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November 26th, 2007

by Craig Groeschel

46 comments (+ Add)

Spiritual-Esteem 1 (of 4)


When people talk about “esteem,” it usually has “self” before it. I’ve heard some say that to be successful in ministry, one has to have a good self-esteem. I’d argue for another kind of esteem that I call “spiritual-esteem.”

I’ll define spiritual esteem this way: To find our identity in Christ, not ourselves, our performance, or our ministry.

In ministry, we often find our worth in one of two things:

  • What we’ve accomplished.
  • What people think about us.

For years, I rode an emotional roller coaster.

If someone said, “Good sermon,” I felt good about myself.
If someone said, “That wasn’t your best sermon,” I felt lousy.

If attendance was strong, I felt successful.
If attendance dropped, I felt like a loser.

If the weekend giving was strong, I had confidence.
If the weekend giving was weak, I lived in fear.

No amount of “self-esteem” could fix my problem. I needed (and still need) true spiritual esteem. I need to know “who I am in Christ” and find my security in Him alone.

You are not what you did, what you do, or what you are going to do. You are who Christ says you are.

In what areas of your life do you need better “spiritual esteem?”

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  1. Nov 26, 2007 at 6:28 am

    I love the visual of the “Roller Coaster� this morning! I truly believe God purposely doesn’t let me off certain Roller Coaster Rides in my life …UNTIL I finally let go of whatever issue I have and LIVE OUT the lesson(s) that He is trying to teach me.

    Unless I DIE to SELF daily, I will go around and Around and AROUND the same stupid issues…Get me off the ride!!!! :)
    So what do I mainly struggle with? Not connecting my fleshy FEELINGS with my ultimate worth.

  2. Nov 26, 2007 at 6:47 am

    I have grown to have a fairly healthy spiritual esteem, as it relates to “what people think�; however I could improve in the area of “what we’ve accomplished.� I can tend to own what my entire team has, has not or will accomplish.

  3. Nov 26, 2007 at 7:04 am


    Thanks for the reminder. My wife was trying to get that through my head last night.

  4. 4Ginger W
    Nov 26, 2007 at 8:09 am

    This is my first time to comment; do I get a free t-shirt? :)
    Since I’ve been working in ministry for the last year and a half, it has been more challenging to remember spiritual esteem as a single gal. Since I’ve been 30, I’ve been asked so many times “so, tell me again why you are single?” I think people may be trying to pay me a compliment, but it often causes me to feel all of the emotions Craig listed: lousy, loser, fear, and alone.
    I always love to read messages like this one, “You are who Christ says you are” because in the world ‘o single people, this statement must be our mantra if we want to represent God’s Kingdom positively in our world. (and yes, I just designated that single people have their own world… you may now pray for me)

  5. Nov 26, 2007 at 8:09 am


    thanks for the honesty. I needed to hear today that someone I think highly of and that most deem successful still fights this battle. I feel like the restraint is stuck and I can’t get off this roller coaster sometimes. Today was one of those days. thanks for the reminder. (BTW- I thought you were Superman?)

  6. Nov 26, 2007 at 8:11 am

    This is one of those things that I need to remind myself of daily. I have recently gone back and re-read Neil Anderson’s Bondage Breaker and Victory Over The Darkness, he really drives home the point of spiritual identity, that our freedom comes from who we are IN CHRIST. It is so easy to ride that roller coaster, even though I don’t want to I find myself right back on it.

    I need to remind myself to “Be” in Christ not just “Do” for Christ.

    On a side note, I lost my voice Saturday night, so thanks to Lifechurch Open, you were my stand in Sunday morning and you did a great job. Thanks

  7. Nov 26, 2007 at 8:12 am

    Definitely, I have an issue with finding my value in performance, but God is dealing with this as I write. I’ve been pushing, and pushing myself at work. The last couple of years I’ve been denying my human limits and convincing myself that I was invincible. I’m off work right now. They call it ‘burnout’. I’m choosing to call it: God Speak 101: A Time of Refreshing. I’m learning the lesson the hard way. My value is in Him alone.

  8. Nov 26, 2007 at 8:29 am

    Fantastic post. I would argue that people who say that they suffer from “low self-esteem” in fact have high self-esteem because in order to suffer from low self esteem one’s thoughts have to be consistently on…themselves. We are called to love God and others. If we are constantly thinking about our performance, how we feel, etc. then clearly our thoughts are primarily on ourselves when it should be on Christ and others.

