“One of the best things you can do for your future is to learn to be kind and positive toward yourself. Don’t limit your potential by dwelling on the negative. The better you feel about yourself, the further you’ll go in life.” – Pastor Joel Osteen
It’s true, isn’t it? But it’s also somewhat challenging. It seems like one of the chief problems we have in today’s culture is that people are either too full of themselves or far too negative about themselves. The Bible doesn’t guide us toward either of these extremes. In fact, as with most issues, it teaches us to live balanced.
More on that in just a bit, but before we go there, in recent posts and messages, we’ve been talking about Jesus’ command that we love one another. And one of the best ways we can show love to one another is by serving one another.
(If you’ve missed any of these messages and would like to review them, you may do so via this link.)
I was moved by a recent podcast on the subject of learning to love oneself that I listened to by Joel Osteen. This blog will, in part, be an edited transcript of some of my key takeaways from that lesson.
To be able to show love to and serve other people, we must first be good in our own skin; to be accepting and loving of ourselves. (…you’ve perhaps heard the saying, “hurt people, hurt people?)
Aside from our relationship with God, the most important relationship we have is with ourselves.
Too many people don’t like who they are. They focus on their faults or weaknesses; they relive their mistakes and failures and wish they were different. They tend to think, “if only I could change this or that about myself, then I would be happier about who I am.”
Instead of accepting themselves as a prized creation of the Creator; they’re critical toward themselves and it affects, not only their own demeanor but it also bleeds over into their relationships with others. They wonder why they are not happier and why they don’t have better relationships with others.
It’s because they don’t like themselves.
If you don’t get along with you, you’re just naturally going to have a hard time getting along with other people. All four gospels record Jesus as having taught that we are to love our neighbor as we love ourselves.
And you’ve probably already caught it but just to be sure; we’re not going to be able to show love to our neighbor very well if we don’t first love ourselves. If we’re unhappy about ourselves in some area, then that’s going to be reflected in the way we are able to show love for our neighbor.
The best thing you can do for your family, your friends, your co-workers; any of the people you come in contact with on a daily basis is to learn to be good to you. Be kind to you. Be merciful to you. Be forgiving to you. Be loving to you.
You want to be good to others; why can’t you be good to yourself?
You compliment, are graceful to and admire others. When is the last time you expressed any of these things to yourself? What might happen if you did?
You have enough people and circumstances against you. Don’t be against yourself. Instead of focusing on what’s wrong with you, start focusing on what’s right with you. You may have weaknesses; you may have made mistakes; we all have.
But there’s a lot more right with you than there is that’s wrong with you. You have maybe heard the expression, “what you focus on, tends to expand.” Dwelling on the negative doesn’t help you to do better. Beating yourself up for past mistakes doesn’t move you forward.
The better we feel about ourselves, the better we’ll do. The more we like ourselves, the further we’ll go. We can’t give to others what we, ourselves don’t possess. If you’re in turmoil on the inside; mad at yourself; hard on yourself, critical, condemning; that’s what you have to share with others. See how this works?
Take those things you don’t like about yourself and make a plan for change. Not expecting a complete shift in a short time. Work on incremental change; celebrating your progress along the way. Incremental change with due recognition leads to long-term success.
“Well,” you may say, “the Bible also teaches that we are supposed to remain humble.” But humility can exist alongside love for and acceptance of oneself. In loving ourselves, we can acknowledge the great work God has done and can do in and through us.
James 4:10 says, Humble yourselves before the Lord and He will lift you up.
What would happen; how might it change your outlook if tomorrow morning as you awaken, you call out to God in thanks for the wonderful way He created and continues to sustain you?
If you were to say, “Thank you, God, for creating me to be a member of your family. Thank you that you’ve given me a spirit of hope, the desire for good things in my life, and the opportunity and ability to achieve them. Help me to learn to love myself so that I may show love in the way you call us to, for others. I know I’m not perfect and won’t be this side of heaven, but I am so thankful that I have you as my teacher and guide. Help me to see me as you see me, your precious child, full of grace and potential.”
God loves and accepts us just the way He made us. Now we have to learn to love and accept ourselves, as well. Not arrogant or proud. But loving and accepting of who we are.
God makes each of us as individuals. Unique and priceless masterpieces – each and every one of us. Learn to become comfortable in your own skin – who God made you to be, not fake or an imitation. If you covet what someone else has, seeking to copy them; it’s like telling God that what He made in you is not good enough…that He made a mistake.
God doesn’t make mistakes.
Are you fighting what makes you unique; frustrated over what you think is a weakness when it could be a strength? Quit wishing you were something different and step into who God made you to be. He didn’t accidentally give you the wrong personality. He matched you with your world. You have exactly what you need to fulfill your destiny.
If you’re waiting to perform perfectly before you feel good about who you are and how you love others, you might wait your whole lifetime. If God would have wanted us to be something different, he would have made us that way. If He wants us to grow into something different, He’ll help shape us that way.
We have to accept and love ourselves, while we are in the process of changing.
God knew we would have weaknesses; He made us the way that we are, likely, in part, so that we would realize that our life will always be infinitely better with Him alongside us.
2 Corinthians 3: 12; 17-18 speaks to this where Paul writes,
12 Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
Some translations use the term, “from glory to glory” in these passages, meaning that, in Christ, we are undergoing transformation throughout our earthly lives.
We need to learn to enjoy and appreciate the glory we are in at this moment. We may not be where we want to be, but we are not where we used to be.
Instead of looking at how far we have to go, we need to look back and thank God for how far He’s brought us. It takes a mature person to say, I’m okay with where I am while I’m on the way to where God’s taking me. Don’t allow your weaknesses to take up residence in the forefront of your mind. Instead, focus on the fact that, in Christ, you are forgiven, redeemed, a masterpiece made in the image of almighty God.
When you do this, you give yourself permission and the ability to love yourself so that you may love others in the same way…just as you are called to do.
Right here with you,