A place for discussion of living out our faith in the context of public service, having a Christlike influence in our offices and on those we serve, and responding to religious persecution at work.
Self-Help: Biblical or Not?
December 29, 2010 at 12:18 pm #118869
This post for for the purpose of discussing a comment I made on the group yesterday:
As with a few dollars a day going into an investment fund, learning is a habit that accumulates little by little each day. How much we invest in that fund and where we invest it will determine how wealthy we eventually become. Scottish author, Samuel Smiles, founded the modern self-help field with his 19th century bestseller, Self Help. In it he writes, “Men of business are accustomed to quote the maxim that ‘time is money’ — but it is more; the proper improvement of it is self-culture, self-improvement, and growth of character. An hour wasted daily on trifles or in indolence, would, if devoted to self-improvement, make an ignorant man wise in a few years, and employed in good works, would make his life fruitful, and death a harvest of worthy deeds. Fifteen minutes a day devoted to self-improvement will be felt at the end of the year.” – posted by Jim Clemmer at http://www.jimclemmer.com/from-phase-of-life-to-way-of-life.php
Jason Hastings replied ‘Personally I don’t get into the self-help (self-esteem, self-improvement) movement that has been popularized by Rick Warren and Joel Osteen, et al. I think it is counter to what the Bible teaches us. I think that we are so sinful, we don’t even know what we need to fix in ourselves. The self-help movement is Adam’s fig leaf approach.’
Join in with your perspective as desired.
December 29, 2010 at 12:36 pm #118875
Jason, I am with you in regard to self-help, especially in the way that the term is used in our culture. I have often replied to people who said ‘God helps those who help themselves’ that that is not biblical … but that ‘God helps those who help others’ is a biblical principle. To take that a little further, I believe that it depends on what is meant by the expression. If it is meant that God helps those who help themselves as opposed to helping others, that is clearly an unbiblical view. If it is meant that God helps those who help themselves as opposed to sitting around, doing nothing, and expecting God to do everything for you, then I can accept that as a biblical perspective.
I don’t really have any idea how Samuel Smiles was thinking of self-help, but I have read Jim Clemmer enough to know that he speaks from a pretty solid biblical perspective.
When I read ‘An hour wasted daily on trifles or in indolence, would, if devoted to self-improvement’ I thought of such things as reading and studying the Bible or even studying professional development resources and of Paul’s exhortation to ‘make the most of every opportunity’.
I also believe, as I sense that you do, that our modern self-help attitude has caused a great weakness in the American churches, resulting in most Christians never seeking or getting spiritual help or guidance beyond sitting in a pew on Sunday mornings because of their ‘I can handle things on my own’ attitude that Rush Limbaugh likes to call ‘rugged individualism’.
Are we that far apart in our thinking, Jason?
December 30, 2010 at 1:25 am #118873
Probably not. we are probably going to start splitting hairs. But I honestly believe that we are so proned to self-deception that we don’t even know what our biggest problems are, hence the reference to Adam trying to cover up with a fig leaf.
December 30, 2010 at 12:16 pm #118871
Again, I am in agreement … my thinking in posting this was not on taking steps to ‘fix your problems’, but on taking some self-initiative to improve yourself, not in self-defined ways, but in obedience to what the Lord has told us to do, and sometimes that is not specific.
What I mean by not specific is that in the parable where Jesus used the phrase ‘Well done, good and faithful servant’, the praise was not for obedience to something specific, for for taking initiative and doing the kinds of things with the talents given that the servants knew the master would want done.
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