name Sarai; but Sarah [Princess] her name shall be. 16 And I will bless her and give you a son also by her. Yes, I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of peoples shall come from her, Genesis 17:15-16.

Moments after God gave Abram the new name Abraham, the same thing happens to Sarai in the passage above. Recognizing the broken and crushed spirit of Abraham’s wife, Psalm 34:18, God’s new name Sarah means princess. Using the power of words like the book You Are What You Say, God speaks to Sarah’s future and not her past. The apostle Paul writes about this important principle in Philippians 3:12-14. This is the mentality which led to the transformation of a barren woman into a princess and the mother of Israel.

by Jay Mankus

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From Spiritual Blindness to Humility

Spiritual blindness is a grievous condition experienced by those who do not believe in God, Jesus Christ, and His Word, the Bible. This state is often brought on by a popular view that God is all loving, preventing this spiritual being from sending human beings to hell. Spiritual blindness can also be contracted by the self-righteous. This occurs when religious individuals begin to compare themselves to less spiritual people. This comparison elevates their own self-esteem while lulling souls into a false sense of security.

He also told this parable to some people who trusted in themselves and were confident that they were righteous [posing outwardly as upright and in right standing with God], and who viewed others with contempt: Luke 18:9.

During the first century, Jesus attempted to expose the spiritual blindness of religious leaders by using a parable.  This analogy compared one outstanding citizen, a Pharisee with a stellar reputation to a tax collector, the most corrupt and dishonest occupations at the time.  Jesus made his point by noticing the prayer habits of these two men.  This so called good guy exalted himself without any acknowledgement, gratitude or praise for the Lord above.  Meanwhile, the social misfit, hated by society, did not feel worthy to look up to heaven.  Rather, this tax collector beat his chest, disgusted by the spiritual condition of his soul.

The Pharisee stood [ostentatiously] and began praying to himself [in a self-righteous way, saying]: ‘God, I thank You that I am not like the rest of men—swindlers, unjust (dishonest), adulterers—or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.’ 13 But the tax collector, standing at a distance, would not even raise his eyes toward heaven, but was striking his chest [in humility and repentance], saying, ‘God, be merciful and gracious to me, the [especially wicked] sinner [that I am]!’– Luke 18:11-13.

Life is full of cycles. phases and transitional periods.  During these ups and downs, God humbles the proud and lifts up the meek.  The hardest part of these emotional experiences is remembering where you came from.  In the darkest days of Job’s trials, this broken man once said, “from ashes to ashes and dust to dust.”  This confession reflects upon God creating Adam out of the dust only to return to the ground following his death.  When human beings recognize the frailty of life, a mist that appears for a while then quickly vanishes, this should move the spiritually blind to humility.  May this painful reality prompt acts of faith to get your life in order this year.

by Jay Mankus

Removing the I Can’t From Your Vocabulary

While attending a youth ministry trade school in Minnesota, I was first introduced to the term “red light thinking.”  Growing up everyone hears the words I can’t.  This may be spoken by adults, siblings or teachers.  Whom ever spouts out this expression is suggesting that you can’t accomplish what you hope for, think about and want.  Anyone who begins to believe this will be limited in what you accomplish in life.

But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible,” Matthew 19:26.

To combat red think thinking I was trained to practice a simple exercise.  After you have taken an assessment of a dilemma, problem or situation, spend any where between five to fifteen minutes to write down as many possible solutions as possible.  This time involves a collection of ideas without rejection, known as green light thinking.  When every angle is considered, then you can go back and scrutinize the unrealistic.

For nothing will be impossible with God, Luke 1:37.

The older I become, the crueler and harsher critics get.  Subsequently, the young, adolescents and adults are bombarded with daily chants of you can’t.  Debbie downers and negative Norman’s pound away dramatically impacting self-esteem.  Instead of facing a world full of challenges with hope, individuals struggle to believe in their dreams.  If this mindset is not stopped, spirits of doubt will eliminate the American dream.  May prayer, a supporting church and voices of optimism propel the hopeless toward a sense of with God I can.

by Jay Mankus

Searching for a Sense of Worth or Sheer Fantasy?

