Valuing Yourself and Your Work
For the past few months in particular I’ve been thinking about what it means to really value your own work. This is something that I’ve struggled with for much of my adult life. I listen far too often to the voices in my head saying that I’m not good enough, that I have nothing to offer, and that my contribution isn’t valuable. I think growing up in the church didn’t help this. For much of my life the sin of pride was communicated to be paramount and something to be absolutely avoided. For fear of becoming proud I degraded myself. Ironically, when we fear pride and run from it we can become proud of our humility and thus fall by the same trap we were avoiding.
In some ways maybe growing up around incredibly intelligent and talented people didn’t help either. I often fall prey to comparing myself to others and it doesn’t take long in this activity before I feel inferior and even worthless.
Whatever they are, when it really comes down to it the reasons and sources for this lack of value I feel towards myself, don’t really matter. The fact is that I have a very bad habit of degrading myself and my work and it’s something I feel I need to change.
By devaluing my own skills and contributions I am essentially burying my “talents” in the sand. I am devaluing God’s image within me. I am saying to my creator “You did not create well.” When I say “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body of Christ,” and I deny my contribution to that body, I am not just devaluing myself, I am devaluing the Bride of Christ. May it not be, Lord.
So, I’m trying to learn. I’m trying to learn that I do have valuable things to offer my family, friends, church and the world at large. I do have skills that are worth something.
There are a few little steps that I am currently tentatively trying to take towards valuing myself and my work:
- 1. I want to recognize that it isn’t sinful to accept recognition or praise. This is a struggle for me. It makes me really uncomfortable when people compliment me and I’ve never known how to accept it. I want to get better at this – I don’t want to run from compliments (of course, I also don’t want to seek them out and dig for them). I want to learn to be truthfully gracious when faced with recognition.
- I don’t want to be ashamed to ask for compensation for skills or services that I am offering. Money makes me uncomfortable, it always has. I don’t like talking about it. But, the truth of the matter is that our budget is incredibly tight right now and I can’t afford to offer my skills for free, but I want to. For me the battle over what to charge for things like the yoga class I’m planning on starting is a struggle against my own degradation of the gifts and abilities that God has given me. I devalue myself when I offer my knowledge and experience for free (that’s not to say that there aren’t good reasons to sometimes offer our skills for free, but I’m just realizing that most of the time the reasons that I have for offering my abilities for free aren’t really all that healthy).
Does anybody else struggle with this? What are things that have helped you to see value in yourself as a talented creation of God?
Rejoicing in the journey - Bethany Stedman