Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.”
Proverbs 4:23 (NLT)
What Is Your Heart?
In the above verse, Solomon was not writing about your physical heart that is pumping blood throughout your body. He was referring to your inner, spiritual person.
Defining what the heart is in a simple and understandable way was difficult for me. A search on the Internet showed me that many others struggled with it as well. However, I like this description of the heart written by Michael Hyatt:
…the heart is your authentic self—the core of your being. It is that part of you that makes you, you. It is your inner being where your dreams, your desires, and your passions live. It is that part of you that connects with God and other people.”
Michael Hyatt in The Importance of a Leader’s Heart
Why Guarding Your Heart Is Important
There is a spiritual battle going on for your heart. Why? Because the state of your heart defines the direction and impact of your life.
Satan wants to keep you from being all that God has in store for you. God wants you to live a life that is better than you can imagine.
If you lose heart in your leadership, your group members can be affected.
Put up your guard, maintain a pure heart and your impact as a leader can be tremendous.
How to Guard Your Heart
It is important we guard our hearts. Here are 5 ways to get started now:
The heart is mentioned over 900 times in the Bible. God wants to get our attention about its importance.
In Proverbs 4:23, we are told to guard our heart over everything else. We need to make it our #1 priority.
Your heart can deceive you. Your desires and emotions may be telling you a lie, without you knowing it. This is not where you want to put your trust.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.”
Proverbs 3:5-6 (NLT)
God is where you need to put your trust. By trusting Him with ALL of your heart, there is no room left for other things to deceive you.
Know God’s Word. Pray with Him regularly. Seek guidance from Holy Spirit and godly people. These are all things you can do to trust Him more and guard your heart.
God desires the best for you. But to live your best life, you need to set boundaries. Fight anything that threatens to cross those boundaries, no matter what.
Consider writing a list of those things you refuse to compromise on. Commit them to your heart and through God’s power defend them from any threat of you compromising or abandoning them.
Committing to them before you are challenged will help you do the right thing in the moment when it counts.
Build Authentic Relationships
Having a few trusted relationships allows you to completely open your heart to others and be vulnerable. It provides you needed encouragement and unconditional love from others. It also enables you to receive honest feedback and correction when your heart starts to fail you.
Seek out a few friendships with people who will know you, love you, and accept you for who you are. These are people who are trustworthy. Of course, you need to be the same for them.
This will take time if you don’t already have close friends. But it will be worth it.
Warning: At one level you can be vulnerable with your small group members. However, be careful who you allow total access to your closely guarded secrets. Although Jesus had 12 disciples he befriended and traveled with, only 3 of them were trusted with his deepest thoughts.
Sleep deprivation comes with many serious consequences. Our mood is affected including becoming irritable. Our thinking is affected including impaired judgement and vigilance.
How can you guard your heart when your judgement and vigilance have taken a dive? You might not be able to.
We think better when we are rested. A lack of rest brings down our defenses.
Make rest a priority. Get adequate daily and sabbath rest.
Question: What are some areas you will not compromise? What are some other ways you practice to guard your heart? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved
Wow, thank you for writing your insights on guarding our hearts. How many times do we hear people say, “Trust your heart?” And yet our hearts are driven by emotions that are easily shaped by physical and external circumstances.
The idea that my heart is my “authentic self” and that it must be protected makes me think of it like a child. Maybe a secular way of looking at it would be to call it our inner child. That might be simplifying it too much. But I think we need to protect our hearts as we would protect a precious child.
I don’t want to follow my heart (that inner child/emotional self) as it’s prone to emotional whims. I want my heart to follow God and be safe.
Jenny – That is a great way to view our heart, both from the perspective it can fool us and teh need to protect it. Thanks for your thoughts.