Self-Esteem is for Losers

Pride goes before destruction,
and a haughty spirit before a fall.
It is better to be of a lowly spirit with the poor
than to divide the spoil with the proud. (Proverbs 16:18, ESV)

The Bible warns against pride numerous times, but I think a better word would be hubris.

The problem with the word pride is that it holds different meanings, all of which are used interchangeably.

a :  inordinate self-esteem :  conceit
b :  a reasonable or justifiable self-respect
c :  delight or elation arising from some act, possession, or relationship

The biblical injunctions against pride concern themselves with the first meaning; a belief that one is higher than one truly is.

Pride is the original sin and the sin from which all sins flow.

Lucifer, the morning star, thought himself above God and tried to ascend to His throne. His fatal sin was hubris.

Eve’s original sin was pride:

“You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it.

She wanted to become as God; she thought herself greater than she was. For that she was forever cursed.

All sin is man thinking his own reason and his own ways are superior to the reason and ways of God. But as God pointedly asked Job:

“Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?”

Man, in his pride, thinks himself wise, but his wisdom is foolishness. He elevates himself in his own mind above His creator and suffers for it.

In Proverbs humility is linked with fear of the Lord:

The fear of the Lord is instruction in wisdom,
and humility comes before honor. (Proverbs 15:33, ESV)

The reward for humility and fear of the Lord
is riches and honor and life. (Proverbs 22:4, ESV)

It is clear, humility is knowing your right place before God and before other man.

A humble man may still have pride of the second and third definitions: he may respect himself because he is made in God’s image which is reflected through him, imparting upon him value; he may take joy in doing acts of right, knowing these acts come from God’s providence.

The pride of a humble man and the pride of the hubristic man are as far as the east is from the west.

A man of hubris thinks himself higher than he is, a humble man knows himself for who he is.

A humble man has true confidence, for he knows who he is and accepts his lot. The hubristic man’s confidence is but a mirage.


Respect is something that is earned. It is primarily a masculine concept; where a man earns the respect of his warband (or a functional equivalent) by contributing to the warband. A man who is not worthy of respect, who does not contribute leads his warband to its death.

Respect is esteem given to you by others in recognition of your deeds.

A humble man’s contributions usually relate to or exceed how he thinks of himself, so he is oft respected in proportion to or exceeding his beliefs of his own station.A man of hubris is rarely respected according to his belief, as his empty thoughts of pride far exceed his contributions.

A man should strive to be both humble and respected.

Know your place, accept your place, contribute the best you can, and let other raise your esteem.

“When you are invited by someone to a wedding feast, do not sit down in a place of honor, lest someone more distinguished than you be invited by him, and he who invited you both will come and say to you, ‘Give your place to this person,’ and then you will begin with shame to take the lowest place. But when you are invited, go and sit in the lowest place, so that when your host comes he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at table with you. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 14:8-11, ESV)

This is the masculine form of respect.

Respect is very different when framed in a feminine mode of thinking. This mode of thinking is devoted to a close-knit family where everyone is valued because immediate survival is not on the line and division in the home can rend the clan’s survival as surely as a rival warband.

Man is to be respected not for what he contributes, but simply for existing.

Treat everyone with respect.

This, as with most feminine modes of social interaction, works well on the small scale, in a tight knit family group apart from the immediate demands of survival. When applied to the immediate kin group, it leads to harmonious family relations working together for survival and against foreign threats.

It does not work in an extended group or when the lion is skulking in the bush. When applied to a survival situation, respecting the incompetent leads to a swift death.

When the feminine mode is applied on a greater scale, respect becomes meaningless. If everyone is respected, then what good is respect? If you give the same esteem to the criminal as to the saint, how is your esteem of any value? If one is respected regardless, why should one contribute?

In greater society, respect must be of the masculine form; it has to be earned for it to be of any meaning or value, otherwise it is naught but dust.

Not everybody deserves respect.


We come now to self-esteem.

Self-esteem is always based within the feminine mode of respect. “Everyone should have good self-esteem“, regardless of their actual contributions or abilities.

One should esteem oneself regardless of whether one is worthy of said esteem.

To this end, the dullard is praised as highly for butchering the English language as the wordsmith is praised for his beautiful sonnet evoking ancient imagery.

Under the cruel tyranny of self-esteem, man’s hubris is raised far beyond any reasonable estimation of his proper place. His elders, those wolves in sheep’s clothing, lead him into the violent trap of the sin of pride.

To add to the cruelty, he is incapable of developing proper self-respect or respect from others. His hubris overtakes him, but he knows in his heart of hearts, that something is not right. He knows in his heart of hearts he does not actually measure up to his own hubris, for reality continually and brutally contradicts the words of those sweetly poisoned tongues. His true confidence is eaten away nibble by tiny nibble, while he invests ever more heavily in his false hubris to keep from emotionally drowning.

Eventually, he will fall and self-immolate.

But, to twist the knife ever deeper, despite his inflated opinion of himself and the false praise of his elders, he will never earn real, masculine respect. His words will always exceed his deeds for how could he learn to contribute when he is taught to value his failures as highly as his contributions?

He will never earn the true respect of others. Because his self-esteem to be based solely on honey-dipped falsehoods, rather than the confidence of real accomplishment, this will eat away at his emotional and spiritual core. He will need their praise and their false respect, for his self-esteem depends on it, yet he will never have true respect and genuine praise for he is incapable of earning it.

