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07.2007 The Divine Center

The Divine Center

By Stephen R. Covey

“For many years,” writes the author, “I have felt and seen the need for an organizing principle in life. That principle must be simple but not simplistic; and it must offer total direction in life.”

This book introduces, explains, and illuminates that principle centering one’s life on God. Part of this concept, aspiring to be Christlike, is not a new thought. What is new and compelling here is the author’s sparklingly fresh approach: We see the world not as it is, but as we are. “Hence the multiplicity of views on reality. The perspective, then, the mindset, is crucial. It is indeed all in the head.” To change our life we must change our frame of reference. What if we changed it to the mind of Christ, to use Paul’s term?

In a text graphically illustrated and brimming with stimulating thoughts and experiences the author examines twelve common centers or perspectives and their effect on the fundamental dimensions of life our security, guidance, wisdom, and power. While these perspectives all offer values in varying degrees and emphases, all but one (including the Church and the family) is clearly seen to be ultimately deficient as a life center. Only the divine center meets all the tests. This powerful principle is given vibrant life by an inspiring presentation of how-to’s by an imaginative, thought-provoking explanation of the divine-centering process and the detailed steps necessary at its various stages.

This is a book of unusual substance and depth. Understandable at several levels, it will be reread often for increased comprehension and motivation. No conscientious reader can fail to be influenced by its message.

{ 37 comments… add one }
  • Sharilee10 July 2, 2007, 7:21 pm

    Okay . . . so I must have an older version. My cover is very different, but I’m sure it’s the same content.

    I read the first 8 pages on Saturday and have already seen much to emulate and think about. The section on Experience Determines Perception goes right along with so many of the other books I have been reading, including Covey’s other books, that there is no reality, only perception.

    The section on Perception Governs Meanings reminds me of the Course in Miracles where the first activity they have you do is to look at 3-5 things per day and say, “That ___ has no meaning but what I give to it.” I hadn’t really thought of it that way before, but it really is true. Anything you see gains meaning only by the meaning we give to it. Take the computer— people view it differently depending on their experiences with it and give meaning to it, either as a tool of great value or a tool of great danger; a tool that saves time or a tool that wastes time; etc. This has helped me a great deal when I find myself getting stuck. Realizing that I can change my circumstance by changing the meaning I am giving to the circumstance and ‘things’ opens my mind to new ideas and new experiences.

    I also love the section on the basic communication problems. As a professional mediator I realized that this section really hit the core of why mediation is such an excellent option for conflict management. When each party has the opportunity to see the conflict from the other party’s side they develop a better understanding, even if they still don’t agree (which, granted, they usually don’t!). I LOVE being involved in mediations where you see the parties go from being hardened and angry at each other to at least understanding that they really DO see things from a different perspective and they aren’t necessarily WRONG, just that they are coming from different viewpoints. Anyway– I really agree with the statement:

    Iif you trace to its genesis almost any credibility problem, personality conflict, or communicatino breakdown, you will find a perception problem.

  • agardner July 3, 2007, 3:26 pm

    I got my copy today! I’m on page 9. No amazing insight from me yet.

    Sharilee, how do you become a professional mediator? Do you have to have a law degree? It sounds like a fascinating field.

  • Sharilee10 July 3, 2007, 10:21 pm

    There is training available through the UDR (Utah Dispute Resolution), University of Utah, and there are also some other programs around the state that I am not as familiar with.

    It is a fascinating profession. I am not attorney, although I have a lot of self-training in the legal field. One of the most fascinating dates I ever went on was spent in the law library of one of SLC’s prominent law firms. The attorney I was on the date with told me that I probably knew more about family law than the attorney’s there (they focused on business law). I’m not sure if knowing as much as I do is a pro or con when mediating– but it definitely is not required.

  • spitfire July 4, 2007, 11:28 am

    The Divine Center is one of my absolute favorite books. As a matter of fact, it think it should be required reading for every new member or the Church. It clearly describes how to be Christ centered and describes counterproductive behaviors that are cloaked as being Christ centered. (i.e. calling centered, etc). It can be very intimidating for an adult convert or even life long member to know how to “live” the Gospel. The book helps understand the behavior & pyschology of being Christ centered. I think The Divine Center is phenomenal, mine is highlighted with notes scribbled here & there. I refer back to it frequently for an occaision “tune up”. Great pick for the Book Club!!

  • facethemusic July 4, 2007, 12:50 pm

    We went to the library this morning to turn in some books, and I was hoping that since this was a Covey book that they might have it. No such luck. Pooey.
    I’ll have to join this bandwagon whenever I can get out to our LDS bookstore.

  • Alison Moore Smith July 4, 2007, 4:54 pm

    spitfire, so glad for your comments. I haven’t read this book in over 15 years, so I know it will be an entirely different book. I’ll go dig mine out in a few minutes.

