In a sequel to yesterday’s post about Rediscovering Self Esteem in young (and old) women, I want to talk today about the growing self esteem problem in young men.
I am seeing more and more young men looking to build self esteem and self confidence through their appearance, particularly through toning and building their muscles.
I have spoken to a few such young men and asked them why they spend hours in the gym every week and the answer is almost unanimously the same, “to give me more self confidence”
“Why will having bigger, more toned muscles make you more self confident?” I ask.
“Umm… because… I don’t know… because I’ll look better, I guess” is the usual reply.
“So, you’re putting in all this time and effort to build your muscles. What are you using those big strong muscles for?”
“Err… Nothing, really. They fill out my shirt nicely and they mean I can wear a muscle shirt without being embarrassed.”
“So, you spend ten hours or more a week building muscles just to look good?”
“Yeah, and to make me more self confident.”
“So if you get injured and you can’t work out for a couple of months, all that muscle will fade away or turn to fat and you’ll lose your self-confidence too?”
“….. ….. well… …. I guess so.”
It’s at this point that I have to fight back tears.
These poor guys. They’re doing exactly what the girls we talked about yesterday are doing. They’re basing their self-esteem and self-confidence on how they look, and how much they think that matters.
Now, I know how they feel. I spent too many years believing the lies and I have very, very little self confidence and almost no self esteem. I spent my teen years fit, healthy and strong but constantly felt fat, ugly and weak (I still feel that way, but 15 years sitting in front of a computer has made me a little more justified in it).
It shouldn’t be this way though. All of the guys I know who work out to try to gain self confidence are great guys, who love God, love people, are loved by everyone they know and yet they are just too blind to see it.
The problem doesn’t stop with young men either. Young men who try to base their self esteem in their looks turn into older men who are desperately trying to recapture their youth.
How are we supposed to trust God and step out in faith to follow him if we have no self-confidence? I know in my own life, time and time again, I have been afraid to follow God’s call because I don’t believe I am capable of following him. I’m paralyzed by it so often.
We, the Church, need to take the lead in restoring to our men a sense of self esteem that is not based on what they can do physically, how macho they are and how strong they are but instead is based on their character and who they are in Christ.
Self confidence must be based on who we are not what we are, on lasting truths not quick-fading appearances.
Men, let’s start with ourselves and then take the message out to all those around us that we should build our sense of self-worth on 1 John 3:1
How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!
We must learn to take our confidence from the fact that we ARE children of God – and that will never change!
13 Reply to “Rediscovering Young Men”
Thanks for pointing out the struggles that men face. I never thought about THIS from a man’s point of view before. (I do find it disturbing that we have disintergrated from “Father Knows Best” to “According to Jim…Men are given no respect on t.v. anymore, and I think that infiltrated out society, but nevermind…)
There was so much more I wanted to write about guys… I may have to continue this on Monday.
Peter, I guess it’s because I grew up so close to my brother and in a neighborhood full of boys… But I have seen what you’re talking about. And I see it now with the young boys I work with in children’s/youth/boys’ ministries. I guess I really have two questions: Where does this lack of confidence come from? And how can we instill confidence in these young men?
I totally agree. I also think there is a serious attack on men in general through the general media. How many shows on TV are there where the men are portrayed as ignorant and weak? Or as a bully who needs to be fought?
I want to know what happen to portraying a healthy family where the husband and wife support each other. Where we watch them make mistakes and work through them.
What exactly are we supposed to be getting out of these shows? I’m all for comedy, but not if it makes my husband [or me] look stupid.
It’s no wonder we are seeing multiple generations who are suffering from low self-esteem and all the issues that go along with it.
Thanks for these posts, Peter. They are awesome!
“Self confidence must be based on who we are . . .”
And, I would add, who we are is ultimately defined by relationships, at least the developmental psychologist Erik Erikson thought so.
When we are in a relationship with the Father, through his Son, we can have eternal confidence…
I’m so glad you posted about self esteem for boys/men as well. Having a teen son and tween daughter means we are living with these issues every day. Awareness is key towards helping our kids learn to love themselves for who they are, inside and out!
Great Post Friend. Great post
Wonderful follow-up post, Peter! Men totally have the same problem as women do, regarding need for self-esteem. It’s a human condition, expressed differently through the genders.
“We, the Church, need to take the lead in restoring to our men a sense of self esteem that.. is based on their character and who they are in Christ”
Agree. I think of how the church need to affirm men in their fellowship and need for one another. I think it is easy for men to be off on their own, when they need good buddies, just like women need their girlfriends. Just to laugh, talk and hang out with each other and feel accepted.
Thank you for this.
Who Am I? Your timing hits home. My latest blog asked that very question, Who Am I? (not meant to be a plug)
I rediscovered the beautiful song by Casting Crowns answering so well…”Who Am I?”
I am a flower quickly fading,
Here today and gone tomorrow,
A wave tossed in the ocean,
A vapor in the wind.
Still you hear me when I’m calling,
Lord, you catch me when I’m falling,
And you’ve told me who I am.
I am yours.
I am yours.
Very thoughtfull post on self confidence.It should be very much helpfull
I agree. Positive way of viewing would surely help. Positive thinking is equal to positive results. Nice post!