Growing a Childs Self-esteem

8 01 2018

Maggie has never had a problem with her self-image.  She loves life and makes the best of every minute. She loves people and believes that they all love and accept her unconditionally.  Maggie has never stared into a mirror and felt hopeless. She’s never even desired to look at herself in a mirror and make any kind of judgment.  She is perfectly content with who she is, what she wears, the shape of her body, the color of her eyes, the size of her nose, and the shape of her ears.  Maggie blindly trusts in her Creator.  She is content to be who she is. You see, Maggie is our yellow Labrador Retriever.

There is a lesson in Maggie’s self-acceptance. Maggie is loved and accepted for who she is as a part of our family. She doesn’t need to perform for us. Does she always obey and not get into trouble? No. But her disobedience has never changed the fact that we love her, and she knows it. Neither has it changed how she sees herself. Maggie does not compare herself to the other dogs that wander into our yard. She’s never put herself on a diet because of a fear of losing her wonderful figure. She’s not even concerned about belching or the breath that comes from never brushing her teeth. Maggie is secure in just being a dog and knows her significance to our family.

Early in life children are quite similar. They can look in a mirror and see only good.  Children believe what they’re told.  If I tell my daughter 3 + 3 = 6, she’ll say, “Okay Daddy, 3 + 3 = 6.”

If her older brother tells her the next day that the sum of 4 + 2 = 6, she’ll disagree, because the day before she was told that 3 + 3 = 6. Your pre-school children think in a one-dimensional manner. They do not think abstractly. They cannot decipher truth. They only know what you tell them.

A child receives his self-image through how he perceives the adults in his life perceiving him. When I tell my daughter that she’s beautiful, she will believe that she is beautiful. You see, someone who is very important to her, someone she can trust, someone who is bigger, older, wiser and stronger told her something about herself, and she has no reason to not believe it.

Obviously, the opposite is true. If I, as a parent, tell my children they’re stupid, dumb, bad, worthless, or they have no value, they’ll believe those things and act accordingly. Today we would call this emotional abuse. Years ago it was simply punishment through shame or keeping children “in their place.”

The first stage of a child discovering his worth is through the eyes of those who are important to him. The second is similar but has more to do with performance.

It is not long until we as parents expect things from our children.  We expect them to do their chores, keep their rooms clean, and finish their homework. When they do, we may reward them. When they don’t, we’re sure to let them know about it. Expectations are not wrong; chores are not wrong; rewards are not wrong; and words of correction are not wrong. What is wrong is if you develop within your child this formula:  accomplishment + performance = approval/reward.

God has expectations of His children, but it is not our performances or our accomplishments that gain His approval. God is perfect, yet He is not into perfectionism. In our mere existence, He approves of us.

Let me illustrate. When you brought your newborn son or daughter home from the hospital, did you expect anything of him or her? Did you say, “Here’s the refrigerator; when you’re hungry go ahead and grab a bite to eat”? Of course you didn’t. You expected to do everything for this child without return. It was lots of hard work and sleepless nights. In this baby’s mere existence, you approved of him or her. You had no expectation of performance. That baby, without earning it, had your approval.  Likewise, in your mere existence before God, you have His approval.

When your child begins to relate his or her performance to your approval, he begins to equate what he does as more important than who he is. Ask anyone who felt that he could not perform well enough to meet his parents’ standard, and he’ll tell you that he did not feel good about himself.

If we as parents are relating self-esteem to what our child accomplishes, we are wrong. God is not a harsh taskmaster who only gives His approval when we accomplish something for Him. Before Jesus began His earthly ministry, before performing one miracle, or sharing His first sermon, His Father said to Him, “…this is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” What was He pleased with? What had Jesus accomplished?  Even before Christ began His public ministry, His Father affirmed Him and spoke His unconditional love and acceptance to Him.

The answer to a child’s self-esteem is not a high-esteem. The answer is a God-esteem. Your love, acceptance, and approval of your child must eventually translate for him into knowing his heavenly Father’s love, acceptance, and approval.

How is this accomplished? I must correct and reward my children. It’s a part of life. However, I must differentiate that while reward and correction have to do with behavior, it is never a question that I love and accept their personhood. In their mere existence, they are important to me. I always approve of them as individuals. They can never do anything to not be my children. A verse in Colossians, chapter one, will help to explain this principle. Verse 21 tells us that we were at one time alienated from God—even in our minds, because of our evil behavior. “But now He has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in His sight, without blemish and free from accusation…”

Can you grasp that you are “holy in His sight, without blemish and free from accusation”? Can you instill these words of truth in your child? This is an esteem not based upon performance or accomplishment but based upon what Christ has done.  It’s a God-esteem!

Note: If you would like this article in tract form you can order it here.


