Self improvement versus God improvement

“Self improvement” is one of the many ways that the PUAs and other lifestyle manosphere sites use to build an “attractive man” that women want to be around. However, “self improvement” at its core is obviously about the self. It is inherently selfish and prideful. Therefore, we eschew it because that is not what God has called us to.

The mindset, however, is indeed correct. We must understand as Christians that things we may do and things the world may do may look similar, but we do them for different purposes and intents. This will become more clear as I talk about this further.

One of the big things about “self improvement” in the manosphere is getting men to exercise and build a muscular physique. On the surface, this seems relatively innocuous, but it’s looking at things from the wrong lens.

For example, let’s examine the most recent missions trip that I went on.

Because I workout and exercise regularly, I was able to help out with some of the more difficult manual labor tasks in regard to construction of a feeding center and school. This is beneficial for the kingdom of God.

Obviously, it would be a lie to say that I would just work out to be able to assist the kingdom of God better wherever I go, and that I don’t care about what I look like. But, it is at least a start.

Our motivations for “God improvement” should therefore come from what we know in Scripture. Matthew 28 is a clear command to all Christians. Therefore, the question I must ask for myself over anything that I do is,

How does doing X,Y,Z make me a better ambassador for Christ?

This is the lens of how we are to examine our actions and motivations.

Like it or not, appearances do matter.

All non-Christians in the US know that gluttony is a sin. Therefore, as a witness to those non-Christians should I eat correctly and exercise? You betcha.

The discipline acquired from regularly scheduling exercise and discipline yourself in eating does extend towards Scripture. The more self control you have the easier it is to exercise self control.

Again, the problem with most Christian nice guys is not actions and words, it is mindset.

Although having a system with examples would be nice.[1]

Parables are not understood by unbelievers because they do not have the correct frame of reference. Even Christians that have been Christians for 40-50 years can find new concepts and teachings within parables because of gaining a greater understanding (mindset) of who God is and how He works through people and relationships.

Is surfing the internet when I’m bored making me a better ambassador for Christ? No. What value is there in that?

Is working out and eating correctly making me a better ambassador for Christ? Yes.

1 Timothy 4:8 For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.

Is meditating, reading the Scriptures, praying, fasting, etc. making me a better ambassador for Christ? Yes.

Is learning how to talk with men and women of all ages well without stuttering making me a better ambassador for Christ? Yes. Christianity is all about relationships. How you grow in a relationship with God and with your brothers and sisters in Christ.

Is learning a new hobby and mastering it making me a better ambassador for Christ? Yes, if you can make friends and eventually share the gospel with them, or develop increased fellowship with your brothers and sisters in Christ.

Everyone knows that public speaking is a learned skill. Almost no one is good at it when they start. Can improvement in public speaking make you a better ambassador for Christ? Absolutely.

Is learning how to converse with others effective going to make you a better ambassador for God? Surely.

“Self improvement” as a Christian is not wrong because of the “improvement” but because of the “self.”

However, the biggest trap that a Christian man may fall into is that he may get too focused on the improvement “itself,” and neglect to leverage any of the improvement for the gospel or to obey God.

This is the difference between me telling my brothers in Christ to eat right and workout because it will make them more attractive to women, but to eat right and workout because God hates gluttony and slothfulness. Intentions matters. The fact that it may make women more attracted is just a nice side effect of obeying God’s commands.

As I talked about in the Foundations of Christian Masculinity,  it is the heart for God or the heart for self that matters.

foundationofgodlymasculinity2

Therefore, strip off the old habits which are fruitless. Those of laziness, watching TV, surfing the Internet, being fearful of men and women, and the like. And put on new habits to embrace the calling of an ambassador for Christ.

Set your heart on God, and grow in a way that will nurture  — or as the PUAs say… bring value to — His kingdom.

Even if you only give a part of your self “improvement” to God, He will take what you give Him and use it for his glory. Then you will know what it means to know that He first called you, and be willing to give him your most important resource that you own: time.

Know this, God can redeem “self” improvement for Himself. So it is not a sunk cost.

In conclusion, it is therefore important to know what gifts God has called you to as well as your mission/occupation in life apart from the gospel so as to be excellent in all that you do and to know what you may need to work on to grow as a new creation in Christ.

As was stated earlier, improvement that the PUAs may do such as workout, eat healthy, read a lot, etc. may look similar to what we should be doing as Christians. These habits are not bad because they are focused on the self and how to leverage it for sleeping with women. First and foremost, intention matters to God.

A Christian man leveraging improvement to get a wife is not seeking God first but focusing on the “self.”

Colossians 3:2 Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.

[1] I will be posting more examples later on, and perhaps with a collaboration we will make it into a book/system.

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9 Responses to Self improvement versus God improvement

  1. Pingback: Christian masculinity, mastery, the internal and the external | Reflections on Christianity and the manosphere

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  6. smilinghope says:

    Reblogged this on Praying Loving Living Striving and commented:
    Good read! It’s eye-opening … What are our intentions in doing the things we do? How do we use our time?

  7. Jonathan says:

    Awesome.

  8. PrinceNerdy says:

    Awesome post. I agree on the most part that it is possible to use a blessing from God to curse the flesh and thus also curse the source, that is something we have be cautious about. However, self-improvement is not entirely evil nor sinful, it depends how it is approached or in this case, understood. For i believe that the more you know yourself, consciously improve your bad habits and make yourself, acceptable to yourself, the less pain, anxiety you feel will give you happiness in your heart. And when happiness, joy and love immerse you, you become automatically in love with all things. Think about it, how can you love GOD if you cannot find love within yourself? if you cannot love your neighbor. Realizing that the source of love, or the source of change that you want to see in this world should be you is a grand lesson. For JESUS said that the Kingdom of GOD is in all our hearts, but we first need to harness our hearts in our hands and find love!

  9. Robin Munn says:

    @PrinceNerdy –

    And when happiness, joy and love immerse you, you become automatically in love with all things. Think about it, how can you love GOD if you cannot find love within yourself?

    Careful. This sounds like it could have come straight out of the mouth of Joel Osteen, or Oprah Winfrey, or the many other modern “teachers” peddling self-centered (rather than God-centered) philosophies. And when you start to sound like them, be VERY careful, because that’s a clue that you’re getting it badly wrong. And indeed, the above is exactly backwards, as usual with the messages people like Osteen or Winfrey are pushing.

    It is not love of self that pushes one to love God. Prisons are full of people who love themselves — who love only themselves, in fact, and had no love for the 7-11 cashier they shot during an armed robbery, or the woman they raped, or the innocent victim they defrauded. No, it is clear-sightedly seeing oneself as a sinner in need of repentance that will push you to love God more: “For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret,” 2 Corinthians 7:10. Or Paul’s own humble admission that he was “the very least of all the saints” in Ephesians 3:8. Or his confession of habitual sin, and gratefulness to God who enables him to overcome it, in Romans 7:24-25 — “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!”

    PrinceNerdy, the philosophies you have been listening to, and the teachers you are following, are leading you astray. They are teaching the opposite of the truth, couched in vague, fuzzy-sounding “good feelings” language — but their teachings are junk food for the soul, which gives the illusion of food but can never actually nourish you. I urge you to seek out the real Truth in God’s Word, that can truly change hearts and lives — as the placebo that Osteen, Winfrey et al offer can never do. Jesus said, in John 8:31-32, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (Emphasis mine, of course). And in case any of his disciples didn’t understand what he meant, he later explained to them, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.” (John 14:6, again with emphasis mine).

    The Truth. Seek out the real thing, and accept no substitutes.

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