Stephen Covey's Book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People

Stephen Covey has earned millions of dollars during the past few years through sales of his book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People In addition, Covey conducts seminars about how to develop these habits. Corporations hire Covey to promote his philosophy in seminars. Many of those spending money to hear from Covey are Christians. His book is a self-help guide to achieving success, peace, and happiness. While he may have some useful things to say, Christians should be aware that the book is laced with Mormon and New Age philosophies.

Recently, one of our newsletter recipients forwarded to me a letter he had sent to Christian Book Distributors, one of the largest mail order companies targeting Christians. Thousands of pastors and countless laymen order books from CBD. My friend wrote CBD to complain that they were carrying the book and thereby sponsoring Covey and his ideas. He also sent me what he correctly described as the "pablum" response from CBD. The letter made it pretty obvious that the book would remain in stock. (Their address, should you care to write to them is, CBD, Box 7000, Peabody, MA 01961)

The biggest problem with the self-help genre is that it directs people on a fruitless path of attempting to fixing themselves. This is the role of the genre. It also is the role of the New Age Movement. Certainly it is the role of Mormonism. All "religion," in fact, has as its goal, the reformation of the flesh. This mistaken philosophy is based in the erroneous assumption that people can make themselves–through an effort of their will–good enough to please God. For Christians such reformation (or outward holiness) is a byproduct of salvation–not the method for attaining salvation. Genuine spiritual healing comes from hearing and believing the message God sent to us in scripture and which he finally revealed to us in His Son.

Revelation, not restoration is the first step in our progress towards becoming fully "fixed."

Therefore, all the self-help books in the world simply entertain us with twiddling with our humanity when what we really need is an instantaneous, full makeover–which can only be done by God Himself. When our hearts are made new by God, our habits and actions will change from the inside out. As we come to know Jesus, we are transformed by that relationship.

As the Bible says:

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect [or contemplate] the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. (II Cor. 3:17-18)

Covey's suggestions on self-improvement would not be bad if they worked, but they don't–not in the long run. Again, the Bible instructs us:

Since you died with Christ to the basic principles of this world, why, as though you still belonged to it, do you submit to its rules: "Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!"? These are all destined to perish with use, because they are based on human commands and teachings. Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence. (Col. 2:20-23)

A major premise of The Seven Habits has to do with one’s paradigm or life–the person's worldview, which he calls the basic set of assumptions about life that filter all of our perceptions of life, and color our understanding of all of life. (page 23) The problem, however, is Covey's own paradigm, Mormonism, is itself rooted in self-help and the occult. Mormonism produces people constantly striving to become perfect, but falling short.

To some this striving is noble. However, it actually is pitiful and fruitless, and eventually very discouraging. Mormonism is simply another attempt to fix up the flesh to make it acceptable to God. This is the exact opposite of the Gospel message which says that rather than wear ourselves out trying to become good enough for God we should simply trust our lives into His hands and have Him order our lives and change us. He says to us:

Come unto me, all [ye] that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke [is] easy, and my burden is light. (Matt 11: 28-30)

The Bible tells us that when the root is right the fruit will be right. You don't bring a dead cherry tree to life by pinning plastic cherries on it. Likewise, you do not reform the Old human nature by fixing it up. You need a new life to be born within you [the born again experience]. Then the New nature will grow and the Old nature will wither. Again the Bible:

He also said, "This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground.

and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. All by itself the soil produces grain --first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. (Mark 4:27-28)

Mormonism is supposed to be a way to reach God; but it is a way which does not work. In a sense, Mormonism is no different than the Judaism of the Apostle Paul's day. To those "judaizers" he said:

1 ¶ Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. (Rom. 10:1-3)

Stephen Covey is doubtless doing the best he can. But he is shoveling sand against the tide. In the end, he will realize that he is really no better off–in eternal terms–than he was when he began his self-improvement efforts.

For a similar sentiment, I recommend listening to my tape "Romans Seven." You can listen to it on my web site (where it is entitled "Taming Bratzilla."