When I originally sat down to write my book, Redefine Rich, I was intent on making it more about the principles rather than the faith behind them. Besides, that would make it more palatable for a crossover audience and more likely for me to get a publishing contract. Appealing to the genre of Personal Development was safe, calculated, and practical. But as my writing continued, I couldn’t escape the elements of faith that were revealed. I casually dismissed the nudges until I was diagnosed with spreading malignant melanoma during the final stages of publishing. Then, I became keenly aware that something much bigger and much deeper was happening—something I could no longer ignore. It was as if everything prior had happened for this distinct purpose and couldn’t have possibly happened any other way. If the world was calling me to be effective, God was calling me to be faithful. I chose the latter. It was scary and unplanned, but absolutely liberating. Since that time, I’ve given up any hope of trying to logically explain what I’ve only come to know by faith.
However, I quickly learned that corporate America is quick to reject anything “faith-based” for fear of religious discrimination. As a speaker, I was often asked if my message was overtly “religious” as event planners were hesitant to make a potential misstep in hiring me to speak for fear someone would be offended. I still don’t understand how to answer that question, but always promise not to throw Bibles at people or try to lay hands on their employees.
I find it curious that despite their hesitations, many of these organizations pray before their meetings and many of their employees profess a Christian faith. It’s as if they’re willing to pray, but unwilling to talk about the God they’re praying to. Or, they’re willing to go to church on Sunday, but unwilling to bring faith into their work week. As a result, we have collectively and individually dismissed faith as a practical option for our navigation and opted for the wisdom of the world instead. And we pay handsomely for that trade.
This past year, more than sixty billion dollars was spent on personal development. But if you look at the statistics, the majority of those consumers remain unchanged. Why is that? Perhaps it’s because time kills our motivation if it’s not tethered to a deeper sense of purpose—purpose that can only be discovered by faith. Without faith, we live in a perpetual cycle of consumer-driven motivation where our chief aim is not our purpose, but the avoidance of pain and our practical effectiveness. I think we’re making a terrible mistake if we express a disinterest to explore the impact of faith development, despite a great interest in what we culturally refer to as personal development.
Now, I understand the need to be prudent in this area—to deeply respect the religious freedom of others—but, it’s not my agenda as a Christian to undermine or convince anyone. I simply share what I have learned from experience as a way to provide perspective for others. From there, it’s their responsibility to continue and God’s responsibility to do what He has promised—that is the journey of faith.
So why are we so adamantly opposed to welcoming faith as the foundation of our lives?
Perhaps it’s the stigma of religion, but if you take an honest look at some of the greatest personal development minds of our time—Zig Ziglar, Andy Andrews, John Maxwell, Jim Collins, Jim Rohn—they all profess a Christian faith. And while their books may be traditionally listed under the “personal development” heading, thus making it safe for our corporate palate and for the publishing companies to make money, what’s really beneath their principles?
The answer is faith.
The Influence of Faith on The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
By way of example, I have taken Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and sought the truth lying underneath—the influence of faith on the Habits shared. Before we go any further, remember this is simply an exercise—one I hadn’t actually intended to complete myself. But as I did, I found it incredibly helpful in bridging the gaps in my mind, where I saw the concepts of faith development that we so often overlook. This isn’t a condemnation of personal development but rather a call for us to not just welcome the magic wand, but press in to the magic behind it all.
Whether you’re willing to receive truth at the surface level covered in principles or whether you’re willing to engage it at the deeper level of faith is up to you, but don’t make the error of pretending like you have no room for faith.
A Word on Habits
I think it’s important to note that Stephen Covey chose the word Habit instead of Principles because habits are the actionable byproduct of what we believe. Principles can exist in our heads, but if they never make their way into our hearts, they will remain actionless and we will remain unchanged. For example, we believe that going to the gym will help us maintain a healthy lifestyle, but it is that belief, along with the feeling of being in shape or the social approval we encounter, that causes us to develop a habit of working out. Likewise, we believe good communication facilitates a healthy organization, but it is that belief, along with a desire for success, that causes us to create the habit of regular conversations with our employees.
While some might see faith as a passive, inactive hope, true faith is belief combined with action. And that faith can easily be seen by the habits we maintain. Where we fail is in refusing to slow down long enough to analyze our habits, what’s actually driving them, and if they line up with what we truly believe. It’s like the daughter who cuts the end off of the Christmas ham only because her mother did. When questioned about it, the daughter asked her mom, who answered, “Well, I did it because your grandmother always did.” Finally, when the daughter asked her grandmother, her grandmother responded, “I always cut the end off of the ham because my pan was too small.”
We are byproducts of our habits. Our habits are byproducts of our actions. Our actions are byproducts of our beliefs. In essence, our faith is the driving factor and the foundation behind what we do and who we are becoming—it is the engine beneath our habits. Unless we’re willing to give that faith an honest welcome and develop it accordingly, we might become something very different than what we intended.
A Word on Effectiveness
Next, I want to take a look at the word Effectiveness by posing this question:
What’s more important, to live effectively or to live with purpose?
This isn’t to say effectiveness and purpose are mutually exclusive; we just can’t forsake one at the expense of the other—or accept one and reject the other. Again, it’s not the concept itself but our willingness to place it on the throne of our hearts that presents a problem. That’s precisely why the five regrets of the dying don’t include, “I wish I would have lived more effectively.” In fact, quite the opposite. But it doesn’t take us getting to the end of the road to realize there’s more to life than living it effectively.
The challenge is that we get so consumed with effectiveness and inadvertently dismiss faith. If we’re unwilling to understand the purpose of our effectiveness, we might end up with the wrong pursuit. I think the point is to understand both effectiveness and purpose need to work in harmony—a harmony that can only be completed by faith.
In the coming days, I will unpack the 7 Habits from a deeper perspective and bring the convictions of faith into the conversation. Subscribe to our mailing list to learn more. In addition, our first “faith development” resource is a interactive booklet called Learning to Feel the Word and can be purchased by clicking here.
YouPrint is a faith development organization founded by partners Matt Ham and Kevin Adams. Resources include live speaking events, personal mentoring, and interactive books that help folks get unstuck, live with purpose, and discover their very own YouPrint.