The term personal development is a term I see thrown around a lot these days. I see it used most often by business growth marketing gurus and self-help books that provide a step-by-step process for living happier lives. It is defined by Wikipedia as, “activities that develop a person’s capabilities and potential, build human capital, facilitate employability, and enhance quality of life and the realization of dreams and aspirations.”
The word activities in this definition suggests that the development part of this term is achieved by what we do, or what we seek out to do in order to grow personally. At a quick glance of this definition, it is centered around our daydreams brought to life, financial growth status, and the specific decisions we make that move us towards whatever we are individually running after.
Does adding the word, “Christian” change the definition of personal development? If developing personally means creating some sort of plan of action towards a specific goal, then making decisions is an important factor here. Let’s take a look at how decisions play a big role in defining this idea.
For starters, being a Christian means centering my thoughts around God’s personal development plan for me rather than my own personal development plan for me. Already I am at a starting point that is different from how the world is looking at it.
When I am centered on God, my prayer and intimacy with Him on a daily basis influences and shapes my daily decisions- no matter how big or small- with intention and contentment. Being intimate with God before making decisions helps me remain confident in God’s guidance through the process. It also means remaining content through the process after making my decisions…aka: when doors close on me that force me into making lifestyle changes that I don’t necessarily want to make. It results in acceptance over God’s sovereignty: I am not capable of “messing up” what God has already worked out for me. He gave me free will to choose…to decide…but His hand is over me every step of the way and He asks for my humility through it. He will change my course of direction as He can only see fit.
Dreaming and having aspirations is not inherently bad. Having financial goals is not inherently wrong. Wanting to be a better person is…vague, but not necessarily wrong. Being employable is definitely good. Enhancing our lives is just….wanting to enjoy God’s blessings unto us, really. But the heart behind it all is what matters most, along with a healthy realization of how our sins affect us and our decisions, too. Even on our best day and with every achievement crossed off our list, we still desperately need God like we do on our worst day, right?
What I want to do here is emphasize the idea of “success” when we are taking a look at personal development. Are we idolizing our personal goals and achievements? Who are we without them? Is God at the center when we think about making decisions and taking steps forward to improve our development…or is He sidelined as an afterthought?
Personally speaking, I want to make decisions that will help develop and nurture more of the fruits of the Spirit. Rather than focusing on a specific digit growth in my bank account or different strategies for increasing followers on my social media page, I strive to assess my love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control in relation to how I want to develop more personally like Christ.
If my focus is here, I am reminded how much He has already done for me and how little I actually need to be so focused on myself, anyway.