Some Thoughts on Personal Development

I enjoy trying to develop myself into becoming all that God created me to be… not to mention whom Christ redeemed me to be (to the degree that I understand it). My time in God’s Word yesterday, however, gave me great caution. Proverbs 3:5-6 reminded me who it is I need to trust, listen to, and rely on in this journey.

It occurred to me that I need to work especially hard to ensure that “developing myself” doesn’t become “self-help,” if by that what is meant is, “self-reliance,” “self-dependence,” “self-trusting,” etc.

It is God alone who is sovereign. It is God who loves me more than I love myself. It is God who is all-knowing and all-wise and who knows me infinitely better than I know myself. Not only that, he is the One who has designed me, gifted me, and he is the One who has called me to be his own and to serve him as his follower. With all of that and more being true, how and why could and would I want to trust in myself?

Instead, God is my Power and my Strength. He is my Guide, Counselor, and Shepherd. He is my Provider, Encourager, Comforter, and Caregiver. That is certainly why Proverbs 3:5-6 directs me to…

Trust in the Lord with all [my] heart and lean not on [my] own understanding; in all [my] ways [I must] acknowledge him, and he will make [my] paths straight.”

And so: Should I still pursue personal development? Of course. Every page of Scripture seems to exhort and encourage us to continue growing and maturing and becoming all that God has created us to be. And we know that he who began a good work in us will not stop molding and shaping us until we are complete (Philippians 1:6). We were, after all, purposed to bear the likeness of Christ (Romans 8:29).

I am called to work out what God has worked into me (by his grace, in the power of his Spirit, and directed by his Word).

This is all I’m seeking to accomplish by pursuing personal development. I’m grateful that many of the resources available for personal development are very helpful in this pursuit (via common grace). There are, however, some resources that are a bit “mystical” and spiritually vapid at best, and false at worst. Therefore, biblical vigilance is required. That is why I will trust in the Lord and not lean upon my own understanding. I will acknowledge him and his ways and follow his leading.

Thanks be to God,

PS – Yesterday morning, my Sunday School class had a great discussion on the very theme of this devotion. I shared Colossians 1:29 as a key text on this theme. I give thanks to God for that discussion with my brothers and sisters in Christ. I am also grateful that God is continually working on me, in me, and through me. To paraphrase Paul, may I continue to labor and struggle in this pursuit, with all of his energy and strength, which so powerful works in me.


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