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Forever Linked: Strength, Self-Respect, and Humility

Updated on June 4, 2013
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Dr. Middlebrook is a self-publishing expert, author (pen name Beax Rivers), online course developer, and former university professor.

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Being a “Doormat” is Not the Same as Being a Humble, Christian Woman.

Glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's. (1 Corinthians 6:20)

God wants us to glorify Him in our body (which includes our mind), and in our spirit. But how can we embrace and to maintain our dedication to glorifying God in the physical world we live in? Glorifying God in our bodies, minds, and spirit is a physical, intellectual, and spiritual process, and I believe that it is something that, from time to time, requires that we take a "self-inventory." In this Hub, I'm doing just that; I am examining what is meant by “self-respect” and “humility” by taking a closer look at these words. After that, and using the definitions I found, I'm looking at how easy it is for people to become confused when they don't understand a Christian woman's commitment to having a humble nature, and her devotion to trying to live her life on purpose, for God.

It is not only all right, from time to time, to give to you a “self-respect check-up,” I'm also saying it can be personally rewarding to do so. With this in mind, what does it mean for a Christian woman to have self-respect, and to demonstrate humility? Can having self-respect ever be at odds with being humble? If a woman demonstrates meekness in her character, does that mean she is weak?

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What is Self-Respect?

There are several terms or phrases we use in every day conversation to convey the idea of self-respect. What are these terms, and what do they really mean?

The word "self-respect," as defined in the dictionary means "due respect for oneself, one's character, and one's conduct." The word “self-respecting” means, “having or characterized by self-respect.” The word “self-worth,” says the dictionary is the same thing as "self-esteem." And the same reference source says “self-esteem” is “a confidence and satisfaction in oneself.” The question of this Hub is whether or not it is possible in living our lives as Christian women, to have self-respect and self-esteem while still placing the needs of others above our own desires. This simply involves asking yourself some critical questions, to make sure you have a healthy regard for yourself as a human being, and as beloved and cherished daughter of a loving God.

Would a cherished daughter of a loving God ever allow herself to be a doormat—something meant for others to step on? Would she willingly be a person who lives her life only for the purpose of being tread upon, trampled, and crushed underfoot? Would it glorify God for her to do so?

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Being Humble vs. Being a Doormat

We know God wants us to prize humility. The Bible teaches us in the Old and the New Testament that humility is a virtue. There is even a whole section in the New Testament Bible called “The Beatitudes” that spells out in no uncertain terms what it means to be humble:

“Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.” (KJV, Matthew 5:5-9)

Looking at the above Scripture, it is easy to see how meekness can become confused with weakness. Yet, in truth, the humble Christian woman is not weak, at all. In fact, she is quite strong, possessing great courage as well as strength. But, she is a person who is not driven by ego, but by a desire to implement God’s plan for how she is to live and how she is to love and show love for others.

According to one dictionary definition, self-respect means having “a proper respect for oneself as a human being.” The same dictionary also says it means, “Having regard for one’s own standing or position.” Could a woman who has “proper” respect for herself ever allow anyone to relegate her to being something that resembles a “doormat,” a thing that was created to be walked on? Wouldn’t that be at odds with “having regard for one’s own standing or position as a human being?”

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Human Needs vs. Human Desires

We need air in order to be able to breathe, and hence, to go on living. But we might desire for that air, sometimes, to carry a fragrance of roses, or a slight hint of lilac or some other pleasant aroma. We might even want the air sometimes to envelope us in memories of home—wrapping us in the comforting smells of baking bread, percolating coffee, and sizzling bacon, soothingly reminding us of being young and feeling loved, and oh, so secure.

There’s no doubt about it, desires—and sometimes having them fulfilled, can be a wonderful thing. But how do we find the balance between what we truly need in life and what we desire or want? Isn’t it a constant challenge of ours, as Christian women, to find ways to re-channel our energies away from our own desires and wants and toward the needs of others?

There are many times in life when we must willingly place “self” at last place on the list of people or things that need our attention or our care. As Christian women, we know we must always place our desires second to the immediate felt needs of others, and we are to do this lovingly and eagerly. It is God’s desire that we do this, and we are honored to have a heart that can love and care for others. We understand that helping to meet the immediate and felt needs of others is always more important than having all our desires occupying first place in our lives at all times.

