A few years ago I got heavily involved in the personal development space. I recognized I needed help to better myself after years of suffering through trauma and mental illness. I recognized I needed to change my mindset that was rooted in fear and doubt. I recognized I needed to grow.
And I thought I could do it myself by harnessing the mighty intellect of the self help gurus out in the world. And there are plenty of big names out there. You know the people.
Now don’t get me wrong, I have read some good, impactful books about creating habits and the power of consistency. There are some incredibly talented individuals in the areas of cognitive behavioural therapy and behaviour modification.
But this area of self help "knowledge" is a slippery slope for a Christian.
The focus of many of these personal development books is on SELF. That within me I have everything I need to be successful. To be influential. To scale the mighty mountains in front of me.
But that simply isn't true.
The personal development world wanted to sell me the lie that I was limitless. That I was capable of all things. Essentially it wanted to make me a god working to dictate my future to the so-called universe.
Let’s be clear - manifestation (the new self help buzz word) simply is not biblical. The Bible declares “Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and you are exalted as head above all.” 1 Chronicles 29:11
And again, ““For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and FOR HIM.” Colossians 1:16 (emphasis mine)
It's about HIM. Who HE is. What HE has done. And what HE chooses to do through us as we surrender to HIS will.
I get the attraction of self help "gospel" - but it's a message that will lead you far from God. Because the truth is - whether we like to hear it or not - is that we are not capable of all things on our own. We are not powerful. Limitless. We do not have control over the shape of our life just by thinking good thoughts about it.
The reality is I'm a broken person. Flawed. Fallible. Definitely limited. That's why I need Jesus.
Book after book of personal development started to leave me feeling empty. I started to realize that their message was taking me away from dependency on God and placing the dependency on myself and my actions.
I look back at it now and it all seems so silly! How could I possibly have devoted so much energy into trying to be the author of my success - all based on MY way, MY vision and MY strength. I had to fall on my face and fail quite a few times before realizing I had it all backwards. Did I have good intentions? Sure. Was wanting to rewire my way of thinking wrong? Absolutely not. The problem wasn't the underlying desire but where I was going to have the desire met and fulfilled. Does that resonate with you?
I can say after redirecting my focus from the personal development world to digging into the word - learning more about God, who he is and who he's created me to be - I couldn't be more happy to admit I'm not enough.
It is Christ through me at work to help me walk out the purpose God has over me. My trust and my faith is in Christ. With him the impossible is possible. He is infallible. He is faithful. He is powerful. He is my source.
If you are someone heavily involved in the personal development world I would love to encourage you to really look at the underlying messages of these books and speakers - where are they directing you?
And I would challenge you to open your Bible as much as you open a personal development book and see really where our hope comes from.