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A pastor is someone who cares for the people. He performs an oversight function by overseeing the affairs of the local church. He is someone wounded and yet cares for the afflicted. He helps others while he himself needs help. He has no one to turn to for counsel or prayer apart from God who calls him. Therefore it is recommended that every pastor should have a pastor. See Help for those who help others a book by B. U Enyioha Ogbomosho: 2. The Elders indicate the seniority of the Pastor whereas the Bishop indicates the superintending nature of the pastoral ministry.

In sum the title Bishop denotes the function while the elders denote the dignity. Both the Elders and Bishops are referred to as Pastors and they are collectively referred to men who are individually overseers of the local churches. Pastor or Bishop is not a title but a calling into an office. The following are the qualities.

He should be conscious of having a divine call from God. He should be a man who keeps in close and constant communion with the spirit of God. He should live a consecrated life, a life of total separation from the world to the Lord. A man who always practices what he preaches. He is no respecter of persons. All meet his rebuke at appropriate time and correction and instruction.

A pastor should be uncompromising in the discharge of his pastoral duty. He should not change his message in other to suit the whims and caprices of his listener. He is a man of the spirit spending much time with the Lord in studying the word and meditation and prayer.

He should be caring, compassionate and sensitive to the need of the oppressed. He should be faithful, fearless and fierce. A pastor should have an unusual personalities and unique gifts or charisma. He must rule his own house well having in subjection all his children and people living with him.

A pastor who cannot take care of his household how can he take care of the church of God. He must not be a recent convert but must be matured on the things of the spirit and be able to handle the church maturely He must be free from the love of money, a pastor must be contented. Heb says: Let your conduct be free from the Love of money He must be above reproach When the bible says the Pastor must be above reproach it does not mean that the pastor should be flawless or faultless. What it means is that the pastor must be free from public accusation. He must be a man or woman of unquestionable integrity and impeccable character.

There are three spheres of pastoral integrity that needs to be investigated and these are: 1. Pastor must be blameless in their marriage and family life: A pastor must be husband of one wife which means a polygamous person or a divorcee can not hold that office; His children must believe and should not be opened to the charge of being wild and disobedient. Being wild in the sense of being incorrigible, disrespectable and disobedient. Pastor must be blameless in character and conduct. Paul employed eleven terms, five negative and six positive, all of which are single words in Greek The leading thought, which applies to them all and which occurs twice in Titus are that the pastor must be self controlled and disciplined.

So, candidates for the pastorate must give visible evidence in their behavior that the Holy Spirit has regenerated them. That their fallen passions are under control, and that the nine fold fruit of the Spirit have at least begun to appear and to ripen in their lives. Paul listed five negative habits, which are pride, uncontrollable temper, covetousness, and power. Pastors must be blameless in their doctrinal orthodoxy 4. Pastor must preach and teach sound messages and live by it. They should be a living epistle that all men can read. The only way to recognize them is through the fruit they exhibit.

They are very intelligent; they know the scriptures and trust it to gain success. They have the charisma to manipulate people for their selfish goals. They are corrupt, immoral and polluted individual who are unable to control their fleshy desire. They are motivated by evil spirit to tell lies behind the pulpit 9. These signs are stated below. One must be thoroughly born again 2.

One must have strong desire to grow 3. Before God calls a person, he or she must have a definite born again experience. He must be assured of his salvation in Christ. Secondly, one must desire to grow in the grace of the Lord Jesus. This means one must maintain a walking relationship with the Lord. There are pastors today who are born again quite all right but who finds it difficult to walk with the Lord Jesus Christ. They engage themselves in trivial activities within the church. They have become victim of Satan oppression. Thirdly, one must be totally committed to the cause of Christ.

I have counseled many people who thought God is calling them to ministry to be faithful to God in whatever things they are doing presently and excel in them.

Critical Concerns for Pastoral Ministry (1 Timothy ) |

One has to be sure of the calling of God upon their lives. Today, we find retirees who have retired from government service to take pastoral ministry job. What is your motive in coming to the ministry? Is your motive right? Do you base your calling on material gain? If you based your call on material benefit you will not be fulfilled in the ministry. Let us examine different ways by which people are motivated into the pastoral ministry today. I want to say here that only God knows those He has called into His ministry. He knows those that are really serving him.