In this day and age, people will do almost anything to receive recognition.  This pursuit often causes individuals to cross the line between right and wrong.  In an attempt to please their bosses, employees at Wells Fargo opened 2 million fake bank accounts over a five year span.  It’s one thing to develop a sense of worth through working, but sometimes chasing fantasies perverts reality.  These acts are lost in translation, hidden by pressure to excel.

Those who work their land will have abundant food, but those who chase fantasies have no sense, Proverbs 12:11 – NIV.

The Bible was written in 3 languages: Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic.  Since the entire Old Testament is Hebrew, there are words or verses that don’t translate well.  Subsequently, the verse above is confusing until you examine a more accurate version below.  The Hebrew language similar to Greek is a much more descriptive.  At first glance above, it appears Solomon is against chasing after fantasies, a waste of time and effort.  Unfortunately, the context refers to people attempting to cut corners and expecting the same productivity.

He that tilleth his land shall be satisfied with bread; but he that followeth the worthless is void of understanding, Proverbs 12:11 – Darby Translation.

If you have ever attended a Christmas or company party, it can be a great time or an awkward experience.  This is where men tend to gather, tell others their occupation and brag about their sense of worth.  The most successful typically dominant the conversation while the humble and less important see their self-esteem slowly disappear when compared to everyone else.  When this evening is over, you have 3 logical choices.  First, stop wasting time and start doing what you love.  Second, become defensive and begin to gossip or re-evaluate where you are, set some goals and begin to incrementally chase after these fantasies.  May these words inspire you to press on, reach high and fulfill God’s plan in life.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

The Tug of War between Self-Esteem and Pride

On a level playing field, there isn’t much between winning and losing.  Whoever possesses confidence often comes out on top.  While talent does make a difference, self-esteem either strengthens or weakens individuals.  Too much success can go to your head, creating a false sense of security.  Thus, the tug of war between self-esteem and pride commences.

I will boast about a man like that, but I will not boast about myself, except about my weaknesses, 2 Corinthians 12:5.

The psyche craves encouragement, wanting to receive positive feedback.  Although constructive criticism can be beneficial, compliments boast one’s self-esteem like a pat on the back.  Yet, balance must be achieved by surrounding yourself with people who are  honest, realistic and truthful.  Maintaining this atmosphere is crucial to keeping you from going back and forth between self-esteem and pride.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me, 2 Corinthians 12:9.

Unfortunately, wounds to the soul leave most wallowing in self pity.  In a cruel world that can be unforgiving, recovering from any defeat is tough.  Perhaps, the words of apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians was meant to console and educate those with lost confidence.  Whenever you feel like you can’t go on, reach out to Jesus in prayer and God will provide the strength to carry on.  Subsequently, as the momentum turns in your favor don’t forget to thank the good Lord above so that pride doesn’t invade your soul.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

I Know More Than You Do

Human nature does different things to the soul.  To some comparison occurs, trying to find weaker individuals than oneself.  Others are persuaded to attack and destroy, tearing down others to build up their own self-esteem.  Thus, no matter where you go or what you do, you will always meet people who believe, “I know more than you do.”

“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “ ’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ – Matthew 22:36-37

Despite performing countless miracles, teaching with superior authority and outwitting religious leaders of his day, Jesus regularly encountered prideful men.  In their cunning minds, each thought, “surely I can trick Jesus into making a fool of himself.”  Not learning anything from the one before, each crashed and burned, trying to hide after their embarrassing moment.  Finally, Jesus’ enemies came to a realization in Matthew 22.

No one could say a word in reply, and from that day on no one dared to ask him any more questions, Matthew 22:46.

I don’t know if there is a perfect strategy to cope more with those who think “I know more than you do,” but its vital to stay true to yourself.  Your shouldn’t have to enter a pissing conest every day at school or work.  Rather, major in the majors and let the minor issues roll off your shoulders.  There is only One who is right.  Therefore, make Colossians 3:17,23 your daily goal so that in the end your efforts won’t be wasted in vain.

by Jay Mankus

 

Compare and Pride Spreads Fast

For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. – Galatians 6:3

As English classes increase in difficulty, students will eventually be introduced to compare and contrast papers.  The purpose of these essays involves emphasizing the differences of two topics, highlighting dissimilar entities, objects or traits.  This exercise enables individuals to examine, evaluate and develop necessary problem solving skills in life.