    Mostly, I’m so thrilled to have all you posting WITHOUT me!!!

  • mlinford July 4, 2007, 11:01 pm

    I am happy to be able to read this again. 😉 Hope I can join in soon. Things have been craaaaazy! (parents just returned from their 3-year mission!)

  • SilverRain July 10, 2007, 7:08 am

    I’m only a few pages into the book, but its already opening my eyes. Am I the only one who hasn’t read this already?

  • agardner July 10, 2007, 7:16 am

    I’m on page 68, just starting the chapter on the Divine Center.

    As I’ve been reading the different ways we can center our life, I can see where I have been centered on different things at different points in my life. I would read one section (say, about being church-centered or family-centered) and think, yep that’s me! But I am hoping that at the root of it all has been my love for the Savior. I need to keep reading…

  • Sharilee10 July 10, 2007, 1:56 pm

    Good job, agardner! Page 68 is impressive!

    Confession— I forgot to be reading The Divine Center the past few days. The other night I fell asleep on the couch and when I woke up I grabbed the family set of scriptures (the one with all the wonderful pictures and notes and all of that) and started reading. I have missed having scripture study with my kids, so it was kind of like studying with them again and as I got going I decided I was going to finish the Book of Mormon before the kids get home in 2 weeks (I started with 1 Nephi 1:1). So— to read the Book of Mormon or The Divine Center, or can I fit them both in with everything else I COULD do while the kids are gone!?! Hmmm . . . I’ll have to think about that and figure out a way to do them both!

  • heather July 10, 2007, 11:59 pm

    Just thought everyone should know…. I finally received my book and am going to spend the next four days reading it madly (with deep pondering and scripture refrencing I’m sure!) . Just thought everyone should know! Yeah, just thought everyone should know: I’m a procrastinator – what everyone should not know!

  • Alison Moore Smith July 11, 2007, 12:37 am

    Way to go, heather! :clap:

  • SilverRain July 11, 2007, 6:55 am

    Okay – I think the point of a book club is to share what we pulled from the book. I’m reading much more slowly than I usually do, because I’m thinking about the points made in the book. So far, I’ve pulled out two important (and blog-relevant) points.

    First – “I am convinced that in the long run no one can hurt another without the other’s consent; that is, hurt him in a deeply significant, personal, internal sense. This is because we always have the power to choose a response to what someone else does to us. This may be one reason why failure to forgive someone else is a greater sin than that which he has done to us.” page 35

    This is important because I think in the blogosphere (especially in LDS-centered blogs) we wear a very thin skin. We allow ourselves to be insulted and to look for insult in what is being said. We then get our feelings hurt and withdraw for awhile (or permanently.) I’ve done this, too. Recently, I permanently quit posting on a particular blog. I have thought a great deal about this concept, wondering if I had indulged in the above-quoted behavior by doing so. After thought, I decided in this case I hadn’t, since my primary reason for leaving was the impression that sharing my opinions and ideas was hurting others in the blog with no positive effect, not because I’d had my feelings hurt and was running away. I’ve been involved in interactive internet for nearly a decade (though in LDS-centered spheres for just over a year) and have developed a much tougher skin as a result (though I still have a long way to go). I’ve analyzed myself and realized that my center is probably on others’ opinions of me. This is not righteous and not of God, and probably causes the rest of my emotional problems.

    Secondly – Pages 25-27 under “Spouse-centeredness” where he shares the story of the woman who learned to “break a deeply impacted habit that was addicting to her–the habit of getting back, of justifying, of having the last word, of putting down.”
    This sentence jumped out at me particularly because of the “having the last word” part. This describes me to a painful “T”. I need to stop this need to have the last word. Again, this habit is focused on my opinion-centered ego (as described above). My first goal as a result of this book is to stop having the last word. Once I’ve made my point, I am no longer going to beleaguer it. How different the LDS blogs would be if people stopped glorifying this particular need over a care for others!

  • hsmom4 July 12, 2007, 9:39 pm

    I really like what you said Sharilee and SilverRain. You motivated me. I ordered the book and I’ll be ready to read soon!

  • mollymormon July 13, 2007, 11:23 pm

    SilverRain, I haven’t read it either! I know we own it, I just have to figure out where my dh has hidden it. Have to ask him tomorrow when he gets back from Scout camp.

    About your page 35 quote, that totally reminds me of Elder Bednar’s offense talk (NOT offensive talk, lol!)

    I look forward to finding the book and actually reading it!

