Overcoming Self-Esteem Issues

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by aj underwood

Have you ever struggled with how you feel about yourself?

Regardless whether or not it’s involved with your looks, intelligence, athletic abilities, occupation, possessions, or any other way we tend to measure ourselves, how you feel about yourself is important.

It’s called self-esteem.

Self-esteem is defined as “a confidence and satisfaction in oneself.” Many of us struggle with some form of self-esteem in our daily lives. But what happens when it gets in the way of your relationship with God? Thoughts fill your mind, like: God doesn’t hear my prayers; God would never ask me to serve; God would never forgive me; or, God can’t use me.

Those of you who know me in the real world might be shocked to find self-esteem and insecurities are daily struggles for me. In fact, overcoming these struggles has become a major focus for me this year.

Because I know other people struggle with these same issues, here are a few thoughts on how to overcome struggles with self-esteem and strengthen your relationship with God:

Jesus called the unqualified and messed up

If Jesus did his ministry here on Earth with uneducated fishermen, corrupt tax collectors, and a man who would eventually betray him, He can use you too.

I’ve heard a saying that “God doesn’t call the qualified, he qualifies the called.” I find it to be so true today. Throughout scripture, we see God use adulterers, murderers, thieves, and the like to do his work here on Earth. He called them and then qualified them. Don’t ever believe this lie we tell ourselves that we can’t be used by God. If Jesus forgave those who had a hand in crucifying him, then he will forgive you for cursing, not praying this morning, speaking harshly to your wife or kids, succumbing to your addiction, or whatever sin you battle.

1 John 1:8-9 says “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” So remember, it is ok to not be ok, but it’s not ok to stay that way!

Letting go of sin is just as important as asking forgiveness

Obviously as Christians we want to steer as clear as possible from sin, but as humans it’s easier said than done. The fact is we are human and we have sinned, do sin, are sinning, and will sin. Now, as a Christ follower, you and I should do our best to remove sin from our lives by identifying and admitting our sin to God and asking for his help to overcome it. But there’s one more step we must take: letting go and forgiving ourselves for sinning.

I have heard many stories of people who have come to Jesus and given their lives to him, but a few months later are still torn up inside over something they did before they began following Christ. What they don’t realize is God forgave them for their sins when they confessed them and decided to follow Jesus. The issue which holds them back is they don’t forgive themselves. As you go along the process of sanctification, which is a fancy word for becoming like Jesus, you will learn that sin will have less and less appeal to you and maybe even start to disgust you.

1 John 2:1 has a powerful reminder for us. “But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.”

It’s an encouragement that, even though the divide sin has caused between us and the Lord doesn’t disappear the moment you confess your sin, you and I can let go and trust that God has forgiven us and then ask him to give us the strength to get past it when it comes up again.

I’m good enough, smart enough, and doggone it people like me

Who would have ever thought these words from the great Stuart Smalley could help you with your faith, but I am here to tell you they can. Ephesians 2:10 starts off by saying “For we are his workmanship…” and, if you know the God that I know, he didn’t put all that work into something that wasn’t amazing.

This God is the One who created the sunrise and sunset, the Great Smoky Mountains, the Grand Canyon, crisp Autumn mornings, and, of course, you. Now, the above quote is obviously a bit of satire about motivating oneself, but I believe each of us is God’s workmanship and he made you and me exactly as we are for a purpose. We aren’t all the same, which is just another part of God’s amazing handy work.

So don’t let yourself get in the way of the work he has planned for you. You are you for a purpose and no one else can fulfill God’s plan for your life.

Ridge Kids Makes Learning The Gospel Fun

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by ashley rutherford

Ridge Kids means to me that I know my children are being taught the Gospel truth each Sunday. That is first and foremost the most important thing to me about Ridge Kids.

Beyond that, they are being loved on wholeheartedly by the volunteers. And a big bonus for the children? Ridge Kids makes learning the Gospel FUN!

My 3 girls always love going downstairs to learn and play. They love the lessons and the people they are surrounded with.

I am thankful for all of the volunteers who teach and love these children every Sunday…I am thankful for Ridge Kids ministry!

You Can Make A Difference

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by rob purdie

A common struggle for all people working and volunteering in various ministries is the challenge of being able to see or understand the impact of our efforts. It can be a source of frustration to wonder if what we’ve done has made a difference.

We were blessed, however, to see the results of impactful children’s ministry in our own children over the course 20+ years.

Our experience in a denominational church was a struggle for us both. But we saw to it that the classes that our own children were in were always staffed with loving, knowledgeable teachers (even if it often meant that one of us was teaching, as it did).