But by human standard we can only know those called by the fruits they bear. The fruit one bears show whether one is really called or not. The following are the reasons 1. Personal interest 2. Economy of the nation 3. False-call 4. The Genuine Call of God. Some love the way the pastors do appear on the pulpit, some love the title or the prestige that is attached to pastoral office. Because of this personal interest they say, God has called them. Some even like the way the pastors are addressed and the amenities that go with the office.

Those who are called based on personal interest are disappointed when they discovered that pastoral work is not all bed of roses. When their expectations are not met they compromised their faith in Christ, deny God and fall into diverse temptations. The ministry of a pastor is an enduring ministry and if you are called to it, be faithful to Him who has called you. The unemployment rate is high and some think if they start a church they will make it. They learn the rudiment of preaching forgetting that preaching does not make anyone a pastor. When they float a church they just discover that establishing a church does not make one rich rather it takes many things out of one.

So, beware not to go into pastoral ministry because of the economic situation or because of what you will gain from it. Beware of the love of money, for it a root of all kinds of evil. He said he saw An inscription G. When he shared this vision with me, I said what the Lord is telling you to do, is to go and plough not to preach. You have just finished secondary school and you still have a long way to go.

If God calls you He will be definite about it and he will confirm it in various ways. Today, some people called themselves into this work and misled a lot of people. Some are not matured in mind and in spirit before they go into pastoral ministry; some are caught in the web of adultery and fornication, because they cannot cope with the pressure of women.

Before the call matures, He must have taken you through the wilderness experience. He must have authenticated your ministry. He must have equipped you and make you strong to face the challenges of the ministry. He must have proved you and allow you to face series of tests and trials of life. He must have toughened you and on the long run prepares, proves and presents you to the world.

A pastor called by God should decide to persevere against all obstacles. Paul admonishing Timothy told him to endure suffering as a good soldier of Christ. There are so many ministries today that are no longer what they used to be, why? The moment instability sets in the church or ministry will cease.

I believe God wants us to grow and continue to increase in our ministry until the Day of the Lord Jesus. This is the reason for the heavy load. We give students this heavy homework load so that they may not endure the heavier load of judgment which comes by mishandling the Word of God James This class will examine the various stages of life Believers experience, and seeks to prepare pastors to minister during these seasons of joys and hardships. Whether spending time in prayer, worship, the Word, or using Spiritual Gifts, this is the foundation of the strength of the school, and its importance cannot be overstated.

Walking closely with Jesus is vital to successful life, to say nothing of a successful pastor. This class is an introduction to both the Hebrew language and the culture of the Jewish people. By studying these two areas, the student receives needed insight into understanding these precious people better — especially in understanding their way of life and presuppositions concerning their opposition to Jesus Christ being identified as their Messiah.

This class focuses on foundational principles for fruitful ministry, in addition to accountability with Christian service. These three books have a wealth of instruction, exhortation, and encouragement for the man called to shepherd. The student will read the book entitled Be Faithful by Warren Wiersbe and turn in two papers commenting on various observations from the texts. Important topics will be selected from systematic theology for special examination.

An apologetic will be established for certain doctrines. The objective is for the student to work through theological issues and arrive at conclusions based on careful examination of the Scriptures. School Catalog. Apologetics I, II open to audit These classes will give instruction to the student on how to defend the Christian Faith.

Bible Study Tools Focus on learning how to use study tools will be emphasized. Church Administration I, II Over the course of two semesters, the student will take a look at the biblical role of leadership in the church along with a very practical look at the various facets of church administration. Expository Preaching I, II The student will teach from various sections of the Bible, and then receive constructive criticism from the teacher, students, and himself by video.

Greek Workshop Greek Workshop is a class designed to give further explanation and study of Koine Greek. Hermeneutics open for audit A thorough study and examination of principles needed to rightly divide the Word of Truth 2 Tim. History of Redemption open for audit This class will overview the grand story of redemption as seen through the entire panoply of Scripture. To comfort a person is to help him to persevere, to be patient, to keep on living, even when his feelings suggest all has come to nothing.

Comforting a person means coming alongside him and encouraging him to keep walking; drawing near him in his suffering and acknowledging it together —not so that he will wallow in it, but, having faced it, will get back up and begin to move on. This is a demanding task for you as a pastor: sharing in the sufferings of different members of your congregation will not leave you untouched. You will taste their sorrow, allowing it to enter into your own heart.

