In April of 2012, Steven Covey, a fit and an enthusiastic cyclist, was riding a bicycle on a rugged nature trail in Utah. He lost control of his bicycle and crashed, and weeks later died from complications of the accident.
Steven Covey, born on October 24, 1932 was 79 when he died. At the time of his death he was a husband, the father of nine and the grandfather of 52. His financial worth was estimated at 1.5 billion. That’s billion, with a “b” and that is money that he earned in his lifetime.
No doubt he was a highly effective person.
If you don’t recognize Steven Covey, he was the author of the book “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” first published in 1989. His famous book became the center piece of a consulting empire. Clearly he took his own advice, to become highly effective.
You may not know that Steven Covey was born into a prominent Mormon family in Salt Lake City, Utah. He practiced the faith enthusiastically for his lifetime, including work as the president of his church’s mission to Ireland. He was also a university professor and a business consultant.
The seven habits are:
- Be Proactive
- Begin with the End in Mind
- Put First Things First
- Think Win-Win
- Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood
- Sharpen the Saw (self-improvement)
So what does a Christian do with advice from a devout Mormon?
Mormonism, like Scientology and Free Masonry has graduating ranks to the highest states of exaltation and knowledge. This is similar to the graduating ranks of ancient Gnosticism, which the first Christians considered a rival cult.
Avoid the irreverent babble and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge, for by professing it some have swerved from the faith. (1 Timothy 6:21).
There might be a historical link to Gnosticism. Mormon secret ceremonies resemble those of Scottish Rite Free Masonry, and Joseph Smith, who founded Mormonism, was originally a Free Mason. Free Masonry seems to include extensions of ancient Gnostic teachings.
In Mormon belief a devout man may follow the church’s path of exaltation to eventually become a god. Christians speak of being ‘born again’ at conversion, but Mormons believe birth is salvation. When a baby is born, a soul moves into salvation and that person may choose the Mormon path to exaltation, with the goal of becoming a god.
Jesus is described as a man who followed the true path to become an exalted god. Lucifer is the failed brother, with dark skin, who went the other way. Until recently, dark-skinned people were considered sons of Lucifer, and Mormon missionaries didn’t try hard to convert them. I have been to Kenya and Tanzania, and I don’t recall any Mormon missionaries. Dark skinned people were only recently permitted to be leaders in the church.
On the day of resurrection, exalted Mormon god-men will summon their most faithful wives from their graves. Polygamy was banned by Latter Day Saint Mormons in 1890, but not for the afterlife, so a man may call several women. If a woman is summoned, she will be a goddess, and through sexual activity, gods and goddesses will procreate races that will inhabit planets and worship their exalted god parents.
From these beliefs about men and women, it’s not surprising that Mormons are strong opponents of homosexuality, and gay marriage.
As a Christian, I have a different starting point. I believe Jesus is God from eternity and not a man who graduated to that position. I believe I was lost and separated from God, in this life, and that I am saved and reconciled to God through the work that Jesus did for me when he died on a cross. I put my trust in Jesus who died for me, and who rose from the dead with the power to save me. I also believe Jesus is coming back to this world, as a conquering king.
[Jesus] is before all things, and in him all things hold together … and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross. (Colossians 1:17 and 20).
Steven Covey’s advice is a path to improvement, or higher levels of effectiveness, consistent with Mormon or Gnostic notions of graduation and exaltation. He lived with this exaltation thinking for his whole life, and it’s not surprising he had practical advice on how to improve performance.
I believe strongly in being proactive (habit 1); we should make decisions now, and not wait until we are moved by crushing failure. I also believe we should work with clearly defined goals (habit 2). The other habits are summarized for me in Steven Covey’s principle of abundance instead of scarcity. If we are pessimistic and afraid of scarcity, we will be mean, competitive and selfish, making us ineffective. The opposite ‘abundance mentality’ or mindset, can make us fearless, generous and effective.
In my experience, Steven Covey had good advice for moving forward in business and project management. For my spiritual life, I have decided to follow Jesus.