Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Christian Self-help, Catholic self-help

Covey would call it “effectiveness”. Siebold would call it “world-class” or “champion”. We call it “sanctity”—the complete version of effectiveness; it is heaven-class, elevating the world-class to heaven-class. It is beyond excellence--it is blessedness. It is what we really want.

The saints are exceptionally tough people. Even though many of them had physical ailments and spiritual struggles, one thing we know is that they battled through them all—with joy.
This blog is a two-fold response to the thousands of excellent self-help books out there:

  1. Most Christians mistakenly believe that self-help books are only for people who do not believe in God.
  2. Most self-help books do not approach life as “life in Christ”, but only approach life as “life”.

These misunderstandings and lacks are really masks behind which people hide their true selves.
Most Christians mistakenly believe that self-help books are only for people “who don’t need God” because they themselves do not wish to take practical steps to become better people. Somewhere down the line, they believe that God will “fix” them, irrespective of what they do. This is a tragic attitude in life! This is also the reason why religion is used to justify destructive behaviour and attitudes. The saints did not have this attitude. Instead, the saints used whatever means necessary which God had already given them in order to realize His divine will for them. They were the opposite of selfish—they were selfless.

Secondly, most self-help books only approach life as “life”—common to all people in joys and struggles. I would insist, however, that life in Christ is a whole other ballgame! Life in Christ is more demanding, more painful, and more joyful—it is glorious!

Our goal is not only to be effective or world-class, our goal is sanctity! We do not only desire to be successful in the life we live in the world, but more importantly successful in the spiritual life, which we also live amidst the world. The two are not incompatible, as many mistakenly think.

There is a very obvious congruence between self-help books and Christian self-help: self-help books are to help you be successful in your life and its various roles, while Christian self-help is to help you be successful in your life and its various roles in order to become holy and to help others become holy. Where self-help books end, the Christian life, the sacramental life, begins.

Remember, Christians and non-Christians alike can and should be successful in life in all the same ways. The difference is that the Christian has the obligation to do all things with extraordinary love—with the love of Jesus Christ.

For any good self-help book you read, remember this: do it all out of pure love for God first, and for others. That way, you will bring honour to God.

Matthew S. MacLennan
August 17, 2012

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