S04 Ep06 – Is Self-Control More Important Than Self-Esteem?


02:39 – 06:57 = Topic Introduction and Context (Self-esteem and self-control).
06:58 – 09:25 = Effects of having low self-esteem.
09:26 – 12:17 = Self-control and virtuous deeds by the person.
12:18 – 15:47 = Self-esteem exercise and day to day actions (practicing gratitude).
15:48 – 17:39 = Truth, beauty and goodness.
17:40 – 17:50 = Closing.

Self-esteem is not highly valued by some. Instead, self-control is valued to the max. – Pitting it against each other.

  • Self-esteem is seen by conservatives as problematic, since the self, I, their view should not be esteemed.
  • Therefore, they encourage self-control as a replacement. 
  • Alternative thinking is that unless self-esteem exists, self-control will be deficient’. 

Define the terms:

  • self-esteem is confidence (a positive belief in self) in one’s own worth, abilities or morals (or a combination). OR a subjective sense of your own value and worth – there’s nothing anti-Christian about that. 

But we understand the sense that some consider the need to focus on growth in self-esteem as a ‘selfish’ endeavour – in that it focuses too much on ‘me’ and how valued I am.

Someone who knows that they have infinite value isn’t a selfish person, someone who knows their worth, isn’t a selfish person UNLESS they derive their value and worth from merely their own existence, then they may conflate that and become quite pride-filled and selfish. 

A Christian SHOULD know their value,

A Christian SHOULD know their worth,

And they SHOULD be confident in that both of these come from God and the relationship that we have with him, as a Child of God.

That’s where the core of a Christian’s self-esteem lives.

From there, we have an obligation to uncover the gifts we have been given by God, and to grow them, and gain a sense of strength and possession of the gifts in order to put them to service, to Glorify God. 

A Christian with low self-esteem will ALWAYS have less responsibility in building up the kingdom of God, because they’ve not yet been able to yield fruit of what has been given them.

  • Matthew 25:29 ‘For everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away’.

We have been given a responsibility to care for what we already have that includes the absolute basics of living from a place of knowing who we are, and whose we are, and doing so with confidence. 

The passage just quoted is fundamentally contrasting a relationship with God vs a materialistic and power based outlook.

For the believer who experiences the love of God, he will always experience more.

For the materialist – he will only ever lose things.

However where this connects nicely is that the more we receive God’s love, the more we develop a sense of our own unique value and worth and then the more we can be attuned to the worth of others. 

It is insane to me that some folks think that thinking of myself as hopeless or shameful or wicked, will actually place me in a position to mission for God. No!

Now did the saints see themselves as wicked or hopeless? Yes, they often saw themselves in all their weakness, but they also saw the other side as well, that is, the glory of God who has redeemed them and the glorious disciple they are called to be.

Self-control on the other hand is temperance and fortitude in action – it’s the ability to regulate emotions, thoughts and behaviour to appropriately correlate with whatever is the most loving response in front of us.

How can we exercise the virtue of temperance if we first don’t have some level of assurance and confidence in our ability to be able to do so, which doesn’t come from self-control because that’s just the action aspect, it comes from self-esteem which is the belief aspect of the action. 

Further, if we don’t understand that we are made in the image and likeness of God, we will not be able to regulate ourselves in a Christian way. Any attempt in regulation will be marked by pride or by self-loathing, affecting the way we view God and any mission He wants to place on our hearts.

We will attempt regulation because ‘We are too strong to be controlled by this!’ Or because ‘we’re dirty’ both of which eventually wind up back in complete lack of regulation, because any changes in behaviour have been first order changes only – Changes in external actions or surroundings.

As important as these are, if they are not eventually followed up by 2nd order changes, that is changes of interior attitude, we will eventually move back to our old behaviour.

EXAMPLE Not only should we stop gambling and set up boundaries to stop us from gambling, we need to develop deeply held convictions which accord with reality, about who we are, who God has called us to be, and why a gambling addiction is contrary to this identity in order to develop lasting changes and virtues in fortitude and temperance. 

This is often referenced at Virtue Ministry – Virtues are NOT just actions. A Virtuous person doesn’t just DO the right thing, they live love excellently.

  • The integration of thoughts, emotions, motivations, and desires – they are all aligned towards love.

A Virtuous person can only live out the virtue of temperance – the virtue of moderation – by exercising the muscle of self-control because they believe they are owed something which comes from an appropriate sense of self-esteem, AND/OR that another is owed something which comes from understanding another’s value and worth not only because our faith says what another’s value and worth is, but because we ourselves believe it to be true for us – not only in thought, but also in experience.


Padre – Book – De Lubac’s The Drama of Atheist Humanism

Stina– Went for a drive – overwhelming sense of being gifted by God that this area is now permanent and home, re: permanent residency. 

If you enjoy our Show Notes, you can listen to our Living Fullness Podcast on Spotify, Apple podcasts, directly from our website or watch our guest interviews on YouTube! Also check out our social media pages Living Fullness Podcast on Instagram , the closed Facebook group for links and discussions, and Virtue Ministry on Facebook and Instagram.

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