Contentment Is Now, Not When

1 01 2018

Maybe you already know this, but I’m in my sixties. Seems a bit weird to even write that line, but I love this stage of life; it has a certain…appeal to it. You get to hear the statement, “I already gave you the senior discount.” I also hear this comment all too frequently, “Your wife looks younger than you.” To which I normally reply, “Yes, she does, but she’s actually older than me.”


So, yes, I’m old(er), but I also have to tell you, I am content and the benefits of contentment far outweigh discontentment. Discontentment brings with it distrust, unhappiness and the lack of feeling settled. There is this overall sentiment of…someday. Someday I’ll have what I need. Someday I‘ll be comfortable. Someday I’ll get to travel. Or, someday I’ll have that dream job.


To be in a perpetual state of discontentment is like fishing everyday and never catching a fish; there’s just something missing. You read the book, bought a rod and a reel, have the correct bait, but nothing seems to be working. It’s a proverbial irritation, a low-lying discomfort.


Discontentment is fueled by comparison as you continually find yourself coming up short or feeling insignificant. In discontentment you have a closet full of clothing, but it’s always one suit short. Discontentment means you’re never driving the car you really want to drive (I mean that literally and metaphorically).


Decades of life do not bring contentment; they bring experience and wisdom, if you’re pursuing maturity. There’s this realization that things, all things, take a back seat to satisfaction and acceptance. Contentment knows when enough is enough and less is more. Contentment cares less about the gift and more about the giver. Contentment is the importance of a personal note in your Hallmark card or the text message that simply reads, “I love you.”


“Contentment is now, not when.” That is the word of revelation God spoke to me one evening while driving home from my office many years ago. I choose contentment today over discontentment. My Father has given me everything I need and I can trust Him for everything needed in the future. Contentment is the state of my heart.

You too can choose to live in contentment in 2018. It’s a brand new year with brand new opportunities.

A Special Christmas Video For You

24 12 2017

For my Christmas blog I decided to share with you my grandson’s favorite Christmas video.  I hope you enjoy it as much as he does, because he insists on watching it over and over and over.  Maybe you won’t watch it repeatedly, but I trust you’ll enjoy the Christmas message it brings.

Thank you for a wonderful year of responses to what I have written on a weekly basis.  I do enjoy your feedback and look forward to a brand new year of sharing with you. Have a very merry Christmas with you and yours.  Enjoy the celebration of the birth of our Savior!


How Important Is It To Take a Sabbatical?

18 12 2017

Should we wait until our leaders are experiencing physical, emotional and spiritual exhaustion in their lives before we develop a sabbatical policy for our local church or ministry? In a New York Times article titled, “Taking a Break from the Lord’s Work” (Aug. 1, 2010), Paul Vitello wrote, “Members of the clergy now suffer from obesity, hypertension and depression at rates higher than most Americans. In the last decade, their use of antidepressants has risen, while their life expectancy has fallen.”

Leaders are failing and quitting at alarming rates. Do they need proper financial support? Yes. Do they need vacations? Yes. Do they need time with their families? Yes. But, is this enough? Could these failures be a direct result of depleted spirits, drained emotions and not enough rest? Could the lack of healthy recharging today have something to do with those untimely failures affecting so many lives?

Leaders burn out and leaders need intervention. Leaders get into unhealthy life patterns in order to serve others and miss out or set aside certain godly disciplines that will help to maintain their personal health. A two to three-month sabbatical can change that when the right plan is attached.

For Biblical insights into a plan, how to take a sabbatical and the four-step process of a healthy sabbatical, see or recommend the book, The Value Of A Sabbatical, Refocusing Your Life for a Healthy Future. You can order it here.

What God Delights In

11 12 2017

Quite a number of years ago I fell in love with a couple of verses found in the Old Testament from the prophet Jeremiah. This man of God heard the Holy Spirit whisper in his ear these words:

This is what the Lord says: “Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on the earth, for in these I delight,” declares the Lord.

 This verse often surfaced in counseling sessions. It often came to mind when I thought I accomplished something. And it made an appearance from my spirit when personal priorities seemed a bit awry. I am unsure how these verses hit you, but our boast cannot be in our wisdom, our strength or our riches. These are areas that this world looks to first and in a desperate attempt, hopes to develop a psychology of acceptance, approval and identity.

While God gives us certain gifts and abilities, what He truly desires from His creation is that we know and understand who He is. He is the One who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness in each and every one of our lives.

13 Things to Consider when Purchasing Your Next Car

8 12 2017

Here’s a really practical, tip-filled article to help you with your next car purchase (pass it along to your friends). In 1996 I helped to start a car business with a friend and I have been purchasing cars for people ever since.  I love providing this service and am amazed at what people do not know when it comes to a car purchase.  Maybe you have something to add to the list, feel free to comment.


