My Disposition Toward Self-Help

I feel the need to explore some tensions between the my faith and what might be deemed ‘self-help’.

Around the time I started this blog, I was consuming content, online video content in particular, in the spectrum of entrepreneurship/business development, sales and management, self-improvement, and psychology. During that time, that whole genre of personal development was greatly helpful to me. What has changed?

You have to consider where I was personally at that time. I believed the right things theologically, but I needed some healing and development personally. I was also suffering from isolation spiritually. Yeah, I actually had a few real spiritual friendships in that small, but we had given each other all we could give each other at the time and I needed some fresh perspective. There is something really good about real conversation with people who are together spiritually, but diverse in personality. A person benefits from both familiar friends, which I had, and challenging counselors, which I needed. So I found such counselors online.

The difference now is that I hunger for counsel more explicitly rooted in, and flowing out of, Christian faith. I presently have some good counsel in that regard, and I also desire to function as such counsel.

There is surely a spectrum of opinions in Christianity about psychological conditions, treatments and associated philosophies and worldviews. Personally, I believe that psychology is not a bad thing if regarded by the literal definition of the word, “the study of the soul”. I consider the soul, that is, the mind, will, and emotions, to be yet another marvelous set of systems of creation worth studying. It’s the points where psychological hypotheses stray into the philosophical and metaphysical realm that some Christians begin to have concern. Fair enough, psychology is a mixed bag in that regard.

Maybe part of the reason I have framed this in a ‘Christianity versus psychology’ way is that I have perceived pressure from the Christian side to gloss over and oversimplify issues with Bible verse quotations.  Conversely, from the worldly side I feel a pressure to focus more and more on self.   I think it can be helpful to give a name to a particular set of symptoms as a way of describing it or making it easier to talk about. However, there’s a difference between admitting a problem and making it your identity.

I am also not saying that God’s word is ineffective, but to one who is struggling, extra discernment might be required to communicate the Word in an effective way. Therefore, I think it is valuable to understand emotions, and thoughts, and brain chemistry; to be able to discern and really help the systems of the soul.

Finally, I will say the the ultimate cure is spiritual.  However, the path from truth to experience is not often a straight one.  And that’s where the call to wisdom is for Christians in this area: to help people straighten those paths.

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