daily Broadcast

How to Overcome Inferiority and Low Self-Image, Part 1

From the series Breaking Through Life's Biggest Barriers

Do you like who you are? When you look in the mirror do you like what you see? Or do you wish you were a little taller, or a little stronger, or a bit thinner? When you think about you, do you like yourself or do you struggle with feelings of inferiority? Chip shares three keys to developing a positive, healthy self-image.

This broadcast is currently not available online. It is available to purchase on our store.

overcome loneliness and isolation; overcome inferiority and low self-image album art

Helping you grow closer to God

Download the Chip Ingram App

Get The App

Message Transcript

Did you know that according to personal observation it is almost impossible for a human being to walk by a mirror and not look at themselves? Did you know that when you are giving a photo to someone and their picture is in it with a group of people, that the very first person that they look at is themselves?  Did you know they did a study of 5 and 6 year olds and they found that how a child views him or herself is a higher determinate of success than even their IQ?  Did you realize that how you view yourself is pivotal in the quality of your life and the quality of your relationships?  It’s what I call ‘Mirror Madness.’

We’re all involved in it every day.  We’re all asking and answering questions, sometimes it’s physically when we look in the mirror.  But more often it’s emotional and psychologically as we look into people’s eyes, and we have these thoughts, as we look into the mirrors of life.  And some of the questions we’re asking are:  Who am I?  Where do I belong?  Do I fit?  Am I ok?  Am I competent?  Am I a “somebody?”  Am I significant?  What are other people gonna to think of me?

So, let me ask you, when you look at the mirror, what do you think?  When you look into the mirror what do you see?  Do you see someone that is unique, beautiful, wonderful, full of potential?  Or do you look in the mirror and say, “Oh, I wish I was a little taller, a little shorter, a little thinner, a little stronger.”  When you walk around in your world, what are the messages that you say to yourself?  Do you look at other people and say, “Boy I’m glad they’re the way they are, but I’m glad who I am.”  Or do you kinda unconsciously say, “They all look happy.  They’ve got it together.  They have lots of friends.  I don’t think I’d fit in.  I don’t think I’m worth very much.  I hope no one asks me anything, because I’m sure I don’t have much to say.  If I really got to know them, I know they wouldn’t like me.”

Do any of those thoughts ever float through you mind?  They do for most of us.  See, the problem with the “Mirror Madness” is that there are more distorted mirrors out there than there are good mirrors.  And distorted mirrors will destroy our lives.  Because a distorted mirror doesn’t tell you the truth about who you are, a distorted mirror, it gives you a picture of what’s not true.

Have you ever gone down to the boardwalk and gone through, like, one of those fun houses or at a carnival, and they have the section where the weird mirrors with all the bends in ‘em.

And you stand in front of one mirror and you look like you’re about 1 foot tall and 9 feet wide and you all laugh and go ha ha ha?  And then you go to the next mirror and they do it differently, and you look like you’re about 3 inches.  That makes some of us feel pretty good, but you’re like 9 feet tall?  Those are real funny except, you know what the reality is?  The reality is for most of us all of our lives, through our culture, through the media, through multiple relationships and family, we have distorted mirrors that have been telling us stuff about us that is totally untrue.

Can you imagine living if the only mirror, what if there was never a real, true mirror and you walked around looking like you do, but you thought in your mind, “I am 1foot tall and I’m 9 feet wide.”  Now, the reality wouldn’t change, but if you thought that way about yourself, just imagine how you’d buy clothes.  Imagine certain places you would never go.  I mean, the beach would be out for you.  Let me give you three distorted mirrors.

The first is the appearance mirror.  We are shot through with it, especially in this country.  It says:  My value depends on how I look.  So, we find pretty people and we give ‘em millions of dollars, we give ‘em all kinds of make-up, wind machines, and multiple surgeries so they fit this ideal.  And then we all try and be like that person.  It’s how you look.

The second distorted mirror is the performance mirror.  My value depends on what I can do.  You gotta be good.  You gotta be successful.  You gotta be a great athlete.  You gotta be a great student.  You gotta be a great artist.  You gotta be a great this.  You gotta be a great that.  You gotta be able to do, do, do, do, do.  And so your whole life, your whole value revolves around your performance.  If you do well you’re great.  If you don’t do well you’re a loser.

The third, distorted mirror is the status mirror.  My value depends on what other people think of me.  And so we dress, talk, drive, buy, go to certain groups, don’t go to certain groups, eat certain things, don’t eat certain things.  Why?  Because it matters what everybody thinks.  Those three distorted mirrors are tools that will destine you, and destine me, to feel inferior.  Because the rules always change, don’t they?  It’s a no-win situation.  We’re talking about how to overcome inferiority and low self-esteem.

