FIVE WAYS TO BUILD SELF-RESPECT
These recurring themes fall into five categories and are usually given in this order:
- Your behavior
- Your talk
- Your reactions
- Your thoughts
- Your goals
Behavior. Just think about what you have done this week. Some of your behavior was commendable, sacrificial, far beyond the call of duty. However, some behavior may not have been commendable, but selfish, reluctant, far less than your best.
Words. Think of some of the words you’ve used–words of praise, of reassurance. There were helpful, constructive, supportive words. Then there might have been some murmuring, complaining, griping, nasty words–-even lies.
Reactions. What you do is observable and what you say can be heard. But the way you react to what’s been said and done is not readily observable or audible. This is the invisible, private part of your world.
You may have sensed love, joy, peace, gentleness, tenderness, appreciation within you.
On the other hand, you may have nursed some hatred, bitterness, anger, rebellion, envy.
Thoughts. Another invisible, private part of your world is your mind. No one can observe your thoughts. You can be thinking wholesome, positive, constructive, complimentary thoughts.
On the other hand, your mind can be filled with negative, destructive, uncomplimentary thoughts–even if you look angelic.
Goals. Then there are your goals, your purposes in life, your objectives. You may have positive, constructive goals, or negative, destructive ones. We all have goals. Sometimes our goal is to not have goals. Or to not reveal them.
YOU NEED AN ACCURATE REFERENCE POINT
Loving yourself begins with self-respect, a good self-image. And the first step to healthy self-respect is locating yourself in five areas: behavior, speech, reactions, thoughts, and goals.
To locate yourself, you need a reference point–-a mirror–-something to truly reflect and portray where you are right now.
Two men came out of a mine shaft. One had a dirty face. The other man’s face was clean.
The man with the clean face looked at his companion, concluded that his own face was also dirty, and left to wash his face.
The dirty-faced man didn’t wash up. After seeing his friend’s clean face, he decided there was no need.
They used each other as reference points. Both came up with the wrong information. We need a reference point, a mirror, a guidebook that is consistently accurate.
I’ve used such a guidebook, and in twenty-five years of counseling I’ve never found its principles to be incorrect.
That guidebook is the Bible.
NOT ENOUGH TO LOOK IN THE MIRROR
It’s not enough to stand in front of the mirror and see what’s wrong. We need to take calm, corrective action. James 1:23-25 tells us:
For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man shall be blessed in what he does.
How can it be said more clearly? Without action your information is not being used to your advantage. You can decide to start.
NO ONE MAKES A LIFETIME COMMITMENT…
A commitment requires a first decision and then a renewal of that decision whenever necessary.
Can you remember the day you borrowed some money from a bank? You committed yourself to repaying that loan, didn’t you?
Yet each time you had an installment come due, you had to recommit yourself to that promise.
LIKE GOING TO COLLEGE
Can you remember the day you made the initial decision to go to college?
Good. But if you’d stopped there, you’d never have made it through.
Each time a test came along, you had to renew your original commitment and take the test. You had to make daily decisions to study or not to study. You were reaffirming your initial commitment.
When it came time to do your research papers, you had to reaffirm your commitment. To get through college, you had to renew your commitment probably a dozen times a day.
Or you wouldn’t make it.
WANT IT BAD ENOUGH?
If someone wants to do something bad enough, he’ll do it.
I knew a young boy who didn’t want to go to church. In fact, he resisted church stubbornly. No matter what his parents or friends would say or do, he was determined not to go to church.
He was ready to face the disapproval and pressure of family and friends to stick with his decision. It was a matter of will. He would not go to church!
Then, I’ve known teenagers who were just the opposite. No encouragement from home. For a fact, discouragement. Yet, you couldn’t keep them from church.
They would get there for the Sunday morning service and get back for the youth group on Sunday evening and stick around for the evening service.
And every Wednesday night they’d be there for prayer meeting. No encouragement from their relatives… their schoolmates. It didn’t matter.
They always made it to church.
Anyone committed to turning away from early childhood training will do so, regardless of pressures not to do so.
It has been my observation that people who have rejected their early training can also turn from their present behavior.
I’ve watched people who are consciously wrong and justify it because of their past, then choose to stop being wrong in spite of the past.
I’ve observed young people adopt an entirely new pattern of behavior after only one year of college and then turn back to their early behavior just as abruptly as they turned away from it.
You can choose to read pornographic literature or you can choose not to.
Likewise, if you make a commitment to study the Bible and live accordingly, no one can stop you.
But, to remind you once again, a commitment made today will need to be renewed again and again as other opportunities tempt you to divert your time and effort.
COMMITTED TO WHAT?
The pivotal point leading to a life of joy, peace, and an abundant life is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. Jesus said:
He who has My commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves Me . . . (John 14:21).
It is within your power to decide to know and keep God’s commandments. But you must renew that commitment many times a day. There will be many temptations along the way to draw you from your original commitment. The Bible contains a reassuring promise:
Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, that you may be able to endure it (1 Corinthians 10:12-13).
The next chapters deal with the basis for loving yourself–-for becoming indestructible.
1. Do advantages in life produce contentment, joy, peace, and a sense of self-worth or self-respect?
2. What are the three things that hold the key to contentment?
a. Love _________.
b. Love __________________________.
c. Love ________________.
3. The pivotal point leading to a life of joy, peace, and an abundant life is ________ ___________________________________________________________________.
4. What did Jesus say in John 14:21?
5. It is within your power to decide to know and keep God’s commandments. But you must ___________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________.
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Continue on to Lesson 4.