It is the only way you can draw near to them. Often, in fact, it is all you can do. Being a comfort means becoming like the friends of Job who sat with him in his mourning and stayed there Job You keep coming back, you keep listening, you stick around quietly knowing that words will not do. You stay near in the name of Jesus. We tend to do this too often and thoughtlessly, making superficial statements and presenting general truths that discredit both our counselee and God.

Rather than trying to explain suffering that cannot be explained, we should call out to God together from the depth of this suffering. In addition to giving comfort, pastoral care often also involves healing. Many church members carry external or internal wounds and as a pastor you have the privilege of drawing near to them on behalf of Jesus the healer and offering healing. He did this in three ways: he proclaimed the gospel, healed the sick and delivered those in bondage.

The twelve disciples were not the only ones either — another group of 72 followers of Jesus received the same commission and the same authority. They even cast out demons Luke In the Book of Acts, too, we see the apostles and Paul performing many miraculous healings. Healing must have its rightful place in the church of Christ and therefore also in pastoral care. The New Testament speaks of the gift of healing in the church of Christ 1 Corinthians Evidently, some believers are given special grace to pray for the sick, to lay hands on them and to witness God healing the sick. But the ministry of healing is an assignment for the whole church.

This is why James offers instructions on dealing with the sick that do not just apply to those who have the gift of healing, but to the entire body of believers. At the end of his epistle, James clearly outlines how we are to deal with the sick in the church of Christ. Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. First, we notice the use of oil to anoint the sick.

In both the Old and the New Testaments the anointing a person with oil symbolises a Consecration of that person to God. James emphasises another aspect of prayer for healing by connecting sickness with sin. With healing comes forgiveness, too, he tells us. There are many instances in the Bible in which sickness comes as a consequence of sin. In 1 Corinthians a large number of church members are said to be ill, some even fatally, as a result of celebrating communion in an unworthy manner.

When a person comes to God, he experiences not just physical healing, but complete restoration from brokenness and sin. The divine healer does not deliver half measures! However, we cannot state that every disease is the result of a sin committed by the patient. If that were the case, we would all be permanently ill. When his friends suggest otherwise, he has the courage to say he is innocent, calling on God as his witness. James does not say that sickness is always directly related to sin. He seems to be referring here to specific sins from the past whose consequences are still felt.


These consequences, James says, will disappear after prayer and anointing. Does this mean that every sick person prayed over and anointed by the elders of the church will immediately be healed? In many cases that is what will happen, sometimes immediately, sometimes after a longer time — but always as a recognisable answer to prayer. However, we know that not every sick person receiving prayer and anointing is healed.

The Bibles gives us numerous examples of this, such as Paul, who suffered from a thorn in his flesh 2 Corinthians Take this cup from me. This prayer reveals a deep intimacy with the heavenly Father. No problem is too great for God, no sickness is too severe, no suffering is heavy that He cannot lift it. Let it end, make the pain, the sorrow and the suffering go away.

Pastoral Ministry

It is a cry from the depths of the heart! Even in the deepest suffering, we may entrust ourselves completely to God who loves us and is with us. This prayer Jesus uttered in His fear and despair teaches us how we may pray with the sick and the suffering. In addition to comfort and prayer for healing, pastoral care involves a third element: deliverance from demons. During His time on earth, Jesus delivered many people from the power of demons who had taken possession of their lives.

Many of these demon-possessed people were ill. This does not mean that every sick person is possessed by demons, but some physical and mental symptoms may point in that direction. Well-known symptoms that may suggest demon possession include compulsive or obsessive thought patterns, distorted facial expressions or changes of voice.

These symptoms often go hand in hand with an intense hatred of Jesus, the Bible and prayer. Hatred of Christians in general can also be a sign of possession. Again, let me stress that not every person showing these kinds of behaviour is possessed — but such behaviour can be a sign we must take seriously. The New Testament points out three areas in which demons can be active. They can manifest themselves in the areas of impurity Luke , occultism Acts and false teachings about God and the faith 1 Timothy Sins in these areas make people vulnerable and expose them to demonic influence.

Experience also shows us that curses and ancestral sins can also play a major role in causing bondage. Jesus clearly taught his disciples that demons can only be cast out through concentrated prayer for deliverance. This prayer, in the Bible, is always very simple. It is important to realise that this battle of prayer against the devil and his demons always impacts the person praying, too. This is why it is highly advisable to avoid praying for deliverance on your own, but rather to operate as a team — preferably a team that includes both men and women.