My thesis is, until we see ourselves as God sees us, we are destined, not maybe, we are destined to feel inferior.  Until you, and until I, can see in my mind’s eye - that can sink down into my emotions - how God looks at me, as the true mirror of who I really am - that my value doesn’t depend on how good I am, my value doesn’t depend on how I look, and my value doesn’t depend on what other people think… until you get free of those things, you are destined to feel inferior.

Now, before I go on, let me highlight something.  What I’ve said so far, most of you, you haven’t nodded because it would be embarrassing.  But in your hearts most of you have been going, “Yeah, man, that’s right, man, um-hmm, I don’t like me very much I mean real down deep.”  But there’s a small percentage of you, and you wouldn’t say this either because it would be more embarrassing, it’s sort of like, “I like me.  In fact, I wish most people were like me.  In fact, the world would be a lot better like me.”  And you look in the mirror and you say, “This is how people oughta look.”

And when you go to work everyone’s slower than you.  And you’re thinking, man, if they could just get with the ballgame.  And these kind of people often project ultimate confidence, like they’ve really got it together.  Can I tell you something?  Everyone feels inferior.  Inferiority just wears multiple masks.  Paul Tournier in a book that literally transformed my life, the book had one thesis and then the rest were stories.  He’s a Swiss psychologist of many years ago.  The book is out of print, but the book was called “The Strong and the Weak.”

The thesis of the book: Every person feels desperately inadequate and insecure.  And all of us, as human beings, will either express that with strong reactions or weak responses.  So, we’re all insecure, we all have this feeling that something’s wrong (that we’re inferior), and so some people will be shy, withdrawn, low self-esteem, I’m not worth much, no one wants to hear me, I probably wouldn’t do very well, I don’t wanna try because I’d probably fail, I know they won’t like me, to cover their insecurity.

But, there’s another group of people who’re just as desperately insecure, who say, man, I’ve got it together.  I’m gonna to be on top of this.  They’re powerful.  They’re aggressive.  Hey, get out of my way.  And you know what those strong things are doing?  Covering the same insecurity.  I know, I was that person growing up.  Arrogant, loud, pushy, because I was so afraid if anyone saw who I was really like inside, I knew they’d reject me.

Here’s what I wanna do today.  I wanna tell you that you do not have to be in bondage any longer to the distorted mirrors of our world.  But you can do three things, three keys God’s gonna to give us today.  Now, it’s gonna to be a lifetime of working it out, but you can get the data today.  There are three keys to getting what I call a healthy biblical identity or a healthy self concept.

The first one has to do with knowledge.  You must get God’s view of you.  You’ve gotta see yourself from God’s perspective.  It’s knowledge.  Remember what Jesus said?  You will know the truth and the truth will set you - free.  Good job.  If you don’t know the truth about you, you’ll believe lies.  But knowing the truth doesn’t change your life.  The second key is you must believe God’s view is true.  See you can know it, but think that’s like for everybody else, but not me.

And then third, you must discover the you that’s true.  You’ve gotta experience, you’ve gotta get involved in some risky, out of your comfort zone, relationships where you actually experience, through people, being deeply loved and deeply affirmed.  And we’re gonna talk about how to do that.  So now, by the way, what I’ve given you today you can do a Bible study for the next week or two.  I’m gonna just highlight, because what I want you to do is get the big picture.  I’m gonna give you five reasons why you are very significant, regardless of what the world may or may not say.

You’re significant first because you are unique.  Jot that down.  Genesis 1:27 says you’re made in the image of God.  Psalm 139:13 &14 says, “For you God created my inmost being.  You knit me together in my mother’s womb.  I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.  You’re works are wonderful.  I know that full well.”  You’re unique.  You are not one in a million.  You’re one in six billion.  Your DNA is different than any other person on the face of the earth.  God created you uniquely.  That makes you significant.  It’s  like an original piece of artwork.  You know, there’s an original piece and there are prints.  God doesn’t have any prints.  You’re an original.  So, you’re significant.

Second, you’re significant because you are loved.  Jeremiah 31:3 says, “The Lord appeared to us in the past saying, ‘I have loved you with an everlasting love.  I have drawn you with loving kindness.’”  Because of some things in my background, I have a hard time with that.  The performance trap is mine.  I feel loved when I do well.

And I feel not loved when I don’t do well--that’s a lie.  But for the last 15 – 20 years of being a believer I’ve been working at letting it soak into my mind, seep into my heart, and realize: God loves me unconditionally, not because of anything I ever have done or I ever will do - but because He is Creator, I am creation, and I am the object, I am the object of His love and compassion.  See, God doesn’t love somebody, somewhere out there.  He loves you.  He’s totally committed to you.  He knows your situation, your struggle, your hurts, your depression, your relational chaos, your dysfunctional background, and He looks at it all and He says, “I love you and I wanna be close to you.”

