There are keys that popular self growth quotes don’t say about personal development, as they are just a reflection of the values and shallowness of our culture. They will seem quite nice, but they are generally impotent to make real change because they depend on the weakness of human virtue. It is like trying to pull oneself up by one’s own bootstraps.
Self Growth Quotes Will:
- Push a certain self-sufficiency instead of a dependence on God’s help and grace in our lives.
- Reflect a humanism that is the closed system of the world without anything of heaven entering the picture. Human virtue is typically a goal dependent on man to achieve while ignoring the gift of righteousness that God has supplied in Christ (Romans 10:3).
- Be largely incorporating temporal approaches for the sake of temporal returns and have no correct allusion to eternal things.
- Often allude to the aphorisms and semi-truths of non-Christian philosophies, ideologies, and world religions which are intentional in derailing you from truth.
The “More Effort” Message
If you don’t have peace, it isn’t because someone took it from you; you gave it away. You cannot always control what happens to you, but you can control what happens in you.– John C. Maxwell
Both of the above quotes sound nice, but what does each quote imply that you should do? Be in control; be strong inside. There’s nothing here of Christ strengthening you in the inner man (Eph. 3:16; Ps. 27:14; Is. 40:29-31). This is not the direction the Christian should be looking. Needs popping up in your life have a value in driving you to more of Christ and God’s provision instead of to more self-sufficiency.
Your inner strength is your outer foundation.– Allan Rufus
The Goals of Self and Soul
This quote, along with the plethora of popular urgings to be good to yourself, are all about self, the soul-life, the self-life:
We are told that instead, in light of what is being lavishly offered in the coming of the Kingdom and the gift of Life He is giving, that he who loses his self [lit. soul] for my sake will find it, and he who seeks to cling to his own self [his soul] will lose it.
Before you find your soul mate, you must first discover your soul.– Charles F. Glassman
A better quote:
He is no fool who gives what he can’t keep to gain what he cannot lose.– Jim Elliott, missionary killed by tribesmen in Ecuador
Life is like a sandwich!
Birth as one slice,
and death as the other.
What you put in-between
the slices is up to you.– Alan Rufus
But good news – you don’t have to spend your whole life in the ominous shadow of your impending death (John 11:26; Heb. 2:14-15). What you do in this life is hardly up to you, but up to the One to whom your life belongs (Eph. 2:10; Rom. 12:1-2; James 4:13-15).
He who has a why to live can bear almost any how. – Fredrick Nietzsche
This source is, of course, a bit suspect, being the philosopher behind the Nazi regime as well as the man who said “God is dead.” Perhaps the better quote would be, “I don’t need to know the why if I know the Who.” That is, ultimate meaning (‘the why’) is not logistical, but relational. There is inherent meaning in all the actions that God has toward me and all things find their meaning in my life as they are interpreted relative to Christ.
Human Achievement of Virtue
So there’s not really anything wrong with the above quote – the recommended product is certainly admirable. In response to it, what should you do? Try harder? Have better values? Ignore a lot of things you thought were important and take on new ones?
At the end of life, what really matters is not what we bought but what we built; not what we got but what we shared; not our competence but our character; and not our success, but our significance. Live a life that matters; live a life of love.– Author Unknown
Living a life of love is not something you simply decide. You just do not have the resources – there are reasons why you are not already doing that – your fears, your selfishness, your pride, etc.
Typically people will simply take their old motives and use them to propel new habits or rules. Romans 10:3 is an exposé of that reshuffling. What we most deeply need is righteousness – God gives us what we most deeply need in His Son. In the gospel, the righteousness of God is revealed in Romans 1:16-17. That’s what this, and so many similar quotes, are failing to tell you.
In our struggle for freedom, truth is the only weapon we possess.–The Dalai Lama
Again, because of the source, it’s a bit hard to tell what he’s referring to. The Buddhist idea of freedom is complete dismissal of all desire. The reality is that you are a being full of desire – that’s your heart. God invites you to love Him with all of your heart (all of your desire); which, of course, would mean nothing if you have no desire, no heart. This is nothing less than the denial of your human-ness; a dive into meaninglessness. I don’t know what ‘truth’ he could be referring to, but I do know that Jesus said, “…I am the truth.”
This, and virtually all example quotes from the world’s religions are counterfeit. They have an intention behind them, and that intention is well-served by their words – they are designed to hide the truth of Scripture from you. There is no big threat from words that are obviously wrong. It’s those that sound nice, that have some good thoughts mixed in, that are dangerous, and intend to lead you into confusion and away from the light of Scripture.
Not only is there often a right and wrong, but what goes around does come around, Karma exists, chickens do come home to roost, and as my mother, Phyllis, liked to say, ‘There is always a day of reckoning.– Donald Van de Mark
First of all, Karma doesn’t exist. Not only is there ultimate judgment of all things after death (Heb. 9:27), but the believer has passed entirely out of judgment into life (John 5:24). In practice, you find that the Lord is indeed lord of all things and literally gets you out of any scrape, including mistakes and wrong-doings.
What is Success?
A lion’s share of personal development quotes are about success. Although you could apply them to things of heaven, things that God would genuinely want you to pursue, they do need to be interpreted that way, as they generally are intended to point you to success in material and temporal things (Col 3:1-2; Phil. 3:13-14).
The difference between success and mediocrity is all in the way you think.”– Dean Francis
… particularly in what you think success is.
So what ought success to be? How ought it to be pursued? How can we tell genuine from the counterfeit? These and other questions you might want to explore more fully for your own life. Christian counseling can be helpful in incorporating truths from theory into real life.
Christian counseling can address any number of needs, but has a foundation in the goals and values of heaven. If you have counseling needs or just would like some life coaching that is about life that is in Christ, our counselors would love to work with you toward those goals. Call our offices if you would like to start with an intitial risk-free session to pursue personal development more avidly.
“Stretch,” courtesy of Autumn Goodman, unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Study,” courtesy of kiwihug, unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Keep climbing,” courtesy of Bruno Nascimento, unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Grow,” courtesy of qinghill, unsplash.com, CC0 License