Why do I constantly put myself down?

February 2, 2020

Imagine God clothed in a flame of fire rising from the midst of a bush. Imagine staring into the blaze, realizing that the bush is burning, but the flames are not consuming it. Imagine hearing God call your name out of the flame and picture being told to take your sandals off because the place you are standing is holy ground. (Exodus 3:1-6) Moses hid his face, but I think I might have fainted in fear.

During this miraculous encounter, God calls Moses to bring the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt. Immediately, as God explains His plan, Moses does not feel he has what it takes to accomplish what God is asking him to do. Moses questions God in Exodus 3:11 “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?” God encourages Moses and explains how He will be with Moses throughout the task. Still, Moses feels hesitant and again questions God. In Exodus 4:10, he says, “Oh, my Lord, I am not eloquent, either in the past or since you have spoken to your servant, but I am slow of speech and of tongue.“ Moses is incredibly concerned about his ability to do what the Lord is asking him. He sees his flaws and his shortcomings.

I have to admit, Moses’ questions encourage me. His questions to God give me the framework to better understand a struggle I have wrestled with throughout my adult life.

I am getting better, but it used to be that I would spend my days thinking about all of my shortcomings. In fact, I viewed every aspect of my life, my health, my abilities, and gifts with a negative lens. I am not sure how it started, but the negativity became the focus of my days. I realize this is not what God desires, but it took me years to understand this.

This wasn’t necessarily Moses’ pattern. I have no idea if he constantly put himself down in his thought life, as I did for so many years. I do know his reaction with God at the burning bush shows his immediate concern for his inadequacies. When I think about God working through people for His tasks to be accomplished, I wonder how many people immediately worry about their shortcomings too.

At a specific season in my life, all I thought about were my disappointments. I could not get past my limitations. In fact, my failures were all I could see. Scripture tells us that after Moses kills the Egyptian, he flees for Midian. I wonder if this terrible sin was a constant part of his thought process, even though it was years behind him and a different part of his life.

Exodus 2:11-15 “One day, when Moses had grown up, he went out to his people and looked on their burdens, and he saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his people. He looked this way and that, and seeing no one, he struck down the Egyptian and hid him in the sand. When he went out the next day, behold, two Hebrews were struggling together. And he said to the man in the wrong, ‘Why do you strike your companion?’ He answered, ‘Who made you a prince and a judge over us? Do you mean to kill me as you killed the Egyptian?’ Then Moses was afraid, and thought, ‘Surely the thing is known.’ When Pharaoh heard of it, he sought to kill Moses. But Moses fled from Pharaoh and stayed in the land of Midian. And he sat down by a well.”

Our past can haunt us. It can make us feel inadequate for the present and for the future God is calling us to. We can think of who we were, and we can project who we were into who we are, forgetting the changes we have made and the work God has done. We can forget we have been forgiven. We can allow the weight of our past to not only affect our present, but we can push it forward and let it prevent us from pursuing the future God is calling us to. We can let it drive itself deep into our soul and permeate every way we look at ourselves.

Do you constantly put yourself down? Why?

I know if we have the opposite reaction, rather than constantly putting ourselves down, we only think of how great we are; that is pride. But, did you know constantly putting ourselves down is an inverted form of pride? When I realized this, I only felt worse about myself. I thought I was experiencing one good character trait— humility. Instead, I recognized that what I was really experiencing was a twisted form of pride.

I desperately wanted to change. I desperately wanted relief from the unrelenting negative thoughts that assaulted my mind day after day. To move forward, first, I had to receive God’s forgiveness for my past. I was holding past sins over my head, reminding myself over and over what a wretch I was. I needed to let go of the past and begin to see who God was creating me to be.

God created us in His image. When we believe in Jesus as God’s Son, the Holy Spirit begins to work in our inner being. Slowly over time, we begin to change. As we walk forward in faith, studying God’s Word, sitting with Him in prayer, and learning, He begins to change us from the inside out. As we trust His goodness, we need to believe who He is making us be so that we can follow Him toward our future rather than cowering in fear over our past and our inadequacies.  

Moses did not trust his ability to complete the task God put before him. In fact, he asks God to send someone else. Exodus 4:13, “But he said, ‘Oh, my Lord, please send someone else.’”

Are you asking God to send someone else for what He is calling you to do?

God provides Aaron to speak for Moses, and we can trust He will provide for us too. God desires us to believe Him, trust Him and grow in faith. He will work through us as we remain surrendered and dependent upon Him and His Spirit at work in us.

If we constantly put ourselves down, we will be unable to follow God’s call. We will live focused on ourselves, and we will miss the adventure of trusting Him above our insecurities. We will argue away the truth of what God wants to do in us and through us. We will cower in insecurity rather than believing in the security of God’s Presence.

With God’s help, I have learned to stop putting myself down all the time. If this is something you do, I encourage you to spend time with God and let Him show you your worth as His child. Understanding who God is and who we are in Him changes everything.

Leave a comment, I’d love to hear your thoughts.


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