“Focus your mind on this!”, “Think only about that!” In recent times thought has been exalted to the point of a deity. Let us investigate how we got into this rut. On the mount of blessing Jesus said “…seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matthew 6:33). This sums up the pursuit of man whom he created (Genesis 2:7); however, in modern times, we find Christians turning this equation upside down. With much prayer and investigation, I have come to identify one of the chief causes of this dissent in ambition of the Christian. The influx of ‘self-help’ books has, to a large extent, converted Christendom into “all these things” seekers. Nevertheless, the divinely designed ambition is to first seek holiness and then allow God to bless, in terms of material security, as He wills.
What really is a ‘self-help’ book? The title of the genre alone should be enough to let a Christian know that this is not for them. According to goodroods.com, “Self-help, or self-improvement, is a self-guided improvement – economically, intellectually, or emotionally – often with a substantial psychological basis. Many different self-help groupings exist and each has its own focus, techniques, associated beliefs, proponents and in some cases, leaders.” (Emphasis Added). Should we be self-guided? Let’s see what the Bible has to say on this matter, “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6). Notice that goodreads.com also highlights that self-help groupings have “associated beliefs”. We are to be mindful of the beliefs that accompany the literature that we read and apply to our lives.
Some of the most prominent self-help authors are Stephen Covey, Dale Carnegie, Ekhart Tolle, Wayne Dwyer, Norman Vincent Peale, Deepak Chopra, Malcolm Gladwell, David Schwartz, James Allen, and Rhonda Byrne. Many, if not all of these individuals look up to Napoleon Hill who is a giant in this genre.His most popular book is ‘Think and Grow Rich’. This book contains the popular statement “Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve with positive mental attitude.” This statement negates the role God plays in the life of his creation. We will delve deeper into Napoleon Hill’s Theology in a later edition in this series. This statement is in stark contrast to Jesus’ prayer template found in Matthew 6. Here Jesus teaches His disciples that it is not whatever you want to conceive or believe that you will achieve but it is according to God’s will which is to be “be done on earth, as it is in heaven.”
It is a dangerous thing to have your ambition guided by the principles of the self-help world. It creates religious syncretism. As a substitute for self-help literature, I propose to you a study of the book of Proverbs. This book of the Bible provides you with all the principles/lessons necessary to attain the success that God has in store for you.
Endeavor to read God’s word and be holy rather than to follow the self-help world, for the true wealth God has in mind for us can only be attained as we seek God’s kingdom and His righteousness. From the mount of blessing Jesus taught that we are to “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:” (Matthew 6:19-20).
To Be Continued…