Each of us needs all of us. It is naïve to think otherwise. No one succeeds alone; it is hard to find a rich hermit. The importance of relationships for a fulfilling life is compelling. We were created for relationships. Jim Rohn was spot on when he said “Friendship is the biggest support system in the whole world.” Personally, I can trace everything I consider a major achievement in life to a friend who told be about the existence of some opportunities or gave me ideas when I was clueless. I don’t know where I would be without good friends God brought into my life.
In the introduction chapter of his classic book, “Outliers – The Story of Success”, Malcolm Gladwell took the importance of human relationship to another level. He reported a study carried out among the Italian tribe (Rosetans) who migrated to Pennsylvania, United States of Americain the late 19th century. The research study was conducted to find out why none of the Rosetans under the age of 65 years ever had a heart disease or any non-communicable diseases, while their native-American neighbours suffered from all kinds of ailments. The answer was not in any special diets of the Rosetans, physical exercises or genetic codes. The research finding was that their communal lifestyle made the difference. The Rosetans lived with their great-grandparents under the same roof.
The summary of the study in Malcolm Gladwell’s book is that having good relationships is crucial to good health. Having established the importance of communal living for human health, Malcolm went ahead to present real life experiences to underscore the fact that the concept of self-made success is, at best, a fallacy. No one succeeds without the assistance of other people.
Self-worth Vs Reputation
If having good relationships is so important for our existence, why have we substituted mutual interdependence for destructive independence? It’s because most of us lack a sense of self-worth. Our lack of a sense of self-worth shows up in our subtle or flagrant quest for reputation. Though there’s nothing wrong with wanting to have a good reputation, the challenge is that we trade in our self-worth/self-esteem, which is of greater value, for something that is worth less. Self-worth is how we feel about ourselves whereas reputation is how others feel about us. People with low self-esteem do things for the sole purpose of looking good in the eyes of others. In effect, such people are not true to themselves.
The biggest obstacle to living the life God purposed for us is low self-esteem. Low self-esteem breeds selfishness. It is impossible to love others when we feel unloved. We cannot give positive feedbacks or compliments when we feel inadequate. In contrary, a person with high self-esteem genuinely shows love to other people and before long his reputation starts soaring. The starting point of a good reputation is self-worth. I remember someone said: “Everything we have outside is a product of what we’ve accomplished inside.”
The quest for reputation has resulted in many social problems: indebtedness, stealing, corruption, etc. People indulge in all sorts of vices in order to feel among. Indebtedness, for instance, is a major issue. Some people buy almost anything on credit. Worse still, they get angry when the creditor asks for repayment. In the pursuit of reputation, we risk falling out of the fold and losing our salvation. Years ago, I lent a brother in church N5,000 (US$30) and he promised paying back at a later date. I never saw him again because he stopped coming to Church!
Jesus Christ should be our example. The Scripture says: “He made Himself of no reputation” meaning Jesus cared less about people’s opinion about Him. He knew who he was and didn’t need human approval. His focus was on accomplishing His earthly assignment. We would accomplish much more with our lives if we know and focus on God’s purpose for us.
How to enhance our self-worth
There’s a common parlance amongst Christians, which is: “I am who God says I am.” Unfortunately, we don’t live it out. It’s not surprising though. The reason being that we don’t study God’s Word to really know who God says we are. For most Christians what they know about themselves based on the Word of God is third-party information (What they heard the preacher say, for instance). The essence of the Word of God is to bring about a change in us through the renewing of our minds. It is the Word of God that gives us the right measure of self-worth. When we are overly concerned about our reputation, we bring a lot of needless pains upon ourselves.
The Scripture says “Study to show thyself approved unto God…” (II Timothy 2:15). By not studying the Word of God as we should, we forfeit the benefit of doing so. Hence, without God’s approval, we play all kinds of tricks to get the approval of man.