I’ve struggled for a while understanding why I would want to invest time into personal development. Perhaps my focus should be more on spiritual development or relationship development. It seemed selfish to listen to CD’s or read books that would make me a better person. However, when you shift the focus from “learning to help yourself” to “learning to help others” a new perspective opens up and we start to welcome personal development because of how we can help those around us.
Personal development in marriage
I, as a husband, have a lot to learn. When I understand, more fully, the roles given to me by God as a husband, I start to develop a thinking that is based around pleasing my wife. This isn’t to say that she is lord over me, but that she looks up to me and counts on me to be a leader and a provider. Thus, by enhancing the skills I already have and focusing them in a God-given direction, I am not merely developing myself but putting greater emphasis on my wife and the relationship we have.
Personal development as a father
My kids are wonderful. I just recently watched a video where my son finally discovered his shadow. My two girls are growing rapidly and the time seems to be escaping faster and faster. I have a very limited amount of time to make a difference in their lives. By developing myself personally as a father and understanding how to grow my children in the Lord and also as productive members of society, I am more interested in their own development than my own.
Personal development as a leader
Whether you want to admit it or not, we are all leaders. Even the person behind the checkout counter at Walmart is a leader; it is just left to be determined if they are a good one or a bad one. A good leader looks to positively influence those around them. Every time you come into contact with someone else you have the chance to be a leader. Albeit, in small ways, but a leader all the same. If you consciously make an effort to develop your leadership skills in how to positively influence and inspire people, then your focus is more on the people you are serving than yourself.
I used to be opposed to the saying, “God helps those who help themselves.” It always left a bad taste in my mouth because it seemed to leave the focus on the individual instead of those around you. However, I’m starting to see more and more the truth behind this statement, “God helps those who help themselves to better help others.” You don’t know what you don’t know and the more you know how to help others, the more you can help others. (redundant, but true) A counselor who has no personal skills in communication or conflict resolution will be hard-pressed to help anyone else. But someone who takes time to develop personal skills to help those around them will do a world of good!