Whoever belittles his neighbor lacks sense, but a man of understanding remains silent. – Proverbs 11:12

Outside of the classroom, its not uncommon for adults and youth to compare themselves to others.  This often occurs to help build up one’s self-esteem by choosing lesser souls in their comparison.  Subsequently, instead of striving to improve one’s own life, people would rather attack and or tear down others to improve their own situation.  If these comparisons continue, pride will spread like gangrene, poisoning the hearts and minds within society.

You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. – Romans 2:1

Christians aren’t exempt from this temptation, with a long history of falling prey to this desire.  The apostle Paul calls out first century believers for passing judgment on the low lifes of their day.  Since no one is perfect, Romans 3:9-12, there aren’t any who are able or worthy to throw the first stone, John 8:10-11.  Therefore, before a spirit of pride runs rampant across America and throughout the world, these comparisons must cease, replaced by humble hearts which seek God first.

by Jay Mankus

 

True Remorse

The proud have a history of taking pride in their comfortable position.  With confidence not an issue, this personality trait tends to blind individuals from the actual state of their soul.  Consistent with first century Pharisees, these people ignore their own flaws, using comparison to enhance their self-esteem.  If necessary, personal attacks are used, putting down lesser humans beings to protect their status in society, Romans 2:1.

Meanwhile, the insecure take the fall, allowing the elites to push them around.  Unable to hide their emotions, depression, sadness and tears reveal the pain in their hearts. Call it being naive, yet faking their pitiful condition seems wrong.  Thus, humility reigns, displaying true remorse for the sins they’ve committed and the idleness preventing change.  Like tax collectors and prostitutes of the past, crowds flee, not wanting to be associated with those who have tarnished their reputations.

Not much has changed since Jesus first shared the parable of the prodigal son in Luke 15:11-32.  Two thousand years later, a sequel is being played out with a different cast of characters.  Most play the role of the older brother, yelling, “I told you so,” casting judgement on those caught in the act of sin.  The less popular actor, stumbles and falls until they reach the bottom of the barrel.  Unfortunately, it usually takes the pain of embarrassment to admit fault.  May anyone struggling to find your way come to your senses soon so that true remorse will be rewarded by God’s forgiveness, grace and mercy.

by Jay Mankus

 

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Fan or Follower?

As a person who enjoys watching sports, I’ve met several fare weather fans in life.  When the local team is winning, there isn’t enough room on the bandwagon.  However, as the years pass without a Superbowl win, Stanley Cup, NBA championship or World Series title, a mass exodus occurs.  This trend causes individuals to adopt other teams like the Dallas Cowboys, Miami Heat or New York Yankees to raise their self esteem.  Time will distinguish the casual fan from the avid follower, living and dying with their team despite the anguish or pain.

Jesus used another method to disclose fans from genuine followers.  One day, a first century doctor, watched in awe as Jesus began to ask a few people some questions, Luke 9:57-63.  Like a coach pushing his players to see who will rise to the top or quit, Jesus’ words pierce the hearts of these lukewarm fans.  Despite their good intentions, one by one, each fell by the wayside, unable to meet the conditions Jesus was searching for in a follower.

Whether I’m shaking my head at another Phillies loss, Eagles meltdown, Flyers defensive breakdown or 76er’s losing streak, being a fan in the greater Philadelphia area isn’t easy.  On the other hand, being a followers of Jesus is even harder, Matthew 10:32-39.  Sometimes I find myself in the shoes of the ruler in Matthew 19:16-25, wondering if I have the moxie to endure life’s trials.  Unfortunately, my actions don’t always express what I believe.  In the end, I’m at the mercy of God, relying on Him to make the impossible a possibility, Matthew 19:26.

Where do you find yourself on the spectrum of fan or follower?

by Jay Mankus

         

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