  9. Nov 26, 2007 at 8:37 am

    Good topic Craig.

    I think about this when I’m writing a song or a blog. I think that maybe it is because my skills are lacking that it won’t be good. But I think that is because the spiritual-esteem is lacking, and it is really what God wants to do through me [us], not what I [we] can do or perform for God.

  10. Nov 26, 2007 at 9:12 am

    Even as a Communications Director, not a pastor, I sometimes struggle with taking my “accomplishments” and “successes” too seriously and personally - despite my personal mission to minimize the clutter, maximize the worship experience, and connect people to Jesus. I still seem to care [too much] what people think of my work … Thanks for your insight and reminder.

    Question: How do you then continue to lead from a position of strength when you’re in need of more spiritual esteem?

  11. Nov 26, 2007 at 9:19 am

    Hope ya had a great Thanksgiving, Craig!

    Though there are areas where I tend to struggle, this - gratefully - is not a regular one.

    It can creep (hmmm…I have heard that word recently :)) in, though, in my role as a producer at church. I sometimes will allow myself to get “beat up” internally if we have a worship experience that goes poorly. My Christ-given esteem, though, is steadily pushing that “creep” to a place I rarely go.

  12. Nov 26, 2007 at 9:28 am

    I often find that I can condition myself to feel confident in myself but not in who I am in Christ. I often mistake my arrogance and my so called “ministry talent” for Christ reproducing in me all that He desires of me.

    I long to be confident in Christ. In what He has created me to be.

  13. Nov 26, 2007 at 9:51 am

    RTG-I often find myself in the same position as you. Lately I’ve been realizing how much simply committing time in prayer and reading my Bible has added to my spiritual esteem…(who would’ve thunk, right?) :)

    the last month or two had been really solid and over the last week I relaxed and slacked off and what a huge effect it had on my heart and mind. I dove back in last night and continue to pray I will recognize what my soul needs in order to be a vessel He can use.

  14. 15Sam
    Nov 26, 2007 at 9:59 am

    Thanks so much for sharing your heart, Craig. This post rings so true to a statement that has been rattling around in my head for some time…
    I must understand who I am IN Christ and who Christ is IN me!
    As I have wrapped my arms around this, my daily life has changed dramatically.

    For Roland…
    I feel that leading strong is best exemplified by leading authentically. A statement that says something like…”The Holy Spirit has recently helped me to realize that I need to be more Christ-centric in how I lead and how I live my life.” won’t be viewed “weak”. It also shows that our spiritual journey is dynamic rather than static…always developing…always advancing…always becoming more like Christ.

  15. Nov 26, 2007 at 10:21 am

    Roland–I’ve found that time spent with God, reminding me who I am, reading His words to me, and learning to BELIVE them have helped me gain that spiritual-esteem even as I grow in leadership. As we grow God will continually bring us new levels of insecurity to overcome… He wants us to cling to Him to do this… it’s the only way…

    I’ve grown a lot over the last several years into this spiritual-esteem. It helps to have a constant reminder that I am not who others say I am, I am not who I say I am, I am who GOD says I am. Finding scriptures that speak to this place in my heart has been the most defining aspect of my growth. His WORD is the answer.

  16. Nov 26, 2007 at 11:00 am

    The more I spend with Christ and getting to know myself in the better I do in this area. I hate it when I allow myself to lose focus of who I am in Christ and begin to look at things from a “ME” point of view. My father once told me that I had BECOME extremely successful once I decide to make CHRIST Lord of my life. My father’s words did more than he could ever imagine. Thanks Craig!

  17. Nov 26, 2007 at 11:00 am

    Roland…in addition to the great comments above, I’ll add that inviting one or more folks to pray for me as soon as I realize I am battling an esteem “flare-up” is a great weapon against the lies the enemy would love for me (us) to embrace.

    In my example of when I serve as a producer, this can mean asking another producer or one of our other tech leaders to pray right there in the booth.

    **Simply typing these words is helpful since I am ON this weekend :) and I am not always quick to respond as I should.**

  18. Nov 26, 2007 at 11:02 am

    As a worship leader, I’m constantly fighting this. I’m always looking for feedback (good and bad)…and I’ve learned a lot from what others think of me.

