God's Answer to Our Low Self-Esteem
Ex. 3 & 4

Rev. Bryn MacPhail

I think it would be safe to say, that there are times when all of us lack confidence - occasions when we endure periods of low-self esteem.

Why do we experience low self-esteem? What are the issues that affect our self-esteem?

For some people, the issue of self-esteem revolves around our social skills , or lack there of - we nervously communicate in social settings and often wonder whether we are likeable enough.

For some of us, our self-esteem is driven by appearance . Do we consider ourself too short? Too tall? Overweight? Or even, too thin?

Perhaps the most common issue affecting one's self-esteem is one's occupation. How prestigious is our job? Are we even employed? How much money do we make? What about those who are homemaker's?

As difficult as this may be for the 20th century mind to comprehend, it needs to be said that God cares very little for these things. It matters very little to God how you look or what you do for a living, but you already know that, don't you? Then, if we know that God cares not for these things, why do we let them dictate our perception of our worth?

Unfortunately, churches aren't immune to low self-esteem either. I'm sure we all know someone who talks about their church with great zeal - about the beauty of the building, how well attended the services are, or how eloquent the preacher is.

But are those things really the measure of a good church?

What do we need then? What do we need as individuals, and as a church, to overcome low self-esteem?

For the answer to that question, let me direct your attention once again to the Scripture passage in Exodus, chapter 3 and 4.

In these chapters we read about the calling of Moses. Arguably the greatest Old Testament figure, perhaps the most influential person from the nation of Israel, Moses was also a tremendously insecure person.

Yes, it is true. During the early stages of his ministry, Moses was very insecure. He was lacking confidence. But in this passage, we see how God deals with Moses' low self-esteem.

The text begins in chapter 3 with Moses looking after his father-in-law's flock, when an angel of the Lord appears to him from the midst of a burning bush(v.3).

At that point, God calls out to Moses from the midst of the bush saying, "Moses, Moses!".

God identifies Himself as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob(v.6). Upon hearing all this, Moses became afraid and the text tells us that he hid his face(v.6).

The Lord tells Moses that He has seen the affliction of Israel, and He has come down for the purpose of delivering Israel from the Egyptians(v.8).

Not only did God promise deliverance from Egypt, but He also promised to bring them into a "spacious land", to a land "flowing with milk and honey"(v.8). That is to say, God wasn't simply going to deliver them from their poverty - He intended to deliver them into prosperity!

By this time, Moses must have been standing there thinking to himself, "This sounds great and all, but what does this have to do with me?".

"Why is God telling me all this? I was just minding my own business, looking after the flock".

Then the Lord said to Moses, "come now, and I will send you to Pharaoh, so that you may bring My people, the sons of Israel, out of Egypt".

What a commissioning! Almighty God appears to Moses and tells him that he will be single-handedly responsible for the freedom of the Israelites.

It is after such a commissioning, however, that we begin to see the insecurities of Moses surface, his lack of confidence, and lack of what today's society would call "self-esteem".

What is interesting to see, as we move through this passage, is the obvious difference between how God deals with Moses' low self-esteem compared to how a 20th century physchologist, or do I dare say, how a modern day minister might deal with someone with so many insecurities.

After receiving the profound commissioning of God, the first thing out of Moses' mouth was simply, "Who am I? "(v.11). Moses was asking, "Who am I to represent God? Who am I to do God's work - to free the sons of Israel from the Egyptians?".

Moses considered himself unworthy of such a task. He might have even been wondering if God had the right person, "Who am I?", he asks.

If Moses was a 20th century figure, I wonder if a counsellor would have responded to Moses' question, "What do you mean, who are you?". "Moses you're a somebody! You're a talented human being, and you can make a difference! Look deep inside yourself and you will see that!".

God, however, didn't say anything like that. He didn't say, "Moses I have chosen you because you are the most capable person I could find". God didn't say, "Look deep inside yourself and you will succeed".

Instead God simply says, "Certainly I will be with you".

No confidence booster. No stroking of the ego. No assurance of Moses' own value or abilities is given. Only the promise "I will be with you ".

An equally insecure Gideon is told by God in the book of Judges that he will deliver Israel from the hand of Midian. With the same uncertainty as Moses, Gideon asks, "How shall I deliver Israel?".

God's response is the same, "Surely I will be with you".
Moses' first objection is refuted, "God, who am I? Am I the type of person who can handle this incredible task?".

"Don't worry about that, I will be with you ".

A doubtful Moses continues to express his reservations in the form of a question, "What do I tell them your name is? What do I say to them?"(v.13).

God responds by telling Moses everything he needs to know, and everything he needs to communicate to the people of Israel.

