Do you know people with an inflated sense of their own abilities? They are “legends in their own mind.” Okay, maybe they have some talent—but they’re not that good. You probably can’t stand being around them because this attitude is a real turnoff.
Now—have you ever searched your own mind to see how much you might think the same way?
Oh, I’m not like that, you say? Don’t be so sure. Fact is, we all have a natural tendency to think more of ourselves than we should. And not just thinking we’re better than we really are. Perhaps you never thought of it this way, but even if you are absorbed with negative thoughts about yourself, that is still being self-absorbed! It’s the same problem—with a different twist.
God has an incredibly valuable perspective on this matter. He has recorded priceless wisdom about how to steer clear of these mental traps and maintain a healthy, balanced, positive yet realistic perspective on yourself and your abilities. Let’s see what He has to say about it by looking into the Holy Bible. That’s right—this article requires that you get your Bible out and look up the scriptural references to be able to answer the questions. Let’s begin!
Where Pride Will Lead You
1. What will happen to the person full of pride and pomposity, puffed up about his or her own accomplishments? Proverbs 11:2; 16:18; 29:23.
God repeatedly warns that such attitudes are sure to have negative kickbacks. Those with unrealistic ideas about themselves will smack headfirst into reality sooner or later—and the more out of whack their opinions of themselves are, the more painful reality will be. 1 Corinthians 10:12 warns, “[L]et him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.”
2. Some may say, Well what if I am the best? What if I do deserve praise and honor? Isn’t it “false humility” to pretend otherwise? How does the Bible answer? Proverbs 27:2.
The fact is, if you are convinced that you deserve praise and honor, you simply don’t have the right perspective!
Think about this. It is common for teens to talk big about their abilities. Yeah, I’m really good at basketball, they might say. But what standard are they measuring by? A one-on-one game against a professional basketball player would make them look pretty idiotic at the sport!
If you have a little brother or sister, imagine overhearing them talk to their friends about how great they are at something. What would you think of that? This should give you some insight as to what God thinks when we act this way.
Praising your own accomplishments is unbecoming to everyone. Let your accomplishments speak for themselves. If someone else thinks your deeds are praiseworthy, that is their opinion. Accept the compliment, and leave it at that.
3. Did the Apostle Paul also warn against self-importance? Romans 12:3.
4. Jesus Christ spoke a parable about this subject. What did He say would happen to the person who believes he is worthy of the greatest honor and just takes it for himself—such as seating himself at the head table of a wedding? Luke 14:7-11.
5. What did Jesus tell His disciples when they were arguing among themselves about who should have the highest office in God’s Kingdom? Matthew 18:1-4.
Jesus says we need to have a humble, childlike attitude. We will see why as we continue this study. But consider this for a moment. Do you feel you know better than your parents? Do you have a hard time respecting them, or listening to their advice or instruction? If so, why? That is totally contrary to the attitude Jesus advocates here in Matthew 18. A childlike attitude is one that acknowledges the fact that your parents have been around longer than you and have experienced more, and that they are actually looking out for your best interests. A childlike attitude accepts that they probably know better than you, and has the humility to listen to them. Do you have this attitude?
Now let’s understand the real basis for true humility.
A True Basis of Comparison
Long ago, there was a rich man. He was a great builder, a successful businessman. He commanded thousands of workers and owned thousands of livestock on a great plot of land. He was a family man, with 10 children! He was also a righteous man. His story is recorded in the Bible: His name was Job.
The problem was Job had a terrible flaw. He had too high an opinion of himself—of his awesome building projects, his large and happy family, his own good deeds. His perspective was off, and God wanted to help Job to see himself as he really was.
1. How did God humble Job? Job 1:6-22; Job 2:1-7.
God allowed Satan the devil to attack and to curse Job in some severe ways! Everything that Job had built up—his cattle and servants, his family, even his own health—were taken from him. This is a trial more terrible than any of us have had to endure, yet it served an important purpose.
After all these tragedies happened, Job’s friends came to grieve with him. Then they turned on him, saying he must have committed a great sin for God to be cursing him so much. Much of the book of Job is devoted to Job’s response to their accusations—justifying himself and maintaining his high opinion of himself.
2. Did one of Job’s friends pinpoint his weakness? Job 35:1-4.
Elihu tried to get Job to compare himself to the great God.