  • Diana July 19, 2007, 11:40 am

    ok ok ok, so I know it’s the 19th and most if not all of you are well on your way into the book, but if there are any others out there who haven’t ordered the book and who want to- I just ordered a copy of the book for $.40 from amazon.com. yep, i wrote that right- 40 pennies (with $3.99 for shipping) It’s in “new condition” and has a hard-cover. Here’s a link (I hope it works!) for more copies of The Divine Center if anyone else could use it.

  • agardner July 31, 2007, 8:38 am

    Since it’s the last day of the month, I figured I’d better finish up this book. To be completely honest, I found this book kind of hard to get into. Maybe it was that Harry Potter was pulling me away, but it just seemed like every time I picked it up it sounded repetitive and soon my mind was drifting to other things and I would find that I had read several pages without really retaining anything. For some reason, this happens to me often when I read Covey. Somehow I just don’t relate well to his writing style. Anyway, I did give it a try. I kind of skimmed the end more than really reading it.

    What this book did help me to realize, is that if we remain “divine centered”, all of the other areas in life are taken care of. I do believe that. Sometimes I get so focused on my family or on church callings that I lose sight of that and this was a good reminder. When I am centered correctly, I automatically take care of the things that need to be, rather than focusing on only one area. It does give me a lot to work towards.

    I also really liked at the end where he related these teachings to his own life and reinforced that it’s not something he is always perfect in, but it’s a constant striving to remain centered on the divine.

    I might give the book a try again another time. I still have several of Covey’s books that I’ve started and never finished. I might just have to make a “Covey week” and go through all of them, because they’ve been recommended and I’m sure they are good, I just have a hard time getting it for some reason.

    Speaking of book club, I’ve still got the audiobook for “The Secret” going in my car. I’m about 3/4 of the way through that. It is so overly dramatic with the music and all that I’m having a really hard time taking it seriously. But it does have some interesting stuff.

  • heather August 2, 2007, 11:53 pm

    I hope no one has given up on this blog nor it’s subject matter. I’m a little behind but I’m trying to finish this book. I’m doing a lot of deep thinking while reading it and trying to apply it to my life. I’m almost there! I have so much to say that It will probally become an epistle. I had a late start. So just stay tuned!!!! This book does involve a lot of analyzing – that’s why I like it! I have a feeling Integrity August book is really going to make me think hard too. But I’m really anxious to read it too.

  • Alison Moore Smith August 3, 2007, 9:11 am

    heather, just keep posting. Once a month has past, I just let the topic drop down naturally, but you’re free to continue to post as long ast you want. I’m still finishing it up, too, although I read it years ago. We will appreciate your insights.

  • heather August 26, 2007, 11:53 pm

    Well, I feel terrible that I have waited so long in responding to this book review. As mentioned before, I am currently in another book club as well but I needed to redirect my focus on this very inspiring book! I LOVED LOVED LOVED IT!!!!!!!!

    To begin, I found it fascinating that Covey made it clear that our experiences determine our perceptions in life. It “governs our beliefs, attitudes, and our behaviors”. Immediately, I began to think of how my own mothering can affect my children’s perceptions in life through daily “teaching moments”. It is vital that I create a home of open learning where my children feel safe to question and experience freely the true elements of life in a positive manner.

    “Each person sees the world not as it is but as he or she is”. :shocked: Hello! Now I am questioning my perceptions intensely these days. Especially if our perceptions directs our behavior. Now, in reality, this really isn’t something “New” I’ve just discovered, however, it is something to truly and deeply ponder.

    It’s amazing how Covey seems to break down specific factors in our life that can bring us wisdom – security, guidance, wisdom and power, yet, these are considered “inadequate” when we truly consider what needs to be the true center of our lives : God and Jesus Christ. again- what am I as a mother offering to my children in knowing the true nature of our Father and our Brother?

    Here’s a great inference I really talked a lot about with my dh. “The advesary would love to have us engage with him, to fight him on his territory. Have us be angry with him to pull us away from our true work for the Lord. Trying to identify this is a constant for me in areas such as forgiveness and service.

    Once again – perceptions are based on our own life experiences : To see the world through the eyes of Christ is perhaps the greatest way I can develop healthy personal growth, a loving relationship with my Father in Heaven, Christ, and interactions with my fellow man. “When you put God at the center you become more diligent and far more effective in the Chuch, not less……You can accomidate new changes, new people, new enviornments, because you understand and appreciate divine purposes and principles….” “If we study and live to understand the character of the Lord, we will gradually and naturally be cahnged into a like character, the spirit being the catalyst for change” – all are life changing statements for someone such as myself!

    I focused deeply his outline of the “Effects and implications of Alternative Centers and possible possible reactions that would result from perceptions conditioned by different centers in life. Again, fascinating!

