Thursday, March 01, 2007

The Theology of Self-Help

Don't laugh.

That's actually what I'm trying to do here at Thought Renewal - develop a theology of self improvement and personal development. Now hear me out before you report me to Lighthouse Trails. :-)

In this extended blog entry I'll summarize my belief that God is actually behind the "self-help" movement and is calling us to "help our selves" to all the riches of his mercy and grace. And like with everything, if he is acknowledged as Lord, then the principles of this movement can be used for our benefit and for his glory.

Please don't skim this article. If you don't have time to digest the full message and follow my line of reasoning to the end, don't read it. You'll see a link to the full post below. These first couple of paragraphs are here to serve as a teaser, if you will.

So enjoy. And help yourself to whatever else you find here.

Help Yourself! by Lyn Perry (c) 2007

Now these are words I like to hear, don’t you?

My wife and I went over to a friend's house recently. Before we even made it through the door our host invited us to make ourselves at home. Isn't this a great invitation? You’ve been greeted this way before I'm sure. Think back to the last time you went over to a friend's place. You probably weren't through knocking before you heard something like, "Come on in. Pour yourself a pop. Help yourself!" Pop, soda – depends on where you're from – either way, these are welcoming words, inviting you to kick off your shoes and make yourself comfortable.

So what do you do? What else can you do? You make yourself at home! It would be rude not to. By serving yourself you are accepting an invitation to join the family and relax in the company of friends. In fact, this kind of invite is primarily extended to those closest to us for it assumes a trust and fellowship that strangers, by definition, do not enjoy.

Let's take a closer look at this informal social contract: Help yourself.

Note two implications. Within the phrase help yourself is first an invitation. We typically do not barge into someone's home and immediately open the fridge. This behavior is reserved for college students (just kidding!). Even the most outgoing among us wait for some words of welcome. We may know for certain what the host will say, yet still we wait for the invitation.

Second, help yourself is an expression of familiarity, even intimacy. It isn't said to everyone. As we've noted, it's an offer typically reserved for family and friends.

This is an issue of trust. Both the host and the guest are confident that their relationship is genuine. For you see, not only does the host accept the guest into his or her home without reservation, but the guest accepts the host's invitation based upon the assumption that he or she is a trustworthy person. I'm trusting that my friend won't slip anything into my drink.

You might be thinking by now, "What does all this have to do with personal growth?" I think it will become clear in a moment because I believe the implications of this welcoming phrase, help yourself, puts our quest for personal development in perspective.

Go here to read the whole essay.


Anonymous said...

Great great great web site! I am following the same goal more at a spiritual level self motivation on my web site.

Pls stop by and drop a comment!

Bob & Larry... er, Lyn Perry said...

Thanks for stopping by. Appreciate your kind words. The purpose of this blog is pretty clear, but I also want it to help others who are searching for Christ to find him. SDG