The popular era of Christian self-help gurus is
extraordinarily perplexing to me. It
didn’t start with Joel Osteen, though he typically is regarded as the modern
godfather of the movement. It’s
perplexing because Biblical Christian teaching is fundamentally at odds with
any notion of self-help. Perhaps I
should rephrase that. Biblical Christian
teaching is focused on establishing the enduring truth that the only “help” our
“self” can get is by putting it to death.
Christ never tells us to esteem ourselves. He tells us to “kill” ourselves and find new
life in Him. Only by putting to death
our selfish ambitions, vain conceit, and our impassioned desires to make this
life all about our own dreams and goals, can we find liberation and real,
lasting, meaningful “help.”
It’s not that I oppose Osteen’s message to smile more and
think positive thoughts. It’s that I
find such a message falls woefully short of the truth, and in fact imperils the
faith of many who falsely come to believe that God is in the business of
glorifying man. True Christianity isn’t
about living our best life now; it’s about sacrificing this life now so that we
can enjoy our best life later.
But if anything, Osteen’s success has spawned a multitude of
others peddling the same message. And it
appears he has an emerging female version in Christian self-help author Rachel
Hollis. Hollis gained fame for her first
New York Times bestseller Girl, Wash Your
Face. It was well-written, polished,
and easy-to-read, which only made its glaring theological deficiencies all the
And now, after building an impressive media company, a ridiculously
large following, and a global reputation as a motivational, self-help guru,
Hollis is back with a second book called Girl,
Stop Apologizing. Since I have not
read the book, I will not attempt to cast judgment upon its message or the
instruction it offers the fairer sex.
I will, however, admit that given Hollis’s track record, the
title of the book should give all believers cause for concern. After all, as Jen Oshman writes in her
fantastic review of the book:
Contrary to the message of Girl, Stop Apologizing, becoming the women we were meant to be starts with apologizing. It starts with the humble acknowledgement that we were made by a beautiful and holy God, and that we rebel against him in countless ways every day. It starts with recognizing that Jesus died and rose to rescue us. And as once-hopeless sinners who have been mercifully forgiven, it starts—and continues, and ends—with treasuring Christ above all.
Becoming the women we were created to be means following Jesus, believing in Jesus, living for Jesus—not ourselves.
Ditto that for men.
It’s alarming how that simple message is becoming increasingly blurred
by new age, self-help philosophy wrapped in Christian language.