That way you can complement each other. The men can pray with a man, the women with a woman. It is also important to properly prepare the person you will be praying with. He or she must know what is going to happen. Both the person being prayed for and the persons praying will know whether the demon has departed after the prayer or not. They will experience an inner lightness and space, along with an absolute assurance that the evil spirit is gone. By no means does this always occur after a single prayer; in some cases, it takes many years of prayer.

Why some people are delivered in one go and others only after a long and intense struggle, we do not know. What we do know is that we may always place our complete trust in God. In addition to offering comfort, healing and deliverance, pastors have another task. This ministry of reconciliation is performed through preaching, when the message of reconciliation and forgiveness is proclaimed, but also through pastoral care, when we share it with people on a personal basis.

In the context of pastoral care, reconciliation, first and foremost, takes place between God and the person to which you are ministering as a pastor. It is a restoration of a broken relationship. Every human being suffers from a breach in his or her relationship with God as a result of sin. Reconciliation with God, therefore, involves the confession of guilt and the receiving of forgiveness: your sins are forgiven you.

This means there must be room for you as a pastor to ask people about their walk with God. Which place does God have in their lives, does he have the first place, do we love him above all and everyone else? These questions are a vital part of caring for one another. If as a pastor you desire to take God and your church members seriously, you will bring up the topic of their relationship with God. While the ministry of reconciliation deals with reconciling people to God, it also deals with reconciliation between people.

The church of Christ, like any other place in which people live together, can be the scene of quarrels and discord. The unity Jesus prayed for so passionately in John 17 is sometimes hard to find. Most quarrels involve two or several individuals, but in some cases entire churches can get entangled with each other, along with their pastors. These situations go against everything Jesus taught us and they are a terrible testimony to the world around us. Unity should be the number one characteristic of the church of Christ. Jesus says so in John 13, John 15, John 17 and many other passages.

The commandment to love one another is the fulfilment of all other commandments Romans , God holds it against his children and the church when we fail to live by this love. In other words, there is no point in praying to God if you are in the middle of a fight with your brother or sister, because God will not listen to you until you have made up. And if things go wrong again, you have to go back and fix them again.

Getting reconciled with a brother or sister requires the same step as reconciliation with God: you need to return to your brother or sister. This is the most difficult in situations in which you are convinced you are right and he or she is wrong. But then, too, you are called to return to that person and to ask him or her to forgive you, recognising that things are not right between you.

Unity is more important than establishing who is right! What really helps in all of this is to remind ourselves and one another of what Jesus went through to reconcile us with God. He let go of his glory and majesty and became human like us in order to bring us back to God. He took all our guilt upon himself to save us. As a pastor, you have the privilege of being the first to put the ministry of reconciliation into practice.

It is unacceptable for pastors and churches to be at odds with each other, to malign each other or to openly in engage in quarrels or disputes. A church or pastor that does, loses all credibility in proclaiming reconciliation, forgiveness and grace. Jesus speaks about this in the parable of the man who owed the king a large debt and then had his debt cancelled by the king.

The very same day, the man ran into someone who owed him a small amount of money and had him thrown into jail for failing to pay. When the king heard about this, he was furious and the man was punished severely. This is what will happen to pastors and churches who themselves are reconciled by God but then fail to practice the ministry of reconciliation in their dealings with others. As a pastor, you have to set the example in this, helping others to follow. Whenever we offer comfort, healing, deliverance and reconciliation, we do not just empathise with people in their sorrow, need or guilt, but we may also show them how to move forward.

Sorrow is not easily overcome, sickness does not always pass, deliverance from bondage does not always free a person of every fear or anxiety and full reconciliation often involves a long and difficult path. Your job as a pastor is to offer hope to people in the very midst of all these situations. Often they will have lost all hope and they will have given up believing anything will ever change.

Your job is to come alongside these people, not to join them in feeling low, but to show them that there is hope, even in their circumstances. Through his own sufferings, Paul discovered that what matters is that we persevere, that is, that we keep going even under intense pressure. To better understand perseverance, think, for instance, of the pillars that uphold a heavy bridge.

Perseverance is not just sitting around waiting for things to pass by, but rather it is eagerly longing to find out what God wants you to discover through your suffering. Remember that His promise to everyone who believes is that all things — including your difficult situation — will work together for good Romans That is the kind of character Paul is talking about in Romans 5. Character, here, means you have been tested, you are experienced and because of your experience you have become better at coping with the trials and tribulations that come your way.

