Should you just follow your heart as you date, in your marriage, while you work, as you socialize? No. At least not most of the time. That’s because when most people say to “follow your heart,” they’re really just saying, “Follow your feelings.” And yes, feelings by themselves can sometimes lead you down a smooth road. But, more often than not, they’ll lead you on a road full of potholes and maybe even a fatal crash.
How many times have you heard about husbands divorcing their wives of many years to get that loving feeling with a new trophy wife? How many women have said to you, “I just don’t feel in love anymore.” They’re leaving their husbands for a man who “really listens, understands, and cares.” And how many have left their job on a whim because they “felt” like it in order to start a new business that quickly went out of business? Here’s the problem with that and a better way to handle it.
What’s the problem?
We live in a culture where people make major decisions solely in response to their feelings, regardless of who they hurt or what promises they break. Authors Stephen and Alex Kendrick in their book The Love Dare say the problem with “following your heart”, as most people define it, is that you are just chasing whatever feels right at the moment, even though it may not be right. It means throwing caution to the wind and pursuing your latest whim, even though it may not be logical. As the Kendricks further note, “People forget that feelings and emotions are shallow, fickle, and unreliable.” Emotions can fluctuate depending upon circumstances. The Kendricks suggest that instead of following your heart, you should lead it.Your heart will follow whatever you pour your time, talent, and treasure into.
Where is your treasure?
Stephen and Alex Kendrick also share, “You need to understand that your heart follows your investment.” In other words, your heart will follow whatever you pour your time, talent, and treasure into. If you pour much of your time into Facebook and Twitter, your thoughts and emotions will be there. If your talent and energy are focused completely on your job, a big part of you will reside there as well. If you use your treasure to accumulate cars, boats, and other stuff, that’s where your desires and affections will be. “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also,” Jesus says.
Lead your Heart
The Kendricks say to lead your heart in four ways:
- Check your heart. A key to leading your heart is to constantly be aware of where it is. Where is your heart? Start by looking at your calendar and checkbook. Where are you investing your time? Where are you investing your money?
- Guard your heart. When something unhealthy tempts your heart, it is your responsibility to guard it against temptation. “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” (Proverbs 4:23) Build walls around yourself to fortify against sexual temptation, pornography, and gambling.
- Set your heart. Set your thoughts and affections on what’s most important in life: your relationship with God. Don’t “feel” like it? We’re not talking about following those feelings. We need to choose to lead them instead.
- Invest your heart. Don’t wait until you feel like doing the right thing in your marriage or family. Do it today. Start investing your time and energy into your wife and/or kids.
This post was originally published at MarkMerrill.com entitled “Lead Your Heart (Part 2).”
Sound off: Where do you think your heart is most invested right now?
Huddle up with your kids and ask, “Why is it important to do what is right over what you feel like doing?”