When you hear or read the word righteous, what’s your first gut feeling?
Holier-than-thou? Hypocrite? Fake?
It’s amazing how this word has taken on a negative connotation for most of us, isn’t it? None of us wants our friends to think we are acting too righteous or anything.
It is true that being self-righteous is horrible, marked by a constant craving to be seen and to be right. It is my very worst self. But, the truly righteous desire to always think and do right, no matter who is watching. This is my very, very best self.
Being righteous means actions and thoughts that are just, straight, innocent, and sincere.
A righteous man is marked by integrity, his mind and hands busy in honorable and upright ways. We would all want our daughters to marry a truly righteous man, no?
Now take the word self-esteem. What’s your first instinct?
Confidence? Strength? Equality?
I really don’t care for the notion of self-esteem, or self-help, or self-anything, for that matter; they all seem rather self-serving. It seems we’ve vaulted the esteeming of our own selves and our children’s selves to the upper echelon of virtuous living!
However, I LOVE the simple word esteem and wish it were used more.
When I esteem another, I think of her enough that I put faith in her. Her words have weight. I trust her. I believe her heart, and so I listen carefully to her thoughts.
What happens when I put my faith in my own charms and abilities, and walk in my self-chosen way? Here’s a hint: Anxiety, conceit, narcissism, and depression.
What happens when I honor and praise myself? Eeeewww. No one likes that. It’s the ugly cousin of self-righteousness.
Esteem calls for giving honor and speaking genuine praise. It frees us to look around, admire, and ooh-and-ahh over the beauty, differences, wisdom and strengths of others.
Parents, do not worry so much about your child’s self-esteem, but take on the joyful task of esteeming your child. Take their hands and teach them how to think and do right, no matter who is watching.
Teach them how to be righteous and how to walk in righteousness.
“Write these commandments that I’ve given you on your hearts. Get them inside of you and then get them inside of your children. Talk about them whenever you are sitting at home, or walking in the street; talk about them from the time you get up in the morning until you fall into bed at night…” (Deuteronomy 6:6)
Peace to you as you look for ways to esteem others and think rightly today.