This discovery gives you renewed hope and perspective. You can face your sufferings, you find courage to look beyond your present difficulties. Ultimately, hope does not mean you believe everything is going to be fine; rather, it means you are certain that God is with you, that he will not let go of you and that he will carry you. He gives each of us the strength we need to carry our cross. Hope is also an awareness that suffering will not have the final say in our lives, but that Jesus will. It is important that you teach people to hope, that you teach them that God is there and that their suffering is not a bottomless pit, because their lives are in His hands.

You will find that some people will recognise this, while others will not. Some will find an anchor in their troubles, others will seem to drown in them. This does not happen by chance; ultimately, it is a choice. As a pastor you have the privilege and the possibility to teach people that their response after the initial shock of sorrow, sickness or disappointment depends on the choices they make. In almost any situation we encounter as human beings, we have two options: we can get carried away by our sufferings, or we can deliberately and hopefully endure them.

In order to choose the latter, your church members need to be instructed and encouraged. The two most important tools for remaining hopeful and even growing stronger in suffering are prayer and forgiveness. Prayer keeps us connected to God, even when we do not understand him, or when we disagree with how he is leading our lives. Think of Job who in his deepest despair kept calling out to God. Or think of Jesus who in Gethsemane returned no less than three times to beg his Father for deliverance and at the same time to surrender to his will.

In addition to prayer, forgiveness is also crucial if we want to avoid drowning in the sufferings caused us by other people.


Forgiveness will not protect us from physical harm, but it will protect our soul as it will lift us out of the reach of anger and resentment, preventing those enemies from entering our being. Forgiveness makes us stronger than the evil directed at us. These decisions enable a person to persevere and to keep the flame of hope burning.

They enable us to emerge from suffering stronger than we were before and because of them we need not suffer in vain. In many churches the pastor, or spiritual leader, is the main person providing pastoral care. He is either approached by church members seeking counsel or goes out himself to visit, talk and pray with members of the congregation. In my experience, many church members will not feel they or their problems have been taken seriously until the pastor of the church has come to visit.

Others may come, such as elders, deacons or fellow church members, but ultimately the person they want to see is the pastor. It was the same in the early church.

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The Hellenistic believers felt they were being overlooked and brought their complaint to the apostles. These gathered all the believers together, explaining that their main task as apostles was not to provide pastoral care and practical support, but to pray and to preach. They suggested the church choose seven deacons to serve the church during the communal meals and in other areas Acts Interestingly, this proposal was perfectly in line with the advice Jethro gave Moses long before Exodus , The gist of it was that providing pastoral care should be made the responsibility of a wider group of people in the church and not be left exclusively to the apostles.

So we see that in the church of Christ there are different ministries that are involved in caring for its members. In the early days, the apostles and deacons took the lead. The church of Christ is a pastoral community! Looking after each other involves inspiration, encouragement, comfort. These, too, are the responsibility of every believer. This means specifically that when someone is suffering, the rest of us in the church suffer with him, or when someone has reason to rejoice, the rest of rejoice with him 1 Corinthians In this way, the body of Christ forms a pastoral community in which not only the pastor offers counsel, admonition or comfort, but in which every member plays his or her part.

The unity Jesus so often speaks about finds expression primarily in our care for one another in good times and bad times. It manifests itself on our conversations and the attention we give each other as well as the practical support we extend to one another. Looking after each other does not just mean talking and praying together, it also, emphatically, means sharing. So if one of us is lacking in something, including finances, the church lends a hand.

Many of the problems with which people will come to you can be clustered in certain categories. In this chapter on personal problems, we will focus mainly on problems that come from within and that are tied up with psychological issues, such as depression and anxiety, self-esteem, loneliness, addiction and spiritual problems. Many people suffer from negative thoughts and feelings for longer or shorter periods.

These dark periods are sometimes related to disappointment in oneself or in others, causing a person to get stuck in a downward spiral. The majority of people manage to get these thoughts or feelings under control, get back on their feet and start again with a positive attitude. But there is also a large group of people who fail in this; they sink deeper and deeper into negativity, until they can no longer get back out on their own strength. They are experiencing a depression and they need good support.

You can recognise a depressed person primarily by his gloomy feelings; to the victim of depression, it is as if everything is covered by a blanket of grey. Depressed people are negative about themselves, they are ashamed of themselves. Their minds are constant flurry of negative thoughts. They are often too tired to get out of bed and nothing — not even their loved ones — interests them anymore.