In another church, we saw a vibrant and caring children’s and youth ministry. We became part of the children’s ministry team as our own kids grew to love the youth group and teen ministries. We were grateful for the energetic and caring leadership of the programs.

Still, as a 4-5 year old teacher, I often wondered if my efforts on any given Sunday were really “taking root.”

We eventually left that church due to some rather unpleasant circumstances. It took me a long time even want to be in fellowship again. Then, after God (and Susan) convinced me to start looking for a church home once more, we couldn’t seem to find the right fit.

In this time, all three of our children began serving God in strong, impactful ministries. Laura is our middle child. For years, she had been called to children’s ministry in Haiti. When she saw the devastation of the 2010 earthquake there, within a week she had arranged transportation and a ministry to serve with there.

A few years later, our oldest, Megan, and her husband, Shane, began serving with a group called Youth With A Mission (YWAM). They travelled to Thailand and Vietnam as missionaries. When they returned, they joined the staff of YWAM San Francisco, where they still serve today.

Our youngest, Robbie, also did discipleship training with YWAM. He served in Mediterranean Europe, helping Middle Eastern refugees getting off boats and in refugee camps. After his return, he struggled with God’s call on his life. But now, he too serves as a missionary technician with CROWN Ministries, a branch of YWAM located at the University of Nations in Kona, Hawaii.

All of this certainly reaffirmed that we had made a lot of the choices God was steering us toward. And it all would have been confirmation enough for us.

But God had more . . .

After our negative experience, and many months, we found a wonderful church that Susan loved. And they managed to corral me by having an anointed Bible senior pastor, a fantastically blessed worship leader and a youth and kids ministry team that didn’t know the word “quit.”

Soon, we were part of that “no quit” team.

One day, not very long after we had become youth volunteers, we saw a young girl come in to the youth group of our new church home. While she looked familiar, I couldn’t quite place where I had seen her before.

After speaking to her and her family, we discovered she had been one of our 4-5 year olds at our previous church many years ago. Now a teenager, her fond memories of our earlier class were a reason she and her family would ultimately choose to join us at our new church.

People say that Jesus doesn’t have favorites. I disagree. “At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, ‘Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’ Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.  Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me.”    – Jesus Christ, Matthew 18:1-5.

Most parents know that young people can be challenging. But every parent knows what a great reward it is to know that a child’s life is better, more joyful, because you’re a part of it. And we all can be.

My Name is Alyssa and I Love To Serve In Ridge Kids

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by alyssa bowlin

One Sunday morning during service someone had made the announcement that they were looking for new volunteers to help serve in ridge kids.

As I thought more about that I thought it would be a great opportunity for me since I do love to work with kids to get more involved in the church.

Right now I currently volunteer in the three to five year old class and I absolutely love it! I get to see and be a part of the excitement these kids have to learn more about God. Their enthusiasm has definitely rubbed off on me.

Since I started volunteering I have dug deeper into the bible so I would have a better understanding of what I am teaching them. I have met and made new friends by getting to know the other volunteers and some of the parents.

I genuinely look forward to Sundays to not only go to service and hear the message prepared for us but to see all the kiddos I have grown close to.

What Does Ridge Kids Mean To Me?

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by jessica duncan

My daughter Avery (age 4) and I love Ridge Kids!

At only 4 years old, she has had to deal with so much change and craziness in her life that I thought it would be impossible for me to help her cope. She lost her daddy 8 months ago, which rocked both of our worlds. I had to explain to her every day that her daddy would not be coming home. At only 4 years old, you can imagine, she could not understand.

I tried reading her books about heaven, but she had never even heard of heaven before. I beat myself up because I hadn’t even told her about Jesus. As soon as I was able to get the energy to make it out of the house, we went to the Ridge one Sunday and have been there ever since.

Avery came out of her first class in love with her teacher and telling me all about Jesus. It was very hard for me to talk to her about God, because honestly, I was still a little mad at Him, but I didn’t want her to be. The teachers there have helped me break the ice in talking to Avery about Jesus. She is learning so much, and she is learning in a way that she can understand.

She is putting the pieces together in her own time in a way that she can understand. She now knows that God loves her and loved her daddy. She knows that her daddy is in Heaven with Jesus and that Heaven is an amazing place.

The excitement that the teachers at the Ridge have towards teaching the kids about Jesus makes Avery excited to tell me and everyone we know about Jesus. This excitement and childlike view of the world has also helped me cope. The simple lessons that Avery is learning at Ridge Kids are good reminders for me as well.

I am so thankful for Ridge Kids and the love and support they have shown to us.