Third, you’re significant because you are valuable.  1 Corinthians 6:19 & 20 says, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have received from God?  You are not your own.  You have been bought at a price therefore; honor God with your body.”  See, we always evaluate things by what they cost, right?  Now, I would never wanna be a slave of any kind in any situation.  But if I were a slave and they were selling us, I’d like someone to walk up and say, I’ll give you $5 million for Ingram, because if I’m gonna to be a slave, I wanna be a valuable one.

I mean, I don’t want someone to walk up and say, I’ll give you $5.95 for him and I don’t think he could lift a thing.  You know, the fact of the matter is though?  We’re all slaves.  Before you trusted Christ, the Bible pictures you, and pictures me, as being in the slave market of sin, bound by desires and lusts that we can’t break out of.  And the Lord walked in, as He saw you on the block in the slave market of sin, and He says I’ll take this one, this one, this one, no, you know what?  I’ll take them all.  Price tag?

The death of My Son, the blood of Jesus paid on the cross as your substitute.  That’s how valuable you are to God.  And, you know, we get uptight, like, “Oh, God doesn’t care about me, and won’t even show me what’s gonna happen in the future, and what am I gonna do about this?  He that spared not His own Son, how will He not with Him freely give you all things.  Our problem is not that God doesn’t love us.  Our problem is we don’t believe He loves us.

Fourth, you are significant not only because you’re unique, loved, and valuable, you are secure.  Things that last have a lot of value.  Paper plates aren’t worth much in my home.  You eat off ‘em, they’re done.  It’s priceless heirlooms—they’re gonna last.  That’s what’s valuable.

You wanna know how long every believer in Jesus Christ is gonna last?  How secure?  Ephesians 1:13, it says, “And you also were included in Christ,”  speaking of believers, people who have come to Christ - well, when did this happen, “when you heard the Word of truth--the Gospel of your salvation.” 

Having believed at a point in time in our life, we need to come to where we believe in Christ, that He died in our place, and we receive Him as our Savior.  Having believed, notice this, you were marked in Him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit.  You’re secure.  The word picture here meant a lot to people when this was written because in Roman days they would put a seal on a document.  You know, the wax and then the emperor would put his ring on it.  No one could break that document except the power and the authority of the emperor.

God says when you trust in Jesus Christ and accept the free gift of salvation, you are sealed, but not with wax and not with a ring, but it’s with the authority of God Himself He seals you and marks you off by the Holy Spirit.  In fact, the Scripture says that the Holy Spirit is a down payment or literally, it’s earnest money to remind you of how valuable you are and that every promise God ever made to you in Scripture is gonna be true.

Now, we’re in a wild housing market right now, aren’t we in California?  I’ve heard of people putting their house on the market and they get two or three bids.  They’re getting more than they’re asking.  And as they do that, what do you ask people to do?  To put down earnest money.  You know, you put $50,000 down on a house, you’re pretty interested.  And you know what God has done?  He’s put down earnest money.  He’s placed the Holy Spirit in you, as a believer, as a deposit - to let you know He’s committed, and you’re secure.

Now, wait a second.  Do you really think this way about yourself?  Do you believe that you’re loved, that you’re secure, that you’re valuable, that you’re unique?  Let me give you one more.  According to God, when He looks at you, not the person next to you, we’re talking about you, you are indispensable--indispensable.  Ephesians 4, the apostle Paul is talking about the Church and how God put it together.  And the Church isn’t a building.  It’s just a place where anytime believers are gathered that’s the Church.

And he writes to them and he says, “Instead,” in contrast to what he just said, “speaking the truth in love we will in all things grow up into Him who is the head, that is Christ.  From Him, Christ the whole body, the Church, joined and held together by,” look at that word, “every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love as (some people do their part?  What’s it say?)   “…as each part does it’s work.”  You’re indispensable.

Ephesians 2:10 says that you are God’s workmanship created in Christ Jesus and that He has preordained good works for you to walk in.  God has a plan to love people, reach people, touch people in this church, this community, in the world, that you are the singular, only person to do it.  Have you ever thought of yourself that way?  Man, I’ll tell you what, you are important.  This is God’s view of you.  It’s not your appearance.  It’s not what you make.  It’s not what you drive.  It’s not how many muscles you have.  It’s not your figure.  It’s not your dress size.  It’s not what other people think of you.  By the way, all that can change (snaps), like that can’t it?  This doesn’t change.  You’re unique.  You are loved.  You are valuable.  You are secure.  And you’re indispensable.  I encourage you to take those passages and do a little Bible study and let it sink down through your mind into your heart.