    But ultimately we need to press on only for God’s glory. He is the perfecter of what I’m doing. So I always verbally give God glory whenever I can.

  19. Nov 26, 2007 at 11:24 am

    I would love to feel comfortable talking to the community in which I serve with. I need to feel like I can be transparnet with them without fear of rejection or persecution. I need spiritual esteem with them and the way they see me. I want to serve better and be more available to them as well.

  20. Nov 26, 2007 at 11:52 am

    I don’t think wanting feedback is a bad thing. We all need coaching at times. It’s being able to handle criticism without taking it too personally and being swayed by the fear of public opinion. If we have our identity with Christ right, that we are sons and daughters first. Knowing this, we can take the accolades and give God the glory, take the bad criticism and dump it, and take the constructive criticism and make the changes. Psalm 125:1 comes to mind, “Those who trust in the Lord…are like Mount Zion…which cannot be moved.”

  21. Nov 26, 2007 at 11:55 am

    I think you have coined a new term. Looking forward to the next 3 posts on this. I think you’re right on.

  22. 23Carrie
    Nov 26, 2007 at 12:37 pm

    This is something that is dear to me because I lived so long without spiritual esteem. First, I thought I could find meaning and esteem from my looks so I worked out like crazy and was constantly worried about how I looked. Well, that did not work out so well so I turned to ministry. I worked myself to death and was happy when I got compliments and devastated when the slightest bit of correction came my way. People in my life told me I was insecure but i just couldn’t see it. It was only about two years ago that God began to do something in me to make me realize that I needed to believe in who Christ made me to be. I was so full of fear of not being perfect, I forgot that I am great just the way God made me inside and out. It has been a battle for sure. You don’t undo crap (can I say crap? :)) that you have believed about yourself for a long time over night. But through Jesus and His strength, I am a completely different person. And people in my life have began to notice. And is super cool when others began to notice what Christ is doing in you and how He is transforming you. But you cannot achieve a healthy spiritual esteem on your own. Only the power of the Holy Spirit and knowing Jesus and His Word can help you.

    BTW- I hear ya Ginger. Being a person who is not married can add to the feelings of “not being enough” and it is a battle to remember that you are who Christ says you are :)

  23. Nov 26, 2007 at 12:49 pm

    Turned this into a meditation for our clergy chapter on wednesday:

    Thank you

  24. Nov 26, 2007 at 12:54 pm

    I think that, for me, I need more spiritual esteem when I am navigating new areas of leadership for me. I think that the reason is that I try to do what God is leading me to do, but part of it just feels like it is best guess. So, if I get criticized, I’m more open to that affecting me because I’m not entirely confident in what I’m getting criticized for.

    My struggle is to walk in the unknown with confidence.

  25. 26Zac
    Nov 26, 2007 at 2:10 pm

    This is such a great reminder for me. I try to find my worth in how many people are coming or how well my sermons are received when my true identity is found in Christ and what he has done for me. Thanks for the reminder.

  26. Nov 26, 2007 at 2:22 pm

    Roland, is leading from “strength” is the best place to lead? Maybe leading from authenticity about who Jesus is and who we are in him allows us to lead when we aren’t strong. Just a thought…

  27. Nov 26, 2007 at 3:03 pm

    I discovered the hard way that it is virtually impossible as a church planter not to struggle with the attendance and finances issues. I found myself always looking to the door to see who was coming instead of losing myself in worship.

    My ‘liberation’ came through someone on my lead team who reminded me that we do what we do for “An Audience of One.” This truly has served to change my focus radically. I am also learning that my sense of spiritual value grows in direct proportion to my becoming more like Christ as I grow to love Him more and more. This requires a committment of time and effort (even when I don’t feel like it) spent in His presence. I am plagued by the question “If you didn’t have to stand up and preach every weekend, would you spend as much time in prayer and study as you do now simply because you love God?”

  28. Nov 26, 2007 at 3:10 pm

    Thanks Craig!

    The way you write and teach has changed the way a lot of us (well, I know it has changed me) live and teach.

    I have purposed, the last few years, to live life the way God uniquely created me to live which is only found in Christ. Warren Wiersbe wrote that authentic people are people with direct firsthand experience, people who make mistakes but don’t accept any mistake as final. I’m working on not accepting any mistake as final.

