In church we learn to not lean on ourselves. We learn we can do nothing with our own power. That we must completely let go of control and let God. That everything that happens is from God and that we must be humble and let people do whatever they wish to us because it is God's will and doing.

I almost get the impression that all my OWN thoughts and actions are wrong.

That I must be a true servant to other peoples needs and that I can never say no to them, even if they are manipulative or crazy.

In addition, I leave service feeling bad to be ambitious and work hard.

How do I have self confidence, self esteem, think for myself, feel free, proud of my achievements and feel good about working hard, if I follow what is preached ?

What part of Christianity am I missing?

  • 3
    Do you mind if I ask what sort of congregation this is? Which flavour of Christianity? That context may be important to the question. Commented Mar 17, 2012 at 7:58
  • Calvary Chapel. Commented Mar 17, 2012 at 19:22
  • Secular psychologists had introduced the concept of 'self-esteem." Years later, seeing the destructive nature of their contribution and others misunderstanding of it, have withdrawn it.
    – Steve
    Commented Apr 23, 2015 at 13:52

8 Answers 8


God expects us to use our own minds:

Do not be like the horse or the mule, which have no understanding but must be controlled by bit and bridle or they will not come to you.

Psalm 32:9

And he expects us to achieve and be proud of our accomplishments, so that we don't burden others:

Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else, for each one should carry his own load.

Galatians 6:4-5

Jesus Himself told us to use the gifts we've been given:

In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.

Matthew 5:16

Don't let manipulative people control you, but rather:

Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.

Proverbs 4:23

So as I'm answering this I'm left with one important question for you: "Are you getting Biblical teaching at your church?

  • 1
    Thank you, that helps a lot. Yes I do think I am getting it but perhaps it is a perspective & interpretation issue of the non-denomination...I really don't know how to compare but each denomination seems to think their way is the only right one, so it is very confusing. Commented Mar 17, 2012 at 19:25
  • @GregMcNulty: Everyone thinks they are right and always have! I strongly recommend you read the Bible for yourself and get into a small group of trusted Christian friends who can help you process this. God bless! Commented Mar 17, 2012 at 19:32

This is a very good question and I want to address it from several different approaches.

First have to go a little deeper into the reason you believe that you are here on this earth.

The bible has many examples of why God put us here. At the for front among those is to prove us or test us.

Judges 2:22, That through them I may prove Israel, whether they will keep the way of the Lord to walk therein, as their fathers did keep it, or not.
23, Therefore the Lord left those nations, without driving them out hastily; neither delivered he them into the hand of Joshua.

So here we see an instance where the Lord comes strait out and says I am testing you to see if you will follow the commandments. This is important to note because for something to be a test you necessarily have need the option to be able to fail. Which means that we have agency or the ability to choose for ourselves what we will do in life.

Since we have agency that means that there is opposition because you can't have choice without opposition. This is important to note because you say that you are learning that you have to accept whatever someone does to you because its God's will. That is not necessarily the case. The Lord lets the rain fall on the just and unjust alike and He allows somethings to happen to good people because it needs to be that way if we are going to choose to follow Christ.

Jesus admonished the sinners that He healed to go and sin no more. Why would He do this if everything that was happening was being caused by God? He said this because not everything that was happening was being caused by God but by people exercising their agency to choose the devil instead of God and hence sinning. So we can see that while everything is allowed by God not everything is caused by Him, a very crucial difference.

That lets us address the part of your question where you say that we need to lean on the Lord and not our own power. This is true. Because we all live in a fallen state no matter how much we want to we will at one time or another exercise our agency to choose to follow the devil and sin. To return to the path we need to lean on Christ and His Atonement for us. The scriptures say that there is no other way to return to live with God.
So we are being tested yes, we need to make our own decisions to live up to that test but when we fail we need to rely on the Lord to make that up because we can't do that ourselves.

Here is a scripture to go with the importance of doing works ourselves and yet rely on the Lord at the same time:

James 2:14-21) 14: What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?

15: If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food,

16: and one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?

17: Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.

18: Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.

19: Thou believest that there is one God; thou does well: the devils also believe, and tremble.

20: But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?

21: Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?