He will never know and accept his proper place; he will never have the true confidence of the humble man. He will always think himself better than he is and pine for the respect and rewards he believes himself entitled to, but because he is not as high as he thinks he is and he has not earned them they will forever elude him. This will cause bitterness, as he questions his whole self, never knowing why he is not in “his proper place”, yet never being able to truly find his proper place.

Thus we end, self-esteem is for losers.

It is a false confidence that robs one of true confidence and replaces it with a sinful mirage. It erodes your emotional and spiritual core and makes you dependent on others for your confidence.

Winners gain confidence by trying until they succeed. They put in the effort, improve themselves, and eventually, their pride comes from knowing they have earned their place and being confident because of it.

Losers have no success upon which to build their confidence. They do not know their place, or they know and shudder at their worthlessness, so they demand others’ praise to inflate their sinful hubris.


I say this to you:

If you have any love of a young one, fight his self-esteem, crush it ruthlessly. Praise his true successes, but never let your praise be inordinate. Do not praise his failures; when he fails encourage him to try harder, to practice more, to push himself beyond what he currently is, so he can truly succeed.

Build in him true confidence, so he can climb to the mountain-top, look down, and know his place.

Only those who hate their children develop their self-esteem.


Also know this, if someone demands your unearned respect or curses you for lowering their self-esteem, they are a loser. They are drowning themselves in the sin of pride and demanding you help them do so. They need your accolades to prop up their ego because they lack the true confidence that comes with success, with genuine contribution, with real respect.

By demanding unearned respect they are only showing they are not worthy of it.

10 responses to “Self-Esteem is for Losers

  • earl

    Good post.

    This is also one of my favorite Carlin bits.

  • Alan J. Perrick

    “So-and-so is a proud X.Y.Z….”

    Whoop-dee-doo. Want a cookie?

    Pride is a cardinal sin.


  • Frost

    Great post, I’ve had similar thoughts.

    I view pride/humility as two-dimensional: Humility before God, and pride/confidence among mankind. Ironically, humility before God leads to the greater interpersonal confidence among men and women. If you have a proper conception of your own place before God, how can you possibly feel nervous about approaching or escalating with a girl? Or taking any other kind of social risk?

    Just one more example of the utility of Christianity, as an heuristic if nothing else.


  • Jacob

    Great post Northerner. This is a topic that is never discussed in depth in the churches. Actually, I contend that there is too much false humility in the Church. My understanding of scripture is that we are redeemed vagabonds, lifted from the ashes and set as high priests and kings reigning under the Most High God. This should bring a level of self-respect! The Almighty King called me His Son, said I am like Jesus, and that I have His very Spirit living in me. That should be a source of self-respect in how we conduct ourselves! The problem is when we think this makes us “more worthy” than others, and we cast stones at them. Jesus gave us an inheritance, but tells us not to lord it over others- just to extend it to them as well.

    Browbeating about how we are such wretched sinners is pointless. Obviously people need to repent of sin and accept Jesus’ clean robes, but after that, you need to accept the role God has given you. People need to simply understand the parable of the just and the unjust steward. God gave us all a stewardship- with people, jobs, talents, careers, knowledge, and personality. It is up to us to use these things to promote godliness and the Kingdom. Everything else is just salad dressing. We are ambassadors, not filthy slaves dressed in rags anymore. Let’s act like it, and extend grace and patience and nobility like our king the Lion would.

  • Shenpen

    Hmm, I am not 100% sure what you are driving at here. I think it is simple. You get what you praise. Praise what you want to get.

    Therefore, always praise and thus encourage _effort_, even when you only see modest, lazy amounts of it, and always praise ability, make kids confident in their ability. But very rarely praise success, only when it is warranted. So usually it will be a “It’s really great you have tried, now try a bit harder, I know you can, you are not dumb or clumsy, you just have to put in more effort, you are not exhausted yet, right?”

    I don’t know whether it is considered self-esteem-boosting or not. But generally if you want to make people grow, convince them they can grow. Convince them they have don’t lack the innate knack, and convince them they have untapped stores of strength. But never tell them they have already grown so much that no more growing is needed.

    Is this what you meant?

  • Free Northerner

    @ Shenpen: It’s close. Essentially, praise what is praiseworthy and only to the proper extent. Do not overpraise and do not praise what is not worthy.

  • the Revision Division

    […] SELF-ESTEEM is for losers. […]

  • Anonymous

    Ample of male self-esteem and female-hating going on here. How about following your fucking rule instead of preaching about it? Or how about getting laid to get rid of your hatred for women (or seeking a psychologist to help you deal with it)?

    Jesus loved women, the excluded (Matthew), the sick and the poor as he wanted to establish an egalitarian community for everybody (“neither Jew nor gentile”; “for where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them” means God is the community of believers, the Holy Spirit).

    What you do, spread hatred and exclude the non-male, non-White, non-heterosexual is thus heretical. If hell existed you would burn in the hottest fires.

  • Anonymous

    “If you have any love of a young one, fight his self-esteem, crush it ruthlessly.”

    Let me guess, you do not have any children. Given that you preached about humility let me preach back: “if you have no idea about what you are talking shut the fuck up”. Theorizing is easy, actually bringing up a child is not.

    By the way, ruthlessly crushing a child’s self-esteem is child abuse and thus a crime. So seriously, shut the fuck up and never beget a child lest it gets abused.

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