  29. Nov 26, 2007 at 5:17 pm

    Wow… great post…

    I struggle…

    I have times where I believe that I am living all of life for Christ alone… good, bad, or ugly…

    But sometimes I struggle feeling used of God… and it is a temptation to lose focus…and start looking around at how he is using others and feel terribly insignificant…and give up, or sometimes stop…

    I have found that when I lose focus… and start to look around… (Like Peter in the boat on Galilee), I start to sink…whether it is depression, or losing motivation to minister, etc…I know its pride, and not very servant like… I wish it weren’t true.. but I do compare…and I do get depressed by it…

    I know that with Jesus at the helm, it is possible to walk on water though… so eyes off others, I am going to ask Jesus for help, and trust Him! Lord help me keep my eyes on you!

    Whether He uses me or not… it is still better to serve one day in His courts than ten thousand elsewhere!

  30. Nov 26, 2007 at 5:23 pm

    I think we all go on that journey of spiritual esteem, some move faster than others. I’ve been moving forward (finally) in the journey but I know I need to keep going.

    It’s pretty hard to put your full esteem in something that you can’t see and can only hear in the quiet moments.

    I need more spiritual esteem in all those areas you listed! I think we allow our soul to be too linked to those areas (and others). For me (if I can go on a bit) it comes down to faith too. I am who I am and I’ll do what I can do but I’m called to be a man of faith who trusts God to do what I can’t. If I’m faithful and obedient, God will do the impossible… sometimes even through me. That’s a cool thought.

    But yeah… I need to keep growing in my spiritual esteem so that the bad weeks don’t kill me! Thanks again for your continued life-giving input into the Kingdom of God around the world… SUCH an inspiration!

  31. Nov 26, 2007 at 6:34 pm

    Love this! I struggled with this for a LONG time and there is complete freedom in resting in my ID in JESUS!

    When I lead people, I have them take a piece of paper and draw a line down he middle..on one side, I have them write all the things people say about them - good or bad. On the other side, we go through scripture (eph. is great for this - there is SO much of it) and we we write what God’s word says I am in Christ(a masterpiece, righteous through him, not my works), etc.

    We look at the lists; tear it in half and THROW away what people say. If it doesn’t line up with God’s word, we don’t place our value in it. It’s a great visual!

    When you read the bible, keep a list with 2 columns - Who is God (His attributes) and WHO does He say you are in Christ. Result: Fall in Love with God and ID recognition! Awesome!

  32. Nov 26, 2007 at 6:50 pm

    Me again.. I will be bold…

    I believe there is an ID epidemic in the Christian body.

    People who get it need to lead others to IT! Churches need to provide more resources to believers so that some day we can operate as I believe the body of Christ was intended to operate: In unity - Out of an abundance (an overflow) of Christ - loving our very enemies and those people who come against us because we see their single need Christ/truth (not licking our wounds - mindless arguing/gossip)!

    The general population of believers has no power - no power to overcome little things - like rejection from a friend, a stranger, a headache, bad traffic…no power. How then can we even begin to do the greater works of Jesus?! Seriously - why would anyone want what we have?

    Craig, I would love to see you pour out truth to LC and see the power of the Holy Spirit BURN out of this city into ALL the world! On my knees and leaning myself patiently upon HIM!

    One more thing…to everyone…I started praying Eph. 1:17-23 for myself and then for all believers - I CANNOT believe how God has flooded the eyes of my heart to know Him and the flood of LOVE inside of me is overwhelming!! It’s CRAZY! PLEASE look this up and pray it!!!!

    I am so excited typing (and typing so fast!) this because I know this very reason is my purpose - why God put me here on this earth - this time! whew!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  33. Nov 26, 2007 at 7:03 pm

    I need to better my self esteem in being… just plain me at all times.

    Growing up in an atmosphere of fearing the pastor and putting ministers in a pedestal (then watching them fall), I grew up with the notion that pastors don’t have fun and are not human, but superheroes.
    I started to mimic them and do the same things that they did.
    But inside of me, I knew that it was all a front that I was putting on.

    I need to be me.
    Like me or not, I need to be me.
    What Jesus has called me to be.

  34. 36Rocky La Marr
    Nov 26, 2007 at 8:17 pm

    Craig, after being out of vocational ministry for over 7 years now, and wandering for most of those years, I have begun to dig my heels in and find some moorings to keep me on track and focused.