    My favorite part of this book is the process of promoting growth: 1. educating the conscience : Oh what a learning experince for me to finally find a way to discipline my mind! Through these educational endeavors – TRUE scripture study 2. Listening and HEaring in prayer, through the spirit etc. and finally, 3. Committing and covenanting: taking a new step into the future. I needed a new level and direction in how I am going to live my life, break habits etc. ALL ARE CHALLENGING ALONG THE WAY BUT CLOSER TO PERFECTION!!!!

    In the end, I am truly motivated and steadfast in making my home a “Christ Centered” home. I have a new sence of urgency to change habits, practice successful scripture study, promote a loving environment with my spouse and my children but above all – come to understand my Father in Heaven and his son so I can attain all that they have to offer myself and my family. I want a forever and spiritual and loving family. Alison – Thank you thank you for suggesting this book. I can already see a change in myself and my little ones. I no longer think of the “temporal” dealings but more of the “clelestial” ones!!! What a blessing it has been to read this book I will become my “resource” for structuring my home.

  • Alison Moore Smith August 27, 2007, 7:56 am

    heather, thank you for the great testimonial. You brought out so many good things in the book. Rereading it two decades after the first reading, I found similar things and even though it wasn’t “new,” as you said, I needed the reminder.

  • ChanJo August 27, 2007, 9:02 am

    Posted By: heatherCommitting and covenanting: taking a new step into the future.

    Heather, I’m glad you brought this up. It reminds me of the counsel to take a step in the darkness, with faith, when we are unsure how to proceed. Anyone know what I’m talking about? Elder Scott, I think?

  • mlinford August 27, 2007, 3:34 pm

    It was from Pres Packer quoting Harold B. Lee, most recently in a Conference address:

    I went to see Elder Harold B. Lee. He added, You must learn to walk a few steps ahead into the darkness, and then the light will turn on and go before you. ?

  • SilverRain August 28, 2007, 4:45 pm

    When applying the principle of “step into the darkness”, however, I think it is important to remember that you can’t step into the darkness expecting the light to come on. Sometimes it doesn’t come on when you want it to. Sometimes it doesn’t come on at all. True faith follows the Lord and trusts that whatever happens is according to His will – and that His will is always for your eternal benefit.

  • Alison Moore Smith August 28, 2007, 5:45 pm

    Oh, you are so right, Silver. And there’s the rub, eh? I have a friend right now who is anguishing over a child. She prayed and prayed and prayed to be inspired and then moved forward doing the very best she could. Now as he’s an adult, it seems (to her and to him) that she did everything wrong. Lots of second-guessing and self-doubt.

    If you go to Education Week, you will ALWAYS find a ream of classes that address personal revelation, getting answers to prayers, etc. The classes are always packed and overflowing. Too many have experiences like my friend’s and it is troubling.

  • mlinford August 28, 2007, 6:23 pm

    Silver, great point. If we could figure out THAT kind of trust, life really would be easy, or at least made light.

  • SilverRain August 28, 2007, 6:56 pm

    I don’t know if it is ever truly easy-not in the sense we think of “easy.” It wasn’t easy for Abinadi, Nephi . . . or Christ. It was simply easier than the alternative.

  • mlinford August 28, 2007, 10:17 pm

    I meant easy in the ‘my yoke is easy’ way. Our definition of easy misses the point of life altogether, imo.

  • mlinford August 28, 2007, 10:18 pm

    So, Thanksgiving Point has farmer’s markets on Fridays from 3-7. Dyawanna try to hook up at one?

  • SilverRain August 29, 2007, 4:41 am

    Actually, yes! That would be fun. I could probably even do it this Friday. I’m not sure how early I could be there, but I might be able to get there at three . . . .

  • mlinford August 29, 2007, 11:38 am

    I just told my VTee about our book club. It’s fun to have some inspiration and motivation to read good books.

  • mlinford August 29, 2007, 11:39 am

    I wouldn’t be able to make it until about four…kidlets get out of school at 3:30…if I picked them up immediately, I’m about 15-20 minutes away. Should we try for Friday? Could it be?? 🙂

  • Alison Moore Smith August 29, 2007, 2:10 pm

    Great, Michelle. Hope she joins us!

  • SilverRain August 29, 2007, 4:17 pm

    Let’s try it! I know virtually nothing about the area, so have no idea where to plan to meet. If we make it five, I can give my daughter a nap, first (though that isn’t vital, she hasn’t been sleeping anyways.)

  • mlinford August 29, 2007, 11:05 pm

    I like 5. Let’s plan on it. There is a water tower right in the middle of the complex, pretty obvious. Why don’t we meet there?

  • SilverRain August 30, 2007, 4:39 am

    Sounds great! *bounce!* I’m so excited.

  • mlinford August 30, 2007, 2:29 pm

    Woohoo! Mee tooooo!

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