The Sin of Self-Esteem by Thomas S. Buchanan

The Sin of Self-Esteem

Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than themselves.
—Philippians 2:3

Before Gregory the Great came up with the list known as the seven deadly sins, John Cassian wrote of the eight vices, the seventh of which is the vice of self-esteem. This is a sin that is no longer considered to be a sin by many. Although narcissism is still considered (by most) to be wrong, this younger brother of self-love is very popular. Modern education theory places a tremendous emphasis on increasing a child’s self-esteem, almost as much as teaching him about the newfound virtue of tolerance. Hence, we are told that we must be careful not to damage a child’s self-esteem by giving him a failing grade, even if it is deserved, because he might come to realize that he is not as good as he thinks he is. For some reason the proponents of such ideas think it is more important to have an inordinately high regard for oneself than a proper one. Self-respect and a proper sense of self-worth are not sins, but holding oneself in high esteem is.

This sin is ubiquitous and difficult to master. In his Institutes Cassian wrote:

THIS ARTICLE ONLY AVAILABLE TO SUBSCRIBERS.
FOR QUICK ACCESS:


Thomas S. Buchanan is the George W. Laird Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Biomedical Engineering at the University of Delaware. He has studied at UCSD, Northwestern University, and MIT, and has held visiting professorships at the University of Western Australia and the University of Aix-Marseille. He has served as department chairman, deputy dean, and institute director, president of the American Society of Biomechanics, and editor-in-chief of the Journal of Applied Biomechanics. He is on the Board of Trustees of Saint Katherine College, the editorial board of Touchstone, and the board of The Fellowship of St. James.

calling all readers

Please Donate

"There are magazines worth reading but few worth saving . . . Touchstone is just such a magazine."
—Alice von Hildebrand

"Here we do not concede one square millimeter of territory to falsehood, folly, contemporary sentimentality, or fashion. We speak the truth, and let God be our judge. . . . Touchstone is the one committedly Christian conservative journal."
—Anthony Esolen, Touchstone senior editor

Support Touchstone

• Not a subscriber or wish to renew your subscription? Subscribe to Touchstone today for full online access. Over 30 years of publishing!


personal subscriptions

Purchase
Online Subscription

Get a one-year full-access subscription to the Touchstone online archives including pdf downloads for only $19.95. That's only $1.66 per month!


RENEW your online subscription

Purchase Print &
Online Subscription

Get six issues (one year) of Touchstone PLUS full online access including pdf downloads for only $39.95. That's only $3.34 per month!


RENEW your print/online
subscription

gift subscriptions

GIVE Print &
Online Subscription

Give six issues (one year) of Touchstone PLUS full online access including pdf downloads for the reduced rate of $29.95. That's only $2.50 per month!


RENEW your gift subscription

Transactions will be processed on a secure server.

bulk subscriptions

Order Touchstone subscriptions in bulk and save $10 per sub! Each subscription includes 6 issues of Touchstone plus full online access to touchstonemag.com—including archives, videos, and pdf downloads of recent issues for only $29.95 each! Great for churches or study groups.

kindle subscription

OR get a subscription to Touchstone to read on your Kindle for only $1.99 per month! (This option is KINDLE ONLY and does not include either print or online.)

Your subscription goes a long way to ensure that Touchstone is able to continue its mission of publishing quality Christian articles and commentary.


more from the online archives

30.6—Nov/Dec 2017

The Greatness Commission

Christ, Individualism & the Meaning of Cultural Diversity by Anthony Esolen

33.1—January/February 2020

Surprised by Gentleness

on a Saint's Charism That Cures Toxic Perfectionism by Colleen Carroll Campbell

35.2—Mar/Apr 2022

Say Something

on Fatigued Christians Deciding to Engage the Culture by Keith Lowery

00