Sometimes, a depression can have a physical cause, for instance in the case of post-natal depression. Sometimes it is the result of many years of repressed emotions, such as anger or sorrow, or of some crushing experience through which a person has lost him or herself. Depression is also often related to a psychological vulnerability passed on from parents to children, sometimes for many generations.

Many people, especially Christians, feel guilty about having a depression. If you have become negative about yourself and your surroundings, it can be almost impossible to relate to God and faith positively. It is important that as a pastor you point out to people that being depressed is not necessarily a sin — it is a form of sickness that cannot always be helped.

In fact, depression is a serious illness that paralyses your mind and your heart. Why so disturbed within me? This is why it is so important that in counselling a depressed person, you do not issue all kinds of orders and push them to have more faith in God and to try harder to believe.

Even more importantly, you must avoid deliberate or unconscious accusations regarding weak faith or a lack of trust. Your depressed brother or sister simply cannot cope for the moment. Neither should you tell a person with a broken spirit to trust harder. What you can tell him is that God will not let go and that even if he feels as though God has abandoned him, He is there and loves them deeply.

Keep repeating this time and time again. If he cannot believe, the fellowship must do it for him. If she can no longer pray, you and other believers can pray for her. Stand in for the depressed person and bring him to God, like the four friends did with the paralysed man in Mark 2. Also, it is important to help him or her take small steps towards becoming active again.

Gently encourage him to look after himself, to get out of bed, to get outside. Help him, step by step, to start living again. In this way you will show him there is hope, there is a life for him to pursue. One of the root causes of depression and other psychological disorders is fear. People go through a lot of things that can make them afraid and it is important that as pastors we teach them how to cope with fear and what the Bible says about it. Fear has to do with losing control. In itself, fear is a healthy response to danger, but if it starts dominating your life it has become a psychological problem.

Fear, then, is related to a conscious or unconscious feeling of being under threat. It occurs a lot in countries plagued by war, persecution and danger. The constant tension of not knowing where the next threat will come from, that feeling of having to look over your shoulder all the time can cause a person to live in permanent fear. And this has a huge spiritual and physical impact; it paralyses and exhausts you. In practice, there are three ways to respond to fear: flee, fight or freeze.

Which of these a person chooses depends on character, choices made before and mental strength. Fear has to do with worry. A person can be overwhelmed by the cares, uncertainties and feeling of being out of control. Jesus addresses this issue in Matthew when talking about fears regarding the future. Will we have enough food, clothing, will our needs be met?

Jesus shows us how best to cope with worries that can seem to consume us. As a pastor, you can pass on this lesson to fearful people you encounter. The words He uses here mean: do not let worrying take over. It is not wrong to have concerns, to think about situations, to be apprehensive or even afraid of certain things. But Jesus says: do not let these feelings take over. Do not let your worries grow so big that there is room for nothing else in your mind.

It is a fact that life is full of uncertainties, we never know what tomorrow will bring, but that does not mean we must be afraid. Jesus stresses that we do not have to give in to worries or fear, because the Father will take care of us. Just as He takes care of the birds of the air and the flowers of the field. So the answer to fearing the uncertainties of life is to keep remembering that our heavenly Father knows what we need right where we are, and that He will provide.

The Bible frequently points out that God deals with all people equally and without favouritism. To Him each one of us is so precious that He gave His only Son for us, so that we might be saved.

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If you consider this, there can be no grounds for people to compare themselves with others. Yet it happens all the time. All too often our self-esteem is directly linked to the people with whom we compare ourselves. If we look up to others, we may easily look down upon ourselves. It is a natural human tendency to want to be better and more than those around us. A person who feels he falls short may easily develop an inferiority complex. So one of the causes of inferiority complexes and low self-esteem is the comparing of ourselves with others — and underlying that is our desire to be more or better.

This attitude will help us to avoid comparing and longing to be bigger and better, and instead to rejoice in who others are, while also appreciating our own position as the place in which God has called us to live with and serve him. Self-denial is the opposite of self-importance. But self-denial does not mean you have low self-esteem or think negatively about yourself. In the summary of the Ten Commandments we are instructed to love God above all else and our neighbour as ourselves.

There is a healthy self-assurance, in which we accept how we were made and what gifts we were endowed with and in which we manage our personal ambitions in a healthy way. As Christians, certainly we may seek to bring out the best in ourselves in order to honour God. The secret is to base our self-esteem on how God made us and not on a comparison with other people.

Not that low self-esteem always results from comparing.