7.11.2007

Poor Self-Image and Self-Adulation

Two of the fifteen sins on the list my accountability partner and I go through each week are Poor Self-Image and Self-Adulation.  Poor Self-Image (some people know it as "insecurity") means we temporarily trade our sense of self-worth derived from God's valuing of us for one derived from something else.  Self-Adulation (some people know it as "pride") is basically the same thing, but instead of beating ourselves up, we puff ourselves up.  The fact that the two sins are essentially one and the same explains how one can often have both insecurity and pride about the exact same subject. 

I have a confession to make, in this regard: I often experience both Poor Self-Image and Self-Adulation when it comes to understanding urban issues.  I am fortunate to get to study urban issues for a living.  And almost everywhere I turn, my understanding and experience is dwarfed by that of others: co-workers with far more letters next to their names and far more years under their belt, partners who know infinitely more about their area of expertise than I can even get my head around, and clients who live and bleed their issue far more than I ever have or will. 

I chose such a setting because I love it - I love learning, I love being challenged, I love figuring it out.  But I'd be lying to you if I said I didn't often wander into the land of Poor Self-Image.  The fact of the matter is that I am a flawed human being, trying in vain to feel good about myself by propping up my flimsy intellect when the Creator of the Universe wants me instead to dwell securely in the knowledge that He made me and He loves me.  I've lived in that security for fleeting moments, and it sure is secure.  But I sure don't live there that long or too often.

Even worse, I compound my sin by swinging to the other end of the pendulum, or more correctly, by trading my self-worth for something else in a similar but slightly different way.  Because I study urban issues for a living, it's easy for me to lord that over others who don't.  I would think it the height of arrogance not to mention idiocy if a doctor puffed himself up for knowing more medical stuff than me, or if a lawyer did the same because she knew more law than me.  And yet I do this almost daily.  Ah, Self-Adulation: I'm there a lot too.

Poor Self-Image and Self-Adulation: polar opposites, or two sides of the same coin?  Or just plain the same coin?  My vote's for the latter.  And my hope is that I flip that coin, and try instead that place where I can be better than some and worse than others without it being about me, but rather about a God who made all of us and who ultimately deserves all the puffing up.


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