I have a friend who reads a lot of self-help books. It’s quite handy because she usually shares the best bits with me and they often contain profound insights and practical ideas for better living.
The problem is, no matter how many she reads, no matter how many good strategies and paradigm-shifts she experiences, there remain deep-seated needs that aren’t met.
Perhaps the key is in the label: self-help. It’s a contradiction, an oxymoron: when we rely only on ourselves to fix ourselves, we ultimately fail… and if we rely on Another, then we’re no longer doing it ourselves!
We need to be fixed by the One who created us, the One who has done what it really takes to save us, the One who will exchange our brokenness for His wholeness.
Yes, we’ll need help throughout our earthly lives. Yes, we should seek to mature and grow in Christlikeness. Yes, sometimes self-help books will provide useful strategies and ways of thinking that are incredibly useful in our day to day living, or even our health and wellbeing. Many contain principles that align with godly wisdom.
But we need more: we need Jesus. Self-help books might help a bit, but will never be enough to fix our core problem. The one book that’s an exception is the Bible, but that’s all about the truth that we can’t help ourselves! And it’s more than words on a page: it is the Word become flesh, wonderfully, mysteriously embodied in Christ Jesus Himself. He was there in the beginning, He’s with us here and now, and He’ll be with us always in eternity.
We all need help. Let’s seek it first in Jesus. We can seek His help in everything, knowing that nothing is too small or insignificant for His care.
… and in case you’re interested, my top picks for Christian ‘self-help’ books are:
· Gordon MacDonald, Ordering Your Private World. The best time management book I’ve ever read. Twice.
· Cloud & Townsend, Boundaries. Brilliant.
· Glynnis Whitwer, Taming Your To-Do List. Surprisingly helpful, especially in the distinction between tasks and projects.
· Stephen Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Maybe not officially Christian but grounded in godly wisdom; a bestseller which has infiltrated the language of many who haven’t even read it.