Self-help is both more and less than it’s cracked up to be.
Some Christians get down on it and I can understand why. According to the New Testament, those who are in Christ have died to their old life and are now living as a new kind of human. It’s no longer about some sort of self-improvement plan; it’s about Christ conforming us into his image as we cooperate with his Spirit’s work inside us. (Galatians 2:20, 2 Corinthians 5:17, Colossians 3:3, Ephesians 4:21-24, Galatians 5:16, etc.)
Other Christians consume massive amounts of self-help without a second thought. They essentially read the same books the world does, think the same way the world does, pursue the same things the world does, and get the same results the world does. They’re unaware that all their efforts are just adding more makeup to a corpse.
I’ve found that there is a middle way worth taking when it comes to self-help. It starts by recognizing that 1) all truth is God’s truth, regardless of the source or intent. Then, it 2) invites the Spirit and 3) integrates the Scriptures into the learning process. Finally, it 4) involves a willingness to be changed by God through it all.
With this theological paradigm of self-help, you can read the latest secular self-improvement plan and come away radically changed for the better; not because of the author but because of the Author. I’ve done this many times – asking God to show me how a truth in a secular piece of work applies to my life and his Word.
Approaching self-help like this takes time and discernment, but I believe it’s the best way to engage it as a believer.
What do you think?