Two men were escaping from their enemy. At one point they made a small make shift raft in a river so it would help pull them down stream. It was working pretty well until they realized there was a waterfall not to far in front of them. They suddenly panicked as the water current got stronger and was pulling them faster and faster to the edge of the deadly waterfall. With the sound of the waterfall haunting them they narrowly escaped as they desperately struggled to swim to the rivers edge.

This is how life is concerning self-development.

Let's clarify the meaning of self-development. The American Heritage Dictionary defines "self-development" as: Development of one's capabilities or potentialities. It also defines "development" as: To bring from latency to or toward fulfillment. And "latent" means: Present or potential but not evident or active.

Let's take a deeper look into the thought process of the two men escaping from their enemy. They weren't really trying to escape the enemy they were trying to regain their freedom. They were trying to get back what was stolen from them. Freedom was the puling force for them to purposely put them on the path of danger in the unknown jungle with unknown hindrances. It was the lost sense of being free of restraints, from slavery, detention and oppression.

Isn't this what we all are desiring? Emotional and spiritual freedom is what all mankind desires. In most cases people can't put their finger on it and move past the restraints that holds them to hopelessness, lethargy and pain. We could say we are the main characters in the movie of life. As believers we've been given a taste of true freedom. But in time many of us lost that "feeling" of freedom fell back into our old ways of living. We never really tapped into living life to the full as promised to us. We travel down the river of life following the current of the worlds thinking and experiencing a mediocre life at its deepest level. Never experiencing deep change or freedom from our own vices. Living in some sort of vague religiosity that promises freedom but only extends the length of the chains. Many of us know there is true substance to "Christian" living but because we never grasp the importance of "personal growth" and the application of it, we keep drifting along in the current of our past life. We may start to paddle against the current when we get a little to close to the waterfall of despair. We may hear a sermon or be moved by an intense movie or go through a divorce. But for the most part we don't paddle far enough away from the draw of the waterfall and continue in a cycle fighting the haunting rhetoric of despair designed to keep you on the edge of emotional and spiritual death.

Let's get one thing clear. "Personal or self-development" is not a replacement for Christ and the work that only He could do to reconcile us to God. It is a set of principles to help us, as the Apostle Paul says it, work out our salvation.

The waterfall represents the strength of the negative in our lives. The voice of of the fallen angels is in the waterfall. The voice of the unbelieving parent or spouse is in the waterfall. The voice of past personal injustice is in the waterfall and the voice of our own persecuting thoughts is in the waterfall. Just as the waters current forever pulls you toward the waterfall so do these voices pull you to the death of desire and hope.

But wait!

We don't have to follow the natural current of impoverished living. Following the current isn't a prerequisite for living out your desires and fulfilling the call on your life. There is an old saying that tells us we don't have an option. Remember this, "You're up the creek without a paddle."

On the contrary, we have options. But taking advantage of those options takes action. And many of us that have become believers have also become stagnant in our mission to cultivate, carry out to the goal, and fully complete your own salvation, as Paul says in Philippians.

Self-development is one option. And if we take the true meaning of the this word and take action, it simply means the process of making active your gifts, talents and abilities and ringing them to fulfillment. I call it "finding the call" for your life and doing what it takes to fulfill it. Don't get hung up on the word "self-development". It's not a bad word. It just happens to be a word that some people have twisted into metaphysical language. Just as we grow physically, we are to grow emotionally and spiritually. In relation to life, self-development is simply preparing yourself for the fulfillment of your calling or life work. Joseph, Moses and King David had to practice self- development in their lives. The original twelve Apostles had an intense self-development process for three years when with Christ. Self-development is a part of anybodies life who wants to achieve anything good in life. It also helps keep us away from the voices of the waterfall that have kept us from success and peace. Self-development is the paddle that we use to row against the current of mediocre living, the worlds thinking and self-loathing. It helps us to take a stand against the voices of the walking dead that try to transfuse into us the turmoil of hopelessness. The paddle of self-development stirs the waters of our dreams and desires and directs us to the fulfillment of those desires.

I encourage you to take action today. Read a book, take a class or join a club that will help you grow. Paddle against the current and move towards the fulfillment of the call on your life.

Andy