March 19, 2019

42: The Key to Life

Everyone would like to live a life of purpose, meaning, joy, and success. We want to have clarity, inspiration, peace, and energy. We desire our relationships to be healthy, fulfilling, and satisfying. We want to feel confident, motivated, and productive. We want to be well-liked, happy, focused, and grateful.


Can you tell I’ve been reading a self-help book? I loathe self-help books, mainly because they are so focused on the self and our own innate human power to change our lives. But my confession is that I secretly love self-help books because they focus on me and my power to change myself.


As a believer in Christ who has been saved by grace, is being sanctified by grace, and will only be transformed into the image of Christ by grace, I know that self-help books are a theological no, no. But what I find paradoxical about self-help books is that they always contain some truth about who we are as people and what we want in life.


The first words of this podcast were not a direct quote but were taken from a secular book I am reading. Ok, I’ll come clean: the book is called High Performance Habits: How Extraordinary People Become that Way.” by Brendon Burchard. I often find myself feeling like I am “underperforming” at work and I especially don’t feel extraordinary. Therefore, I am drawn to these types of books like a bear to honey.


I think it is appropriate for us to seek to grow personally and professionally. We know that change is needed in certain areas of our lives, especially those areas that are being bogged down by the sin that resides in our hearts. But the big question is “how” will this change take place?


Will change take place merely through my own hard work?

Will change take place if I am able to force myself into creating new habits?

Will change take place if I find the right productivity tool?

Will change take place if forge the right relationships around me?


The answer is “maybe.” I might be able to make some changes in my life if I do those things. And there is nothing wrong with hard work, good habits, productivity tools or healthy relationships.


But, as a follower of Jesus, who is united to Him in an inseparable bond and have the Holy Spirit living in me, change will not take place in a deep and lasting way until God works in me. Let me just share one thought from the book and how it impacted me.


The book says that there are six habits that all high performers exhibit. The first one is “clarity.” You have to have clarity in your life about who you are and what you want to accomplish. After reading the first paragraph on this habit, I decided to stop and ask myself if I have clarity on who I am and what I want to accomplish.


It literally took me about thirty seconds to say, “yes, I know exactly who I am, and what I want to accomplish.” Clarity for me says, “I am a child of God by the grace of Jesus Christ and I seek to glorify God in all I do, say and think.”


And then this phrase popped into my mind:


“The key to life is to understand and apply the gospel of Jesus Christ as is found in the Holy Scriptures.”


This led me to a passage in Romans 15:4-5


“For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus…”


Now I was getting some serious clarity. But as you can see the clarity did not come from me just looking inside myself but rather me looking to Christ (who is in me) and to the Scriptures.


So, I will say that clarity is vitally important to living a life of impact but that clarity has to flow from the gospel which is at work within me. Not me at work within me. For it is the gospel that says,


  1. I was created in the image of God: this truth gives me purpose and meaning
  2. I rebelled and sinned against God and tried to live life on my own, separating myself from God: this truth tells me the harsh reality of what is wrong with me and what actually needs to change.
  3. God intervened and sent His Son Jesus to reconcile me back to himself by cleansing me from my sin and making me a new person: this truth tells me who I am now and gives me a “clear” understanding of what my life purpose will be and how lasting change and transformation will happen in me.


So, going back to the phrase that “popped” into my mind:

“The key to life is to understand and apply the gospel of Jesus Christ as is found in the Holy Scriptures.”

I will only find clarity, as well as the other five “high performance” habits if I am able to understand how the gospel transforms these particular areas of my life. And I will only understand the gospel when I diligently study the Scriptures.


So, if you find yourself drawn to self-help books, make sure you have been drawn to the gospel first. Because we all know it’s the gospel that changes everything!



Photo by Silas Köhler on Unsplash