I was emailing back and forth with a worship pastor friend recently and sent him several garden-variety questions about his church, where he has been for about a year. You know, questions like, “How is the new building?” “Is the church growing?” “How is the worship culture there?” “Are people engaged?” The last question I asked, however, was a little more personal and revealing – “How is your heart?” His reply was, “That is a loaded question.” He went on to tell me that he is struggling in some of his relationships there, which revealed some past hurt from his previous job. In short, his struggle has revealed an open wound that is affecting his interactions with others.
In thinking about it, I started thinking about my daily interactions with people. Am I quick tempered/impatient? Do I argue a lot, needing to be right? Am I sarcastic? Am I defensive? Do I feel like no one is for me? Am I lethargic and unmotivated? Do I find myself critical of others? As I look through this list, I often evaluate with the intention of fixing whatever is broken. For instance, argue less, stop talking about others, fight through the doldrums. But realistically, all of these things are not the problem (not to excuse the behavior), but a symptom of something deeper going on. It has to do with the state of my heart.
Life is hard. If you are living and breathing, you have likely experienced hurt or pain in your life at the hand of another. And if those wounds are not fully dealt with, it will affect your interactions in the future. You can be great at identifying and attempting to change poor behavior, but if you want to get to the real issue behind the behavior, you’ve got to be willing to dig a little deeper. Treating symptoms is like giving Advil to someone with a brain tumor. It may stop the headache, but the tumor is still going to kill you. It is the same thing. It all comes back to the heart.
Proverbs 4:23 states, “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” Life comes from a healthy heart, but the antithesis is true from an unhealthy one. If unprotected, it can bring about pain, hurt, even death. A wounded heart repels others. In other words, while it takes time, introspection, soul-searching, courage and being still in order to evaluate, getting your heart healthy will change the way you view yourself and everyone around you. And a healthy heart is magnetic.
As a pastor or ministry professional, this is especially important. When you sift through what you bring to ministry – all of your knowledge, wisdom, natural gifting – the most important thing you bring to ministry is your heart. Think about it: Imparting wisdom without heart is arrogance. Serving without heart is self-promotion. Leading worship without heart is performance. Following the example of Jesus without heart is legalism. So, if your heart is unhealthy, it is hurting what God wants to do through you.
Today, be brave enough to take your heart to Jesus and ask the question, “Jesus, how is my heart?”
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