3. Still, did it take God personally speaking to Job for him to get the message? Job 38:1-3; Job 40:3-5.
Now, we know God had a high opinion of Job too (Job 1:8). But Job was not nearly as great as he thought he was. It took God’s words to move him to see his human insignificance compared to God’s greatness!
4. How did God illustrate His point to Job? Job 38-39.
What an amazing Being! We must understand this. No human can match God’s accomplishments. The greatest architectural projects in the world are child’s play compared to the spectacular Earth we live on, or the vast universe around us. No matter how large a man’s family, that achievement is nothing compared to God having created the entire human race and every other living creature! Do the lightnings answer to any man? Can any man set the constellations in the sky?
Read Job 38 and 39 and compare yourself to God’s greatness, His power, His wisdom. God created us mortal, weak human beings, made from dirt (Genesis 2:7). He wants us to have an appropriate opinion of ourselves, and to realize how much we need Him. He wants us to learn how weak we are without Him, so that we will rely on Him. Man was created to need God. This is a particularly hard lesson to learn as a teen: to realize—deep down in your gut—that you need God, that you are nothing without Him.
But as we’ll see, with God we are far from being nothing!
Seek God’s Help
The way to get the right perspective on ourselves is to get to know God. Our perspective gets off when we get our mind off Him.
1. Did Job finally get the picture? Job 42:1-6. And once he realized this, how did God respond? Verses 10, 12.
2. How much do we actually need God? Is it really true that we can’t just reason out all the answers in life? Proverbs 3:5-8.
No one is smart enough to figure out all the answers. In fact, the biggest problems in this world are created by people who are too confident in their own opinions and ways of doing things. We all need to understand that no teen, no adult, can be a true success without God.
Let’s look at another biblical example of someone who really approached God with this understanding.
3. At the end of his life, Israel’s greatest king, David, passed the rulership of the nation on to his son Solomon. Did Solomon believe he could handle the responsibility? Or did he humbly turn to God for help? 1 Kings 3:5-9. What was the result of Solomon’s attitude? Verses 10-13.
Solomon’s prayer is a beautiful example of the kind of mind-set we should have every day with whatever our jobs may be. God wants us to maintain this attitude of reliance on Him for all our needs. He wants us to have daily contact with Him through prayer about those needs. That is how we get to know the great God—through personal contact! Having that contact really does help you maintain a humble perspective on yourself. Scripture shows that if we have this humility, God will bless us as He blessed Solomon!
4. Does God really want us to “bother Him” with the everyday issues and problems we face in life? 1 Peter 5:7.
The Blessings of Humility
1. We saw from 1 Peter 5:7 that God wants us to cast all our cares upon Him. But, according to that same passage, what must we do first? 1 Peter 5:6. Is this a command specifically to young people? Verse 5.
If we are humble before God, not only will He take care of all our needs, He will exalt us! If we draw upon Him for help, and have the humility to make Him a part of our decision-making, our life will begin to amount to something special.
2. Does becoming humble mean going around like a sad sack all the time? Or will God inject a new kind of confidence into you? Isaiah 57:15.
Having a proper opinion of yourself doesn’t mean having a low opinion of yourself. It doesn’t mean beating yourself up emotionally. It’s all about perspective and balance. This is how you can conquer even negative feelings about yourself and your life that are absorbing too many of your thoughts. That too is a kind of vanity that needs to be dealt with. God wants you to be balanced, happy—confident! He will fill you with that right kind of godly confidence—confidence that is grounded in the right perspective.
3. What other promises does God make to those who are humble before Him? Proverbs 22:4; James 4:10.
4. What does He promise to you if you have the right humility toward your parents? Ephesians 6:1-3.
Life will be much more smooth and successful if you can learn this lesson now. God doesn’t want us to have to experience what Job went through. Such examples are in the Bible so we can learn from them by reading them.
If you develop a humble attitude as a teenager, God will respond mightily in your life! If you can develop a close relationship with Him, you will have the right opinion of yourself. You will be confident, strong, energetic—yes! But you will also learn to receive the majority of your power from God. You will understand how you stack up, not only with God, but with the adults in your life. You will learn to be obedient and submissive to your parents and those over you. You will learn that you don’t know it all.
But with God dwelling in your life, you can develop wisdom beyond your years. You can get answers and understanding. You can use this temporary life for lasting achievements—to develop character that will lead to your incredible human potential: eternal life in God’s great Family. This is the way to real success—success in this life and the next!