God even tells Moses His name, "I Am who I Am"(v.14). This is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob - the God of the covenant.

God explains to Moses how He will "stretch out His hand " and "strike Egypt" with miracles forcing Pharaoh to let the people of Israel go.

Now Moses' second objection is refuted. Moses wanted the support of knowing God's name and His intentions and God provided him with all the information he needed.

God had given Moses plenty of reasons to have confidence in taking on this mission yet he remained doubtful of his abilities , "What if they will not believe me, or listen to what I say?", he asks in chapter 4, verse 1.

A modern day counsellor might respond by saying, "Moses believe in yourself and they will believe in you".

The Lord, however, did not respond to Moses in this fashion. God did not say, "Don't worry Moses, they'll believe you".

Instead, God responded by saying that through the power of His miracles, the people would believe Moses. God promised to miraculously, and supernaturally intervene on Moses' behalf to facilitate their belief.

Moses must have realized that it would be rather bold to continue to resist God's assignment, so he begins his last objection with the humble expression, "Please Lord".

This Hebrew expression literally means something like, "with your permission Lord", or "pardon me Lord".

Moses goes on to say, "I have never been eloquent, neither recently nor in time past, nor since Thou hast spoken to Thy servant; for I am slow of speech and slow of tongue"(v.10).

Essentially, what Moses is saying is, "Please Lord, not me. I'm no good with words - never have been. I'll probably mess everything up if You send me. Please don't make me go."

Have any of you ever been asked to teach Sunday school and responded "I'm not very good with the youth, I can't relate"?

Have any of you passed on an opportunity to share your faith with a friend or family member thinking, "Oh I'm not very good at sharing my faith. It's not my gift".

This passage should make it clear to all of us that God is not looking for capable servants - He is looking for willing servants. You see, God is in the business of making willing servants capable.

So don't make the same mistake as Moses and think you must first be capable to be used by God. You need only be willing and trusting that God will do the work through you.

The Lord answers Moses' final objection by asking him, "Moses, who do you think makes a person's mouth? Isn't it I, the Lord? I will be your mouth and teach you what to say."

Even still, Moses insists, "With Your permission Lord, send someone else"(v.13).

The text tells us in verse 14 that the "anger of the Lord burned against Moses". The Lord had refuted all of Moses' objections, but Moses still refused to believe he was capable of delivering Israel.

What transpired was God gave the job to someone else, Moses' brother Aaron. Thankfully, God's mercy and grace prevailed in spite of Moses' insecurities.

God did let Moses lead the people of Israel across the Red Sea after all. We also know that Moses was chosen to receive the 10 commandments on Mt. Sinai and read them to the people.

Moses, by the grace of God, did eventually succeed. But Moses didn't succeed because he had faith in himself, for you can clearly see that he didn't. Moses succeeded when he put His faith in God. He succeeded when he began to believe God's promise, "Surely, I will be with you".

In the same way, Christ doesn't tell us to believe in ourselves, but He tells us to believe in Him.

Not in ourselves, our parents, our friends, our spouse, but in Christ.

If we put the majority of our confidence in anyone but God, the result will ultimately be disappointment.

If you put all your confidence in your children, they will eventually disappoint you.

If you rely too strongly on a friendship, they too, will let you down.

If you depend too heavily on your spouse, they will fall short also.

If you rely on your minister, they too, will fail you.

And if the only person in the world you fully trust is yourself, that too will lead to eventual failure and low self-esteem.

Why is this so? Because we are relying on human beings - human beings who are by nature, unstable and imperfect. That's true isn't it? Nobody here is perfect. We try our hardest, but we sometimes fail.

In comparison, we worship a God who will never fail us. We have a God that we can trust completely , a God we can depend on, and a God who loves us.

Moses was partly right. He was incapable of delivering Israel. What he failed to see was that God was capable.

Of all the people of the earth, Christians should be the most confident, not because we have anything in ourselves to boast about, but because our lives are fueled by the Holy Spirit of God.

The reality is, however, that we all struggle with feelings of unworthiness. All of us experience times when our confidence leaves us, but friends if you can only remember one thing today, remember this:

that surely the Lord will be with you wherever you go.

The answer to our problem of low self-esteem should be obvious by now - not easy, but obvious: Trust in God's presence - trust Him to help you with every task and trial life brings.

To trust in God's presence is to believe that He is truly our Shepherd. It is to believe and act knowing that His rod and His staff will indeed comfort us.

Don't put too much stock in what the world values - careerism, charisma, appearance. Don't even put too much stock in what many churches value - the size of the building, pews that are full, a minister that everyone likes.

Instead, put your stock in this:
God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost dwells among us. Surely God is with us, and He will help us accomplish His will if we only trust in Him above all else. Amen.