  1.  Look for or find an honest licensed car dealer who also does custom orders/purchases directly from dealer-only auctions.  They can find what you desire and not have to necessarily run it through the expensive prep of their retail lot. It is a more direct/custom purchase.


  1. Cars do lose value; we all know that.  But there are brands that lose less value.  For example, the number one selling car in the world is a Toyota Corolla.  This car will maintain a relatively decent value.  Honda’s are similar.  You want to go luxury?  Try Lexus or Acura, they will not lose their value nearly as quickly as say, a BMW or Audi.


  1. Save cash for your car. Cash purchasers almost always make better deals. But, if you absolutely have to loan money, find a credit union.  Locally we have credit unions with interest rates of 1.49% for used cars.


  1. Buy used from a dealer who can also repair your car.  They will normally stand behind the sale.  That said, stay away from the TV guy who says, “Buy here, pay here, even if you have no job.”  That dealer will be charging you an exorbitant interest rate.


  1. Another idea.  Locate a “wholesaler.”  This is a person who purchases used trade-ins from large dealerships and who prepares them for wholesale, dealer only auctions.  Now before anyone rejects auctions as the place for “junk,” please understand that every dealer you know uses them.  It is how the used car business operates today.  Most every retired rental car and post lease car heads to auction to be sold to the highest bidder.


  1. Find a dealer who still has a “90-day unit.”  Most large volume dealers will send their 90-day units to the auction to sell. If they do not, it looks like they are not selling/moving cars.  They will pick up new cars at the auction(s) while they are also selling these units.  The dealer would rather sell to Joe Public at a discounted rate because at auction they will often lose money on the vehicle.


  1. Negotiate a price.  If the deal is a non-negotiable offer, be sure to check on floor mats and the most recent state inspection.  While you’re at it, ask for the “dealer fee” to be dropped or renegotiate it.


  1. DO NOT blindly trust Carfax or similar Internet reports.  I have seen cars at auction that have had serious repairs while the Carfax states the car is “accident free.”  Someone with a good eye, a body shop guy, a really good mechanic can tell if the car was in an accident.  There will almost always be paint indicators of such work.  By the way, it is really difficult today to find a used car that has not had some kind of fender bender, but I look for that car that was hit in the rear or the backside vs. the front.


  1. Talk to people; they are your best resource.  Find that gently used car that belonged to someone’s grandma who no longer drives.  You can also find these cars at estate sales.  It is not a surefire deal, but at least you know if the car was maintained properly or not.


  1. Before trading your car, go to and check the “trade-in” price.  It will give you an index to work with.  I tell most people, don’t trade your car, sell it outright and you will most likely do better without a trade.


  1. The very best time to purchase a car is at the end of the year, the last three weeks of December.  The second best time is at the end of a quarter and the third best time is at the end of the month.  These are times where dealers are doing everything they can to sell greater inventory in order to post higher sales numbers.


  1. Pray.  Ask God.  Be patient and be in agreement if you’re married.  Wait for the best deal, there are tons of cars out there.


  1. And lastly, avoid “in season” purchases.  What does that mean?  If your part of the country is approaching winter, it is THE WORST time to buy a four-wheel drive.  Purchase those coming out of winter when dealers are attempting to dump them.  If it’s vacation time, hold off on that new van, everybody wants one in that season and it drives the market price up.

There you have it. I hope these practical words of advice help you in your next vehicle purchase. Happy shopping!

Bonus: Often persons ask me about “flood cars.” These cars are not allowed to be sold at dealer auctions, but if they slip through be sure to ask the dealer where the car was last titled (its life history). Then do the smell test. A car that was detailed after a flood condition will always smell moist or stale (sour). If the car is sitting in the sun (and it should be), moisture might gather on parts of the window glass — another indicator. Cars can recover from floods, but if the total interior is not removed (including the complete dash unit) and cleaned, the stench will remain. If you suspect something is wrong, you can request that the dealership remove an interior door panel to look for signs of water damage.


Remember in the Dark What You Learned in the Light

4 12 2017

Over decades of suffering from the disease of glaucoma, my 94-year-old father is now completely blind. Of course, it is a life challenge, but I have learned something through his blindness that applies to my spiritual life.

Having had sight, he was familiar with his surroundings and that’s helpful now that he is blind. He doesn’t see, but he knows where everything is in his house. He is familiar with the setting and remembers how to “see” and get around even though his world is dark. He knows where every wall is, where every chair is located and how to get to the refrigerator or use the bathroom. He knows these things from having walked in the light.

When life feels dark or prayer seems to go unanswered, remember what you learned in the light – remember where and how to walk. Don’t let the darkness you feel fool you; it’s only temporary. Keep moving and “see” in the spirit because we walk by faith and not by sight.

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