I had a self-esteem problem.
As a young adult I felt troubled over strained relationships with my parents and my wife. I collected self-help books in my search for solutions to the defects I saw in my self and my relationships.
I didn't like myself as much as I thought I should.
None of the self-help books I read offered satisfactory solutions. As I finished reading one book, I'd read another.
I repeated this cycle many times, never ending up with a version of myself that satisfied me.
There are many voices in the world offering to help you love who you are and become a better version of you.
It works for some people. It didn't work for me.
What worked was when I devoted myself to daily Bible reading and asking Jesus to inspire me through its inspired words.
I discovered that Jesus offers a different way than that offered by the world's self-help gurus.
Jesus' mission isn't to help us improve our self-esteem. His mission is to cleanse us from sin and reproduce His self-sacrificing love in us.
The more self-assured I am, the less I recognize my need for more of Jesus.
Ellen White, in her book Steps to Christ, put it this way:
"The less we see to esteem in ourselves, the more we shall see to esteem in the infinite purity and loveliness of our Saviour. A view of our sinfulness drives us to Him who can pardon; and when the soul, realizing its helplessness, reaches out after Christ, He will reveal Himself in power. The more our sense of need drives us to Him and to the word of God, the more exalted views we shall have of His character, and the more fully we shall reflect His image," p. 65
Absorbing the content of self-help books improved my self-confidence. I presented myself well. People perceived me to be a spiritual person, and a devout Christian. My church ordained me as an elder at 25 years old. I had a good job. My connections with people I cared about improved. I could talk about Jesus. I looked, acted, and talked like a Christian, but there was still an emptiness that lingered.
Reading the Bible was more like reading an instruction manual than a letter from a friend.
I read for information rather than transformation. I felt far away from Jesus.
When you spend enough time relying on your own self-confidence instead of relying on Jesus, you start living as if you need Jesus only in times of trouble. It seems that you can handle everything else on your own.
But living without a daily walk with Jesus leads us into more trouble than we need.
Jesus promised, "If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you," (John 15:7 NKJV). If we remain in Jesus, every trial is an opportunity for Jesus to supply all our needs. Jesus went on to say, "These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world."
(John 16:33 NKJV).
Jesus' best version of you doesn't dwell on personal problems. Jesus' best version of you dwells in Him, His words, and His power.