Abraham did not know ahead of time that a substitute would be there to be offered instead of his son yet he proved himself worthy by relying on the Lord for that difficult trial and passed his test. Similarly we need to show our faith by our works which means that we need to get out and do service.

Feeling good about ones-self is paramount to the gospel and enshrined in the second commandment given by Christ:

Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. (emphasis mine)

You can't love yourself if you don't feel good about yourself so while we should not feel boastful we should feel good about what we have accomplished serving the Lord because it shows our faith and that we are striving to pass the test given to us.

So to sum up: In order to prove ourselves we need to have agency which requires that we think for ourselves and choose to freely follow God. We need to do hard work to show our faith and pass our test. And we should feel good about what we accomplish because it shows that faith (and anything that involves building faith is including the Lord), and shows we are doing our best. And its commanded by the Lord. In all of this we must remember that we will slip up from time to time and it is at those points when we must rely on Christ to make up for our sins.

  • 1
    allowed vs caused by God, great point. Thanks for the info, will read over again... Commented Mar 17, 2012 at 19:43

Ecclesiastes 3:13 states

That everyone may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all his toil--this is the gift of God.

Hence, I believe it Biblical to take pride in your work, as long as it doesn't become arrogance.

  • 2
    I love short answers.
    – user23
    Commented Mar 22, 2012 at 18:29

It's interesting how many 'christians' almost think that you can't be confident. That's not true and never will be. You should follow your heart, and not other people's advices, if you feel there is something wrong with their opinions. And this opinion is wrong. Of course, too much confidence, being arrogant, selfish, that's not good. But does it mean that confidence by itself is wrong?? Of course not. Is sex a bad thing, only because some people don't know how important and exceptional thing it is, or how to use it the good way? No.

And, mainly, you should know these verses from the Bible: (Ecclesiastes 5:18,19) 'Here is what I have seen to be good and fitting: to eat, to drink and enjoy oneself in all one's labor in which he toils under the sun during the few years of his life which God has given him; for this is his reward. And it is a good thing to receive wealth from God and the good health to enjoy it. *To enjoy your work* and accept your lot in life--this is indeed a gift from God. (Proverbs 13:4) 'Lazy people want much but get little, but those who work hard will prosper.'

It's unbelievably crazy how some christians always think that you should only prosper in terms of church and so, even that there is nothing written here like that. You should prosper in everything. You might be even a pop-artist star or pro-football player if you want, it's certainly not a bad thing. Of course, it would be probably a bad thing if you forgot about God, if you stopped being with God. But this applies for everything. That doesn't mean you can't have it. The most important thing is to be thankfull for everything you have and don't forget about God, but you should enjoy it by yourself. I believe that when God created man and woman, he gave you the ability to enjoy things, enjoy everything you want as long as it's not wrong. God gave you the ability to feel good about yourself, to feel confident. If there is somebody in the universe, who wants you to feel bad about yourself, unimportant, unloved, and that you can't do anything, and that you will never find any happines, and who wants you to doubt everything and being pessimistic about everything, do you really think this thinking is from God ?? It's not a tough question.

Sorry for a long answer. :) This is rather my opinion, it is just what I believe. To be honest, I would die for it.

You, as well as other people, may agree or disagree with that, that's ok. I don't have a patent for the best answer ever.


How do I have self confidence, self esteem, think for myself, feel free, proud of my achievements and feel good about working hard, if I follow what is preached ? What part of Christianity am I missing?

Romans 12:3 For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.

The solution to man's problems is not to feel good about himself or even bad, but to walk in truth.

John 8:31-32 Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.

I almost get the impression that all my OWN thoughts and actions are wrong. That I must be a true servant to other peoples needs and that I can never say no to them, even if they are manipulative or crazy.

Once you know truth, you can see through those who would manipulate or exploit you. Christian maturity is growing in Christ-likeness (wisdom, truth, and love).

Much of our own selfish thinking is wrong, but we should not replace it with the wrong thinking of others. We need rather to be more like Jesus,

Philippians 2:3-5 Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:


Nancy Pearcy obliquely addresses this issue in her book, Total Truth. There, we find that God wants us to impact all of culture, wherever we are. We are not to leave the world to secularists and keep religion as merely internal, and thus have no impact. Thus we have a Christian impact with all our minds and talents, seen in paintings, performing arts, television and movies, politics, government, business, scientific disciplines, education, leisure activities, and so on. There is no area to be free of a Christian's impact in the world. God wants this world to be transformed by the gospel in every way. His command still stands: "fill the earth and subdue it: have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth." And that means we are to engage the world cultures, not keep our teachings within the church. Adam and Eve's work began in a garden, but their work would have extended that garden on outward.

