In 2011 Stephen R Covey was voted one of the fifty most influential management guru’s in America. His management and training programmes have influenced Christian leaders and his personal development books, such as 7 Habits for Highly Effective People,(SH) can be found on pastor’s book shelves. Stephen Covey, who died in July 2012, was a devout Mormon and people rightly ask how much his faith influenced his thinking and whether Christians ought to be influenced by him.
Bob Waldrep, president of Crosswinds Foundation for Faith and Culture wrote an insightful article for Watchman Fellowship addressing these questions. He describes the extensive Mormon influences as well as New Age thinking in Covey’s work. Below is an excerpt. You can read the full article here.
“[Stephen Covey’s] book, The Divine Center (DC) is about centering one's life in the god of Mormonism and reads like a LDS primer. In fact, it seems to be the basis for SH as many of the ideas Covey wrote in it in 1982 are included and built upon in the SH, published in 1989.
7 Habits is the author's way of conveying ideas previously presented in DC to a non-LDS audience. He advises fellow Mormons, "…we shouldn't hesitate to work within the vocabularies of others to communicate our meanings …we can teach and testify of many gospel principles if we are careful in selecting words which carry our meaning but come from their experience and frame of mind." (DC p. 240) This blurring of distinctions is a common tactic used by LDS in dialoguing with non-Mormons, particularly Christians.
In SH Covey claims these are universal principles, not "unique to any specific faith or religion, including my own. These principles are a part of most every major enduring religion as well as social philosophies and ethical systems." (p. 34) "The more closely our maps or paradigms are aligned with these principles or natural laws, the more accurate and functional they will be." (p.35)
Yet, in DC Covey reveals that the only true and correct map is found in the LDS Church and that God appeared to Joseph Smith and rejected all existing maps. (p. 16) During that alleged encounter with God, Smith specifically names the Baptists, Methodists and Presbyterians as having what Covey refers to as "incorrect maps." (History of Joseph Smith 1:9-10, 18-19, DC p.16) Covey says it is actually the adversary that distorts the maps in non-Mormon minds getting a stranglehold on them "because most people never question their maps". (DC. P. 17) He continues, "No wonder Joseph Smith under inspiration identified the "creed of the fathers" as "the very mainspring of all corruption." (ibid.)
According to DC, those who use Covey's material without embracing LDS teaching, have an incorrect map "that distorts the knowledge of who we really are, who our Heavenly Father is, who Jesus Christ really is, and who the Holy Ghost really is, that it imposes enormous limitations on…those who 'buy into it.'" (P. 80) He says "The true map, on the other hand, tells us what Elder Lorenzo Snow summarized in this couplet:
“As man is, God once was; As God now is, man may become." (p.81)”
The full article can be found here.
NB The Mormon teaching manual for 2013 is The Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Lorenzo Snow. On the Mormonism Investigated blog you can follow weekly commentary as Mormons go through Lorenzo Snow’s teachings this year.
Have you read 7 Habits? How has it influenced you? Why not share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below?