“The desire for transformation lies deep in every human heart. This is why people enter therapy, join health clubs, get into recovery groups, read self-help books, attend motivational seminars, and make New Year’s resolutions.” Excerpt from “The life you’ve always wanted” by John Ortberg.
John Ortberg summarized why self-help is very popular in the US nowadays. Thousands of people flock to seminars and conferences of famous motivational speakers like John Maxwell, Anthony Robbins and Stephen Covey year after year. I remember a few years ago, back when I was still new in church that I was so crazy with this one talk by Anthony Robbins that I’d play it over and over again until I’d memorize the words he spoke in a famous TED talk. (You can check it at the link below if you’re interestedhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cpc-t-Uwv1I). The reason is because I was trying to find motivation in life. I was searching for the craziest talk, speech, video out there that will push me and give me internal drive to be a highly successful person. My drive for life was low back then, and I found a lot of the things I do as meaningless. I didn’t find purpose in work primarily and why I’d have to toil all the meaningless days of my life just to earn money. I recall searching for these type of talks that will pump me up so that I’d have more discipline and in turn be more effective in life.
It wasn’t long until I figured and sensed that there was something wrong with me trying to find drive and inspiration from a speaker whom I only knew through youtube. Being, a new Christian back then, the Holy Spirit was tugging my heart and telling me that I should stop listening to this guy. It was really a Lordship issue, who will be my Lord? Who will be my master? If I were to continue to adhere primarily to the principles of self-help, I knew that my Lordship with Jesus Christ would have been stake. If I did continue, then I would have been the master and not Christ. Therefore I stopped listening to him and I resolved to draw only inspiration from scripture to guide my life.
Having said that, I’m not totally disregarding reading these type of materials. After all some leadership and self-help materials have very nice principles which we could use in work, in dealing with other people, and in self-discipline. For the past few months I’ve been reading a lot of leadership books from Maxwell. The reason I mentioned my experience above is because my faith was still weak during that time. It was highly probable I would’ve gotten so engrossed with self-help and put Christianity in the back ground. What stopped me is because I knew that I went to church not to be more successful, but because I was convicted of my sin and only Jesus Christ can save me from that.
“One man’s faith allows him to eat everything, but another man, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables.” Romans 14:2
I’ve just finished a book named: “The 7 habits of highly effective people” and this book is one of the best selling self-help book of all time. This book sold over 15 million copies already and I must admit that this book is worth reading. The book broke a lot of mindsets in me. These mindsets, to name a few, are the scarcity mentality and the autobiographical response. The book prescribes that we should have an abundance mentality and learn emphatic communication instead of the two aforementioned mindsets. I won’t go too much on these two ideas, but I can reference it with some verses in the bible:
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. Ephesians 1:3
My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. James 1:19
What amazed me is that the author (Stephen Covey) mentioned at the end of the book that he believes that correct principles are natural laws, and that God, the Creator and Father of us all, is the source of them. I was just amazed that Mr. Covey has a Christian sentiment with regard to principles. This just goes to show that everything that we will ever need in life is already found in the Bible. We just have to look deeper and seek God further for these things. However, the danger in that is that we may in turn, turn the Bible to just another self-help book as well. Although I adhere to some of the principles in the book of Mr. Stephen Covey, I have to admit that it is still self help. Self-help no matter how powerful it is will only bring us so far.
As Pastor Nixon said in a preaching:
“Some people use the bible for self help, only by knowing who Jesus is can the bible have a lasting impact on our lives.”
Read my next post as I compare and contrast the habits that Mr. Covey placed in his book against what I believe are the things that can really help us to be truly effective Christians.