I recently read that “self development is the key to success, fulfillment and worth”, although I could see what was meant I still wondered how they could believe it was ‘the’ key. It was only as God led me to look more deeply into the concept of personal/self development that I found that it’s truest meaning is not necessarily what we equate it with in today’s society.
There are 3 ways that we can broadly view personal development/self-development:
- The business definition of personal development states that “it is the process of improving your skills and increasing the amount of experience that you have in your job”. This is an extremely functional and focused definition. (Cambridge Business English Dictionary)
- The personal excellence approach focuses on helping you define and identify the meaning of excellence and then helping you to achieve it in the desired part(s) of your life. Personal excellence is very much linked to tangible success in life areas such as work, relationships and even health.
- The self development approach, the Oxford English Dictionary defines self development as “the process by which a person’s character or abilities are gradually developed”. The focus of this approach is on developing innate qualities of the individual.
All three perspectives have been picked up by the personal development industry, due to a realisation that people have a desire to not only better themselves but to do so in a way that is fulfilling in purpose and value.
Yet even though personal development is important, taking course after course to improve your abilities, knowledge and even character is not enough to fill one with a deep sense of joy and peace. Man has a thirst for more, to experience more and to be more which can not be quenched by personal development courses. True personal development starts from a very deep place, the most ancient of places.
In my healing journey, I have been at the place of wanting to do course after course to build up my knowledge and understanding, every course seemed to promise me new life changing insight to do the things I wanted to do with my life but they never did; but something amazing happened when God stepped into my life, His words to me were simple yet profound:
Stop doing and simply be
The problem with most definitions of personal/self-development is that they focus on what we want, what we believe we need and what we feel we should be doing in order to get to our desired endpoint. For example if I want to run a multi-national company, common sense tells me that I need to go to Business school to develop my knowledge and abilities so that I can excel in doing business. Self-development is often about physical goals and objectives but this is only a small portion of what true self-development is all about. When we focus on developing ourselves in this way we can get so caught up in our busyness that we forget to stop and simply be.
I’m a big advocate of stopping and learning to be, because this is what God has taught me. He is the ‘I AM’ and we are made in His likeness to also be. It’s not easy to stop, I can tell you that for sure; sometimes it’s even hard to recognise that you need to! As long as there are no red lights in your road of life it’s often just easier to keep on pedalling that bike, isn’t it? Stopping comes when we realise that all our busyness is vanity if it doesn’t help us to become who we are meant to be. This isn’t about our role, our profession, our job or anything else we might accept as a label, it’s about who we are deep down inside, our ‘I am’.
It is God’s will for us to simply be, living in the joy of how He created us, “fearfully and wonderfully”. Each soul is unique and the more we get to know our true self and share it with others the more joy and peace we will feel. No self-development course can teach you how to be you, only YHWH because He created you.
For me it’s not about our personal development but the journey of growth and maturity that God desires to lead us on so that we can become who we truly are in Him. It is a journey of deep self-discovery which will be painful at times, empowering at others, but in all liberating and truly healing. We may meet others along our road to healing that God wants to use to bless us in our lives but whether we do or not is because this is the way it’s supposed to be, a season for all things under the sun.
I strongly believe that the more we know about our true self, the more we will truly develop, not based on goals, desires or objectives but based on simply learning to become more of who we are called to be.
So, let’s focus on learning to simply be.
“Restoration doesn’t happen instantly”
~ Debbie Lyle Simmons