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Christianity and NLP
Part of a series of short articles focusing on NLP's relevance to each of the major world religions.
One of the questions I am asked most frequently is, "Is NLP appropriate for Christians?" Often, the deeper concern is whether it is appropriate for Christians to take an active role in their own personal development using the best and latest tools available, and whether this can be done in a way which is humble before God and respects, honors and supports their Faith.
In answer to all of these questions, there is good news. Many Christians have made powerful use of NLP's life affirming, respectful approach and found that it powerfully enhances their connection and relationship with God. NLP is entirely appropriate for Christians.
Part of the reason is that NLP puts spirituality at the top of its "neurological levels" – an advanced model of our internal levels which organize our thinking, feeling and acting, and which have profound effects on our health and peace of mind:
- Beliefs & Values
Time and again I've noted that NLP training, coaching and therapy clients who are Christians flourish in the affirmation of their Faith and healthy self-concept through the application of NLP to the achievement of their goals and the resolution of their problems.
Why? I believe it is because they begin with a solid spiritual foundation – their identities are already held in the context of Faith in God and the meaning which Christianity brings to their lives.
The Bible encourages us to use the gifts God has given us to improve our hearts and minds so that we can move closer to God and lead lives that are joyfully fulfilled. NLP gives us exceptional tools to make those improvements.
The following quotes from The Bible (ESV – English Standard Version) illustrate the profound relevance of NLP to a God centered life.
The Renewal of Your Mind
"Be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect." – Romans 12:2
The renewal of your mind and the ability to make appropriate changes for the good are the precise focus of NLP. As your mind is renewed and transformed, you will be better able to test your own experience and discern your role in God's will.
Psychology has often filled this role for Christians during the last 50 years. But psychology is a model of "disorders." By its design and practice, it pathologizes us. Its focus is properly the treatment of mental disease.
Yet however many problems we may have – and God has a way of presenting us with many challenges – most of us are not suffering from mental illness and do not need a psychiatrist or any of the over-prescribed pills that are proffered as treatments for nearly anything that bothers us.
NLP's model is exactly the opposite of psychology in nearly every way. It is one precisely of transformation by the renewal of your mind. It is wholly positive in its approach, it is a model of health and excellence, and it brings the most advanced tools to the process of transformation.
Taking an Active Approach
"Work out your own salvation, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure." – Philip. 2:12-13
"In other words, we are co-laborers with God in working out our salvation. Though his part is primary, we have an indispensable, distinct part also. We are stewards of our own salvation and sanctification. ...There is an active role for us to play in our spiritual and emotional growth." – Cloud & Townsend
It is appropriate to be an active participant in your own growth and development, not in a selfish or narcissistic way, but with humility of purpose and with the understanding that it is God who works in you.
NLP is a very active approach. In NLP training, coaching and therapy, you are not a passive "patient" or silent listener to the analyses or diagnoses of others. It is you who are active in your spiritual and emotional growth. The explorations you make are the ones you undertake, and your relationship with God is strengthened as you actively make changes for the good.
Using the Brain God Gave You
"Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them." – Romans 12:6
Your brain is one of the greatest gifts God has ever given any creature. He didn't give it to you for nothing. He wants you to use it. Learn how it works, and work with it the way God designed it to work. Nothing gives you fuller access to the full capabilities of your mind-body and emotions than NLP. NLP encourages you to make the most of all your gifts as God intended.
First Clean the Inside
"First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean." – Jesus, Matthew 23:26
This is NLP's approach – a gentle and powerful way of cleansing the inside of your cup from confusion, conflicts and turmoil in accordance with Jesus' instructions to the Pharisees.
Jesus' point was that people so often, when they seek change, healing, or the improvement of their condition, look to the outside world for solutions.
We see it all the time. People feel bad so they buy stuff. They purchase distractions, status symbols, image supplies, toys, and "magical" solutions. They will spend $30,000 on a new car, but not one penny on improving themselves, their relationships, or their inner life experience. They put anything and everything before working on what is inside.
And when they do look inward, what they find is like a dirty cup. People wouldn't dream of serving dinner to guests on a dirty plate. But when it comes to their own actions in the world, their relationships and their behaviors, that is what they do, in effect, because they haven't first taken care of their internal selves.
People are always pleasantly surprised when they decide to work on cleaning their internal cup with NLP. Why? Because they find that the inside of the cup is much easier to clean than they imagined. They find that they don't have to drag themselves through the muck in order to get clean. They can clean things up and experience all the benefits, inside and out, quickly and with relative ease.
"Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup." – 1 Cor. 11:28
NLP is a positive method of self-examination. It provides a comprehensive approach, from the inside to the outside. The benefits of examining yourself in a positive and effective way, in the context of your Faith in God, include a fuller integration of your Faith into every aspect of your life experience.
Replacing the Salt
"Salt is good, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is of no use either for the soil or for the manure pile. It is thrown away. He who has ears to hear, let him hear." – Jesus, Luke 14:34-35
Old and limiting patterns of thinking, feeling and behaving are like salt that has lost its taste. They are no longer useful.
Meanings we derived from experiences when we were younger may no longer serve us well in the present and future. We are more resourceful and experienced now, having grown and learned since our younger days. Yet those old patterns – the tasteless salt – will stay with us until we replace them with something better.
NLP provides us with extraordinary tools for replacing them with healthier patterns that empower us and enable us to move forward to a brighter future.
"Speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love." – Ephes. 4:15-16
NLP addresses every part of us, body, mind and emotions, and gives us the means to integrate them so that each works properly, as part of our whole self, allowing us to grow in love.
This type of integration is unique to NLP because NLP addresses it directly, instead of leaving it to chance. Integration is always an important part of every NLP exploration, discovery and change.
"Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things." – Philip. 4:8
Our life's energy flows where our attention goes. NLP focuses on excellence – excellence of thought, excellence of intent, excellence of feeling, behavior and performance. By turning our attention in powerfully consistent ways to the best within us and in the world around us, our lives are immeasurably enriched and transformed.
I hope you have found these few quotes and comments helpful in thinking about NLP in the Christian context.
Please feel welcomed to call me and discuss how NLP training, coaching and therapy can help you.
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