Maturity requires us to commit to an ongoing journey of growth. And naturally we take advantage of the countless tips and self-improvement exercises available. But sometimes we fall victim to putting the cart before the horse, and all our self-help efforts are not actually helping. We must first be intentional about forming who we are before we can merely try to improve.
In many ways, this is like diet and exercise. We can spend a lot of time at the gym, but we won’t make meaningful gains if we’re not also feeding our body with what it needs. But working out will produce the results we desire when our body is given proper nutrition.
In the same way, it’s like working out on an empty stomach when we simply try to improve ourselves without first feeding ourselves with God’s truth, goodness, and beauty. We must first allow ourselves to be formed by God’s ultimate reality before our self-improvement efforts will have any benefit.
For instance, figuring out how to make more money or get promoted will bring little satisfaction if it’s not also aligned with the truth of why God created us. But we find great freedom, resourcefulness, and a deep satisfaction when we’ve been shaped by this truth.
Communication and other marriage enrichment skills will also eventually all fall flat when they’re not guided by the eternal principle of God’s love.
Likewise, it’s difficult to even have a vision of a better tomorrow without some standard of God’s beauty to inspire and guide us.
Whatever it looks like, we must feed on God’s reality and allow it to shape us before “self-help” will actually help. We’re running on fumes and just spinning our wheels otherwise.
In the end, be diligent to work and make yourself better. But remember your heart and soul must be first shaped by God’s reality for your self-help efforts to have any lasting benefit.