What is a self image?
image is how you see yourself in relation to others. It may range from how you see
yourself physically to being more about the perception you have of yourself (personality,
interests and att
itudes), which could also be called self concept. It is very important as it
affects your self
esteem and confidence.
Self image includes:
What you think you look like
What kind of person you think you a
What you think
think of you.
How much you like yourself or you think others like you.
Why a conference on
Building a Biblical
A Biblical Self Image is
n’t based on
the subjectivity of our own perceptions or the
perceptions of oth
ers, but is
based on the
of God’s word. If a
person accepts that whatever God’s word says about him is true, then he
to suffer from low s
esteem and fall victim to its destructive characteristics.
e’s the rub:
of Christian students believe the Bible is the infallible word of God
of those students believe in absolute truth. An absolute truth being a
truth that is true for all people at all times.
who do not believe in absolute truth are:
36 % more likely to lie to a friend
48% more likely to cheat on an exam
200% more likely to steal
more likely to use illegal drugs
more likely to commit suicide
216% more likely to be rese
200% more likely to physically hurt someone
200% more likely to watch a pornographic film
more likely to be disappointed in life
more likely to lack purpose
more likely to be angry with life
(“The Churched Youth
Survey,” Dallas: Josh McDowell Ministry, 1994)
These statistics certainly indicate how students perceive God
, the Bible, and truth,
but they also indicate how students perceive themselves. It is obvious that when students
are left to determine their sel
worth free of any
absolute standard, they are
their “self” perceptions
will unavoidably fall short in
multiple categories of comparisons.
Even with a Biblical self
image, people are prone to
make value judgments a
their self worth based on social pressures and the communicated (verbal and non
perceptions of others.
Let’s take a look at
one of the most significant
social pressures of
The average American woman
wears a size 10 or larger (not a 2 or 3, like your
Twenty years ago, the average model weighed 8% less than the average woman;
today, models weigh
advertisements bombard us everyday in magazine
s, on billboards
on TV, a
in newspapers. One in eleven has a direct message about beauty...and
that's not even counting the indirect messages.
60% of high school girls with eating disorders or related symptoms do not believe
they need counseling.
percent of 1
old American girls diet.
Between 1996 and 1998, teenage cosmetic surgeries nearly doubled, from 13,699
(Source: American Society of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons
teenage boys have eating disorders, and as many as
are steroid users.
These pressures, along with cultural fluctuations on how to achieve personal
importance, what constitutes an attractive personality,
how can a person be sexually
fulfilled, etc., all take their toll. They can be especially dest
orces in the lives of
are desperately searching for self
As Christian parents, then, how do we help our students develop a Biblical self
image? And how do we reinforce the Bible’s message and create support structures for
The Big Question: What does the Bible say?
1 John 3:1 says, “Look at how great a love the Father has given us, that we should
be called God's children. And we are!” (HCSB)
This scripture is saying that the relationship God desires and desig
ned us for
loving relationship between a father and his children. Once we understand the depth of
His love and the security of His commitment to us, we begin to fully comprehend our
worth. We are God’s children!
One of the finest
love and commitment is found in Psalm 139.
Bruce Narramore, Ph. D., President of the Narramore Christian Foundation, says there
are four central ingredients in our self
___ ________ _____ _________
This is the basic attitude we hold abou
significance or value. We believe we are valuable and have a right to live.
If we are to be happy and go through life with a minimum of
problems, we need an assurance that we are loved and accepted and that we
nfidence, which implies a basic level of trust in our own
abilities and a sense of inner strength, is the quality that enables us to reach out
and try new tasks or tackle new challenges.
Closely tied to a feeling of confidence is our need
for a feeling of
security. Whereas confidence is more of an
matter ("I can do it!"),
security is more
("Others can be trusted" or "The world is safe.").
Security relates to our environment and our relationship to it. It reflects our
assurance that the world "out there" is sufficiently safe and ultimate harm will not
come upon us.
Let’s examine Psalm 139, looking for these key components.
A sense of worth
By using this exhaustive list, the Psalmist indicates
that God pl
a high value on his life
. The verses describe God’s intimate
knowledge of him and his passionate interest in him. David realizes that God
knows him (David) better than he knows himself. The thought of that is too
wonderful for David to comprehend.
It is incredibly validating (to a person’s self
worth) that the God of the universe would be so involved in his life.
Nothing quite communicates love like
David realizes that there is no escaping God’s presence. Ther
e is no place one
can hide. There is no condition which shields us from His
the darkness that cloaks our lives at times will keep His right hand from rescuing
us. That devotion, that care, that attentiveness are all just extensions
of His love.
God would not for a minute want us to think that we were not his prized
When the scripture says that God formed us and wove
us, it is communicating the great care with which God crafts an individual. W
David acknowledges God’s hand in his own formation, it causes him to burst out
with thankfulness. Some of the most powerful words in scripture are in verse 14
“I will praise You, because I have been remarkably and wonderfully made. Your
works are wo
nderful, and I know this very well.” (HCSB) When David says that
God’s works are wonderful and also says that he has been “wonderfully made,”
he is saying, “I am wonderful, because God made me. There are no limits to
If security is that feeling or sense of assurance that things
will be alright, what could be more reassuring than knowing your days and breath
are in God’s hands? From your beginning He has marked them. World events,
, emotional trials, none of these will default God’s
predetermined plan. I can live securely knowing that God’s hand and His hand
alone controls all things.
