The other day I was writing some teaching notes about the difference between encouragement and flattery. Last night I found this old journal entry from 2010 which put a different spin on the subject.
I wrote this entry after I had received my second Employee of the Quarter award at the retirement apartments where I was working in a major multitasking position known as the command center.
Journal entry from 2010
Most of my life I have been barraged by negative and destructive thoughts. My mind used to spin with these thoughts, but the past ten years I have worked hard to take these thoughts captive, submit them to Christ, and to pray for truth. But this time it wasn’t negative thoughts that tripped me up, it was positive ones.
Yesterday, I was talking to a good friend about pride. Today, I stepped into the net and got caught in it. As soon as I arrived at work I had to clean up a co-workers mistake, which is nothing out of the ordinary. We all make mistakes, but this morning I began to congratulate myself about how dependable I was. “Hmmm Jeannie, you haven’t made any noticeable mistakes in a while. It must be good for your boss to know that she can count on you to get the job done right. That is why she keeps entrusting you with more responsibilities and projects. Good job Jeannie!”
Not long after I had given myself one last pat on my back, I realized that I had forgotten to complete an assignment that had been given to me a few days before (that sure took me down a notch.) Then I couldn’t unjam the copier and had to call maintenance for help. (one notch lower) And just when I was beginning to wonder why I couldn’t measure up to my own expectations, I was confronted by my boss about a mistake a resident had made on her rent check. Because I had not noticed the mistake before I had made the rent deposits, the checked got kicked back from the bank and the corporate office was not happy about it. As my boss stood at my desk I heard the words no employee wants to hear, “I’m sorry, but I’m going to have to write you up for this.” Even though her tone was sweet, the words hit hard.
As I reflected on this morning’s events, Proverbs 29:5 came to mind: “A man who flatters his neighbor Spreads a net for his feet (NKJV). It’s funny, I had never before thought about the flattering lips in this verse as being MY flattering lips. But it was obvious that my self-flattery had spread a net that had tripped me up.
So what is the difference between healthy self-esteem and self-flattery? One is Christ-centered- “Look at Him!” The other is self-centered-“Look at me!
When we have healthy self-esteem (or God-confidence) we receive our value by knowing our identity in Christ. When we flatter ourselves we are trying to receive our identity through others.
God confidence makes us thankful. Self-flattery makes us prideful.
Having God-confidence releases us to celebrate our strengths, gifts, and accomplishments. Flattery causes us to compare instead celebrating.
God-confidence causes us to build others up. Self-flattery makes us jealous and will often cause us to tear others down.
God confidence brings unity, self-flattery brings division.
Although self-flattery, may at first, seem like a friend, it can quickly become an obvious enemy. For the next step after lifting ourselves up in our own understanding is often tearing ourselves down.
One is a notch; the other is a net. I don’t know about you, but I would rather focus on Christ and let Him raise me up, then get caught in the net of pride and make myself fall.
May you be abundantly blessed!
“Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall”(Proverbs 16:18).