    One of those moorings is discovering who God is. Although it would seem that a preacher would have that base covered, it hasn’t been for me - even though I have taught lessons on that subject.

    But as I discover who God is - His promises, His character, His desires for us - I found out more of who I am in relation to the reality of who God is.

    As A.W. Tozer said, A proper knowledge of God rids us of a hundred lesser evils.

  35. Nov 26, 2007 at 8:48 pm

    Hey Craig, that “Self Esteem Shop” is a few miles away from me! Where did you get the picture?? Ha!

    As far as “esteem”… GOD SAID: “Let us make man in our image and after our likeness”… And God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them (Genesis 1:26-27; cf. 9:6). The key, for me, is to KNOW my creator and by doing this, I know who I am.


  36. Nov 26, 2007 at 9:46 pm

    Awesome post! This is just what I needed right now…thanks!

    I am a pastor of a young and (I guess) fairly successful church, but I don’t often feel that way. There can be 3,000 people on a weekend and I can still feel like a loser making absolutely no difference at all!

    Two weeks ago 104 people came to Christ — I wondered why it wasn’t more (if I’m honest). Nearly 1,000 this year, and I wonder if the people will tire of me by next week!

    Anyway, I’ve learned that self esteem is a black hole, while finding your worth in Christ never fails!

    Thanks for your post!

    Pastor Rob Singleton

  37. Nov 26, 2007 at 10:35 pm

    Again, you guys keep training me. Thank you.

  38. Nov 27, 2007 at 5:58 am

    Great post! I have often struggled with this and have to remind myself of the person I am to Christ.

    I see this a lot in the church as well. We are so success driven in the States. So for many people as long as they are out-performing themselves for the last period of measurement, they are fairly happy about themselves. That eventually leads to a crisis, since we can’t always out-perform ourselves.

    I would love to see a follow-up series on what does success look like for a Christian.

  39. 41Phil
    Nov 27, 2007 at 7:54 am

    It seems like this is the same battle between our physical and spiritual natures that Paul wrote about. I have heard you refer to the “Third Line” a few times. Is complete submission that line?

  40. Nov 27, 2007 at 12:51 pm

    Thanks for bringing things into a more sacred perspective. On a lighter note, I just finished writing about technology-esteem for a class I’m taking.

  41. 43Ben
    Nov 27, 2007 at 1:49 pm

    My friends at Bridgeway Church here in OKC have this to say as an introduction in their Leader’s Field Guide:

    God doesn’t need you to build his church - He is building His church and the gates of hell can’t stand against it;

    God won’t love you any more or any less based on your performance as a leader, he is already as crazy about you as he was when he made you;

    The Father’s dream for you is that you become more and more like his Son;

    God is after your heart not your skills. If things get difficult that is a good thing. Leadership carries with it a unique suffering that is a good thing if you understand that;

    Your primary purpose is to know and love God. He will use the difficulty adn failures more than the victories as He drawss you to Himself.

    Say each of these three times before going any further:

    “The Father himself loves me;”

    “Jesus is enough to satisfy my heart;”

    The Spirit gives me everthing I need.”

  42. Nov 28, 2007 at 8:44 am

    I really don’t think as Christians we understand what strength is. I have spent the past two months at a church plant and tried to reach neighbors and anyone I can talk to with Jesus. I have had limited success…seed planting mostly…but then I was in the restaurant last night and our waiter comes over to ask us for our order. I had a good conversation with him and invited him to our church. He seemed genuinely interested. How is this different from what I was doing? Not much, but that divine appointment happened because God made it happen. It was not from my will. But I would also hesitate to say that I should have just waited on God’s ability to send people from the beginning because I think God wanted to show the difference between His strength and mine. It was almost like God was saying, “Give me all your abilities and self-esteem and confidence. Are you serious? Is that all you’ve got? Now I will show you where your confidence should be.”

  43. Nov 30, 2007 at 8:23 am

    [...] Spiritual-Esteem Go ahead and read ‘em all! Craig is hitting something I’ve felt strongly about for years - go for it brother! [...]

  44. Feb 22, 2008 at 11:58 am

    [...] I listened to this message Craig Groeschel from Lifechurch was also doing a series on Spiritual Esteem, on the Life Church Swerve blog, in which he challenged the way we view church, success, and the [...]