God has accounted for each of our human needs. Having a Biblical self
means we understand
ourselves according to God’s unalterable standard of acceptance.
His word is the best mirror we could ever use.
Bill Gillham is the President of Lifetime
Guarantee Ministries. Bill has put together a list of scriptures which reveal the true
a child of God.
What are some practical steps to building a B
in my child
ecognize your level of
“…the human child is ‘talked into talking’ and ‘loved into loving.’”
“…related into believing.”
en Robert, “Becoming Attached: Unfolding the
Mystery of the Infant
Mother Bond and its Impact on Later Life,” (New York: Warner
Book, 1994). Allan N. Shore, “Affect Dysregulation and Disorders of the Self,” (New
York: W.W. Norton & Co., 2003).
Out of 14
influences listed by teens as having ‘a lot’ of influence’ on how
they think and act, only one was listed by more than 50% of teens:
George Barna, “Third Millenium Teens: Research on the Minds,
Hearts, and Souls of America’s Teenagers, 1999
The Barna Research Group
78% of teens acknowledge that parents have a major impact on their
thoughts and deeds
George Barna, “Third Millenium Teens: Research on the
Minds, Hearts, and Souls of America’s Teenagers, 1999 The Barna Research Group
ms of faith, p
arents were named 3 times as often (47%) as the next
most prolific source of faith influence (16%
4 out of 5 said that their parents
were their greatest influencers
“We must produce in our homes and community
of the very biblical truth we want to see incorporated in our kids or they
will eventually reject that truth and walk away.”
Josh D. McDowell
Teach them what the
Use the scriptures on the “True Identity” handout, from Psalm 139, and
others you may find to affirm your child’s sense of worth
to let him
know he is loved
, and to give him a sense of confidence and security.
Children’s conceptions of God stem from day
experiences with their parents.
“The Birth of the
Living God: A Psychoanalytic Study,” (Chicago: University of Chicago Press,
1979). A. Vannesse/P. DeNeuter, “The Semantic Differential Parenting Scale,”
in “Parental Figures and the Representation of God.”
, and support by:
Telling your child that you love them
Spending time with your child
The average born
again church kid spends an average of only
a day in meaningful conversation with their father.
again church kid spends an average of only
a day in meaningful conversation with their mother.
Encouraging your child to make choices
Fostering independence in your children
Giving genuine importance to your child's
Taking the time to explain
Feeding your child with positive encouragement
Encouraging your child to try
new and challenging activities
Refraining from using guilt motivation
Refusing to impose
Listen to Dr. Narramore. “The failure to let children gradually mature is one of
the greatest causes of teenage rebellion in
Christian homes. Because we are God’s
representatives, we sometimes try to play God to our children.
set all the standards.
make all the decisions. And
let children know their place. Each of these parent
behaviors undermines a child’s identit
How do I discipline my child without destroying their self
11 says, “Furthermore, we had natural fathers discipline us, and we
respected them. Shouldn't we submit even more to the Father of spirits and live? For they
s for a short time based on what seemed good to them, but He does it for our
benefit, so that we can share His holiness. No discipline seems enjoyable at the time, but
painful. Later on, however, it yields the fruit of peace and righteousness to those who
have been trained by it.”
The author of Hebrews is comparing and contrasting the discipline of earthly
fathers and our heavenly Father. The earthly father disciplines according to what “seems
(That which will change our
disciplines us for our benefit,
that we may share in His holiness.
That which will change our
word translated “benefit or good” is a word which means “to bring together.”
’s discipline brings respect
, God’s dis
cipline brings us together with Him. I
may respect my father, but never be close to him. God does not allow for that option.
His discipline is intended to help us understand Him and participate in His Holiness.
Like all discipline, God’s version is not
“fun,” but it leads us to a right way of life.
When we discipline our children,
our ultimate goal should be
a changed heart.
At the same time, “w
e cannot allow children to ignore their sinful behavior. But
neither should we destroy their self
must maintain a healthy balance. A
proper teaching on sin should include the following five elements:
It should teach
of holy living.
It should show a child how we all
of these standards.
It should show a child how valuable he is to God and distinguish between one’s
and being a
(1 Corinthians 1:1
It should lead the child to
, the answer to his sin.
(John 3:16; 1:12)
encourage the child to be obedient out of the motivation of
(Ephesians 5:1, 2; 1 John 4:11
“Help! I’m a Parent,” Dr. Bruce Narramore, Zondervan Publishing, 1972, pgs. 126
a Biblical self
n your child is
the process of helping them
develop their sense of self based on God’s word. It is helping them to resist the
vacillating messages of culture and the opinions of others, and focus on the reality of
and the exciting purpose for which they were