We’ve all been exhorted to cultivate self-esteem and nurture a positive self-image. That sounds appealing. But we also know that God calls us to humility. And many well-intentioned Christians have it in the back of their minds that being humble means living their lives in a haze of discouragement, anxiety, and preoccupation with their own sinfulness. After all, the only alternative our culture seems to offer is a vacuous “I’m OK, you’re OK” relativism: the false peace that this world gives. We know that can’t be right.
So how can we attain the peace God wants for us if we’re mired in self-contempt? How can we spread Christian joy if we don’t have any ourselves?
In Self-Esteem Without Selfishness, Fr. Michel Esparza leads the way out of this conundrum. A lively sense of a Father who looks on us with delight and unconditional love, together with a fearless acceptance of our own wretchedness, is the key. Fr. Esparza teaches us how to cultivate that “humble self-esteem” which neither strays from the truth about the person nor fosters discouragement at our failures. Bringing together the best of classic spiritual wisdom and the insights of contemporary psychology, he distinguishes between self-esteem in the shallow, pop-psychology sense and the rightly ordered self-love that is anything but self-centered.