Self-Esteem (Part 4)

X. A major current cultural example of the love of self and the bad psychology of self-esteem is the media-driven Hydra of the cult of celebrity. A. Consider some of the current benchmarks for entertainment like American Idol, Dancing With The Stars, reality shows, etc., etc., etc. What is the driving force behind the desire for celebrity (the condition of being much extolled or talked about; famousness, notoriety)? 1. “The short answer is ego. Insatiable ego....The desire to become a star requires an incredible appetite for attention and approval.” (Breitbart and Ebner, Hollywood Interrupted) 2. Biblically, this is the pride of life (1JO 2:16) which expresses itself through vanity (self-conceit and desire for admiration), against which we must fight. EPH 4:17-18. 3. This inordinate desire for drawing attention to oneself in competition with others of the same mindset is a factor in the increasing display of flesh and of outrageous behavior. 4. But for all of the glory of celebrity, the celebrity world is commonly characterized by a dissatisfied existence and emotional distress unto self-destruction. 5. “The problem is, living off approval and applause, and deriving your sense of self- worth from the praise of others, may feel great, but it also produces great problems. When it comes to being worshipped, human beings just don’t make very good gods, something the Good Book warns about repeatedly. Worship is meant for God alone. But when humans are idolized and worshipped – and when they lower themselves to accept that homage and bask in its glory – major conflict mysteriously appears within the idolized 'star.'” (David Kupelian, The Secret Curse of Hollywood Stars) B. The internet has made the cult of celebrity the stuff of the everyday person. Self-Esteem 8-18-13 Page 7  1. Virtually anyone can have their own website or YouTube channel. a. Everyone can be a star and be the center of attention and admiration! b. But if everyone is a star, the distinction of stardom vanishes. c. As one de-motivational poster puts it, “Just remember, you are unique---just like everyone else.” d. And this harsh reality is the stuff of increased self-promotion to stay ahead of the crowd and/or a feeling of desperation, insignificance and depression. 2. Social networking sites are driven by approval ratings: how many “likes” can you garner? This is especially an area of concern in young people, though not limited to them. a. Too much of what goes on with things like Facebook is little more than the auctioning of oneself for the praise and admiration of others caught up in the same helium. b. What is promoted as an incredible tool for bringing people closer together and making them happier through connections has turned out to have a backlash effect. c. “Scientists have confirmed that Facebook can make you miserable. A study comparing how young adults felt at different times of the day with their Facebook use showed that the more they logged onto the social networking site, the less happy they were. The more the participants had other forms of contact with people, such as face to face or over the phone, they tended to feel better over time....'On the surface, Facebook provides an invaluable resource for fulfilling the basic human need for social connection,' said Ethan Kross, a social psychologist who led the work at the University of Michigan. 'But rather than enhance well-being, we found that Facebook use predicts the opposite result—it undermines it.'” (Richard Gray, Science Correspondent for The Telegraph, art. Facebook Can Make You Miserable) d. What has been discovered is that young people in particular (who are yearning for attention, approval and admiration of peers) get caught up in a micro-celebrity game and are crushed emotionally if their lives aren't as beautiful as somebody else's life who gets all the “likes.” 3. Similar observations apply to the trend of “selfies” (taking photos of oneself for personal and public admiration). a. This is narcissism and vanity at work! And the hoped-for glories of celebrity and specialness come with various negative effects. b. “Dr. Jessemy Hibbard, a chartered clinical psychologist, said, 'Images are a way for young people to seek approval and attention from their peers. However they can also lead to cyber bullying and issues with self confidence. The majority of teens post the photos in search of assurance and compliments, but they are making themselves vulnerable to negative comments and abuse. It's all about comparison and young people are using social media to measure themselves against others. If a teenager posts a picture and it doesn't get any 'likes' or if it is their birthday and they don't receive a certain number of posts, they see that as an embarrassment. It is seen as an indication that they are not popular. There is an expectation now amongst young people that they should get comments on all of their posts and images....Social media sites have come under scrutiny recently following the the suicide of 14 year-old Hannah Smith after she was targeted Self-Esteem 8-18-13 Page 8 by trolls on the social networking site'” (Rosa Silverman et. al., The Telegraph, art. Selfie Photographs Trend Puts Children at Risk of Abuse) 4. Mind how the aforementioned researchers simply confirm what the Scripture teaches about the error of undue emphasis on oneself, as this study has already amply shown! 5. Remember what Scripture teaches against seeking the praise of men, especially when you are measuring your worth by others' opinions. a. First, it is not good to have a heavy dietary need for other's praise. PRO 25:27. b. It is unwise to measure ourselves amongst and by ourselves. 