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We also know there are times our love for others means we must choose placing even our own needs, along with our desires, on the back burner. At the same time, we know there is never a time when God expects us to place love for yourself on a back burner. We know there will be times in our lives when we will need others to place our needs ahead of theirs, so we must be willing to do the same. The Golden Rule, therefore, helps us understand that loving yourself is never at odds with loving others “as yourself.”

We do unto others as we would have them do unto us (whether they would actually do the same toward us is not a consideration). Showing and demonstrating love by placing the needs of others in front of your own, in times of need, demonstrates, therefore, both love for yourself and for others. Loving others as yourself presupposes that you first must have love for yourself. Therefore, loving yourself is an antecedent condition, a prerequisite, to being able to love others.

A truly humble Christian woman loves herself fully and is keenly aware of all her strengths and qualities. She recognizes that all her gifts are God-given, and does not allow them to make her selfish, or to feel superior to those who might not have the same strengths. She is never arrogant or boastful, and she will not withhold help from those who are in need of her help. She knows she never has to fear relinquishing love for herself during times when she is placing the needs of others ahead of her own.

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Self-Respect and Living Life “On Purpose”

A Christian woman who has self-respect has proper respect for herself as a human being. She has “regard” for her own standing or position as a person, and is self-respecting in the love she demonstrates for herself in her daily life. Her self-esteem is enhanced, not diminished, as she lives her life on purpose, for God.

In fact, her self-esteem is an outgrowth of her self-respect, because without self-respect, she could have no genuine self-esteem. In the absence of self-respect, she might wear a facade to make others believe there is self-respect where none really exists. Unless or until there is true self-respect, there is no basis for true self-esteem. True self-esteem is internal, not external. Self-esteem is not concerned with what a woman wears outwardly on purpose, just for others to see. It is about the esteem she has for herself, inside herself.

A Christian woman demonstrates humility when she places the needs of others ahead of her own needs or desires. She demonstrates her understanding that her life is not always about what she wants; it’s not even always about what she needs. But it is always about serving a higher purpose—God’s purpose.

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Having self-respect should never be confused with being arrogant. Being arrogant is the opposite of being humble. Arrogance is founded upon internal weakness, and it is a personality flaw that overcompensates for weakness through an out-of-control sense of self-importance. It is a negative quality. Humility, on the other hand, is a positive quality. It is founded upon internal strength, not weakness, and it comes from choosing to place dedication to God above all other considerations.

Where true self-esteem exists, other people will see visible evidence of it. Why? Because it is like a light that shines on the inside of a woman so brightly, that every time she opens her eyes, a tiny ray of her light escapes. And if what she’s looking at is another person, they will catch a glimpse of that light because even though it comes out through her eyes, its glow doesn't allow shadows to linger on her face or upon her countenance.

True self-esteem, therefore, fills a Christian woman up with a strong and confident brand of illumination, an understanding that shines from the inside out. It is her understanding of God's love and how it must be demonstrated in the way she lives her life that empowers her. She is the owner of a blessed kind of wisdom that is not dimmed, but enhanced, when there is a need for her, out of love, to place the needs of others above her own.

Does having the humility and the wisdom that it takes to place the needs of others ahead of your own mean a Christian woman is a doormat? The answer to this question is, easily and simply, "No, it does not." A Christian woman is strong, as well as giving and kind, so you should never mistake her kindness for weakness.

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    • Patty Kenyon profile image

      Patty Kenyon 4 years ago from Ledyard, Connecticut

      Very Interesting Hub!!! I loved how you pointed out not to confuse kindness with weakness; I think too often many do consider a kind person weak!!

      Voted Up, Interesting, Useful, and Beautiful!!! Excellent Job!!

    • BlossomSB profile image

      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 4 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      A very good, well-thought out hub. There is a fine line between humility and weakness, but they are really quite different. A truly humble Christian person is not in the least bit weak and is to be greatly admired. That's how Jesus was, and He is our great example.

    • Ann1Az2 profile image

      Ann1Az2 4 years ago from Orange, Texas

      Wow, this was awesome, dr.! It's obvious you spent some time figuring all of this out. I'm glad you did because now, I don't have to! I agree totally with everything you said. Great hub and voted up!

      I'm keeping this as a bookmark so I can reference back to it.

    • drmiddlebrook profile image
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      Sallie B Middlebrook PhD 4 years ago from Texas, USA

      Hi Ann. Thanks so much for that! I'm still laughing. Yes, you are right. It did take a while to get all that together, but it was well worth it. I just know people often take my kindness for weakness, and I've seen it happen to other Christian women too. Thanks for the vote up!

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