The teachings you are receiving have a unique church focus because within the church we learn, in a safe environment, how to serve with other people who are undergoing the same spiritual journey. Most "church-goers" see church as something they attend for an hour a week rather than as a way of participating in the community of light within the community of darkness. The leaders are showing you how to transform lives by laboring in the church, and find God's provision for every work. By all means learn from these teachers, but then carry your lessons outside as well by applying your thinking and abilities in whatever enterprise you engage in.

  • Another book you may want to consider is "I Quit!", which was written by a pastor's wife who was overwhelmed with church demands. The book was written after she left her husband's church (with his understanding) to learn what went wrong with her despite her "service" in the church, and how she got back on the right track. She has many insights that will help you.
    – Steve
    Commented Apr 23, 2015 at 14:42
  • Another book, "Celebration of Discipline," in its chapter on service, makes a point about people who manipulate you or walk all over you to take advantage of your serve-anyone mentality. They are not walking all over you if you are deliberately putting yourself in the position of wanting to serve them, but only when you are unwilling to serve and feel forced.
    – Steve
    Commented Apr 23, 2015 at 14:45

"Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest" Matthew 11:28

There is a simple satisfaction when we become co-workers with God, doing according to His will. This after all is the true meaning of life, angels in heaven delight to do God's work. The confidence we gain is that we have made peace with God, and are being accepted into the heavenly family through Jesus' merits.

"Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God" Matthew 5:9

The state of confidence in self is not the focus of the gospel message. Rather the Bible calls us to have confidence in God, through faith. Confidence that He can meet our need, that His grace is sufficient for us. Whenever we are made to feel our lack, instead of feeling frustrated, we should embrace it. It is only those who realize that they are poor in spirit who then sense their need for God.

"Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven" Matthew 5:3
"Blessed are those which do hunger and thirst for righteousness: for they shall be filled" Matthew 5:6

The Christian walk with God is not going to be a straight path. In our natural state, our nature is enmity against God. We do not walk always in the Spirit, but enough experience is given to us for us to realize that the grace of God can change us. Even if it is only for a short duration, we remember times when God's love has made us capable of loving others, capable of denial of self, and capable of humble obedient service. He gives us glimpses of what we can become if we continue to abide in Him, but He also gives us a fuller picture of our sins so that we can recognize them and overcome. Satan may wish to tempt you into thinking you are fine the way you are, but God wishes you to see the truth. A Christian that thinks for himself knows to trust in God and not his own desires.

Everything God asks of us is for our benefit, and we need to have faith in this fact during the good and hard days.

  • Hope this helped. If you feel that someone is taking advantage of you, coming to you as a viper instead of a lost sheep. Pray to God about how you should respond. In many cases it is okay to walk away, those people were not sent by God for you to help.
    – Beestocks
    Commented Apr 24, 2015 at 2:43
  • yeah it helps for some parts of the issue. You mentioned "those people were not sent by God for you to help" - there is no way for me to know who is who, God would specifically have to tell me. Commented Jun 5, 2015 at 20:25
  • Prayer is needed. I know it's hard to know what is God's will, but we must ask for spiritual discernment, we must try to grow. On the flip side, if the Spirit does not go with us when we try to help someone, our efforts are useless anyways. Hence, the importance of asking God.
    – Beestocks
    Commented Jun 16, 2015 at 2:40

I really don't know the full answer to this but I know that humbling yourself under Christ can be a great experience if you let it. Do you value being grateful for what you have. Studies show that people who do this are more happy. Imagine your biggest dreams placed before you. Anything in this world that you want. God is way more than anything you can dream. The idea is that there is something out there that is more than you can imagine. You can't even begin to understand how big this is. Its just the idea there is something out there that is bigger than you. Also people who have a problem with God usually don't have a personal relationship with him. If you get to know him the holy spirit will give you the ability to do this. You weren't meant to do this alone. I hope you understand what I'm saying.


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