2CO 10:12. c. Paul deemed the opinion of men about himself to be of much less importance than God's opinion of him. 1CO 4:3-4. e. If your works are good works, who cares if nobody but God takes notice of them? His “likes” are the best and bring the only true satisfaction and peace to the soul. ISA 49:4; 1JO 3:21. e. We are to love the praise of God more than the praise of men. JOH 12:43; 5:44; ROM 2:29. f. We are particularly warned against being liked by an unbelieving world that we should rather hope would “unfriend” us. LUK 6:26; JOH 15:19; JAM 4:4. g. People that live for the recognition and praise of other men set themselves up for traps. PRO 29:5. C. The publishing of detail after detail of oneself (pictures, personal information, desires, plans, gripes, rages, etc.) has other negative implications. 1. The more your life is an open book, the more you are scrutinized. Mind that many employers now scrutinize the online admissions of job-seekers and employees. 2. The more your life is an open book, the more you set yourself up for exploitation by people who build a fairly accurate profile of you. 3. Information is power! Excess information about yourself does not empower you but others who can use that information to their advantage over you. a. The tech-age has virtually undressed us all! b. It is a little inconsistent to gripe about the seizure of 4th Amendment rights to privacy by the government when we volitionally advertise everything about ourselves online for public consumption! 4. Remember what the Scripture says about excessive speech (and digital publishing is a form of speech). a. (PRO 10:8) The wise in heart will receive commandments: but a prating fool shall fall. (1) prate: To talk, to chatter: usually dyslogistic, implying speaking much or long to little purpose. (2) One of the reasons a fool doesn't receive commandments is because he spends all his time talking, not listening. (3) One social networking service is appropriately named Twitter. AA. twitter: Of a talk or chatter rapidly in a small or tremulous voice. BB. tremulous: Characterized or affected by trembling or quivering from nervous agitation or weakness, of mental or physical origin; hence, fearful, timorous. Self-Esteem 8-18-13 Page 9 CC. Mark it well: the chatterer is telling others by their chattering that they have weaknesses, fears and insecurities. And this the subtle will exploit to bring the chatterer down. b. (PRO 10:19) In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin: but he that refraineth his lips is wise. c. (ECC 5:3) For a dream cometh through the multitude of business; and a fool's voice is known by multitude of words. d. (PRO 29:11) A fool uttereth all his mind: but a wise man keepeth it in till afterwards. e. (PRO 17:28) Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding. f. (JAM 1:19) Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: g. “They never taste who always drink; They always talk who never think.” (Matthew Prior) XI. Another manifestation of the self-esteem, self-love dynamic is the inferiority complex. This is the notion that one's sense of personal value is measured against the natural looks, natural talents and the attainments of others. Mind that this again is a demonstration of measuring oneself by comparison with others, not by one's conformity to eternal values. A. First, as harsh as it sounds, one may just be inferior. But inferiority is a subjective value assessment when the yardstick is merely comparison and competition amongst men. 1. Moses was “...exceeding fair...” (ACT 7:20), a “...goodly child...” (EXO 2:2), whereas Jesus Christ had “ form or beauty that we should desire him” (ISA 53:2). But which of these was the most precious to God? 2. As seen earlier, it is God's province to give earthly blessings to one but not another. Some are endowed with natural wisdom, beauty, strength, etc. which may be withheld from another that God may be glorified in their weakness. JOH 9:1-3; 1CO 1:27-29; 2CO 12:9. 3. There are some facets of inferiority that can be offset by effort. a. Muscular weakness can be offset by conditioning. b. Ignorance can be offset by education. c. Lack of comeliness can be offset by good cosmetic care but most of all by beauty of character. d. Sinful, rebellious human nature, though, tends to prefer envy to effort, and so does nothing about its circumstance and ultimately holds God accountable for a perceived inequity. It is easier to have a pity party, play the “blame game” and be a murmuring complainer with a sense of entitlement. B. If one didn't love himself so much, he would not be so disturbed over his deficiencies. 1. The cure for this love of self is a grasp of the greatness of God and the sinfulness of self. ISA6:5. 2. Every man ought to be thankful that he is as well off as he is! JOB 35:15. 3. We are to learn to be content with what we have. PHIL 4:11-13; HEB 13:5; 1TI 6:6. a. Contentment contrasts covetousness (inordinate and culpable desire of possessing that which belongs to another or to which one has no right). Self-Esteem 8-18-13 Page 10 b. The covetous man has such a high opinion of himself (self-esteem) that he deems it unjust to be as he is and unjust that he should have to make any effort to improve himself where he could do so. Mind that God does not cater to the “I was given less, therefore I did nothing” mindset. MAT 25:24-27. c. The covetous man is an idolater (EPH 5:5), a belly-olater (PHIL 3:19); he is playing God---the self is sovereign. d. What is interpreted as a lack of self-acceptance may really be covetousness. e. What is interpreted as self-hatred may really be hatred of one's circumstances and of the effort required to compensate for those circumstances.
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