One day, while playing with my son in his room, I noticed these interesting soft spots, almost dimples, in his wall. I thought there might be a leak somewhere, so I called a plumber. He confirmed there wasn’t a leak, but I had subterranean termites eating the drywall. If I filled in the dimples and painted over them without calling an exterminator, it would look fine for a while, but I would have wasted my time. The main problem was below the surface. The wall needed to be opened and the invaders eliminated before the exterior could be rebuilt. The same is true for us.
We focus on behavior modification rather than treating the source below the surface: the heart. One of my beloved mentors said that “the heart is our core, the place where our will, thoughts, and feelings all converge.” Like Play-Doh is molded and shaped, so are we shaped by the things that influence the heart. What type of person are you becoming? In order to be formed into a man of character, integrity, and strength, you need to start confronting and understanding your heart. The answers to the following two questions will reveal the type of person you are becoming.
What do you love the most?Whatever you love the most is forming who you are.
Whatever you love the most is forming who you are. Those things and images will fill your mind. They will dictate how you spend your time and energy. When Jesus was asked what the most important commandment is, he said it is to love God, and the second was like it: love others (Matthew 22:36–40). Those are the right things to love.
Second Timothy 3 warns us about loving the wrong things: “People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited…” Take a hard look at what you are producing around you, the character qualities you are modeling, and you will get a picture of what you love most. Who or what are you letting captivate you? Choose and invest wisely. You have given those things or people a powerful influence over who you are becoming.
What do you listen to?
The loud voice that comes from within is the one of self-interest. We want to do for ourselves, make our way, have others serve our interests, and receive attention. How much we allow this voice to rule the day will determine what we live out. Are we all about us, or do we put others first? Fight this voice. The less we serve it, the quieter it gets. Silence it by serving others.
The outside voices come from experiences, culture, and relationships. They can fill us with fear and feelings of inadequacy when we believe the wrong things. We need to work on getting rid of the negative and untrue messages and replace them with the truth.
They can be damaging and create deep hurt, or they can be positive and bolster our self-image. It might be being bullied, receiving social affirmation, athletic achievements, or failing in business. Our experiences start early and send us messages about ourselves, who we are, and our self-worth. Differentiate the truth from the lies. That’s the beginning of understanding your heart.
Music, movies, television, media, business, and art spark ideas about ourselves. What do you consistently take in? The images and ideas that capture your imagination play an important role in who you are from the inside out.
Our wives, friends, parents, peers… You may never have been affirmed by your father or are caught up in comparing yourself to peers. What messages have you been receiving from people in your life? Are the messages healthy? Again, discern fact from fiction. If it is fiction, don’t give it access to your core.
What do you love and listen to the most? Make sure they are the right things. Eventually, what is most true about us will come to the surface for all to see.
Sound off: Have you worked on understanding your heart? What has influenced it the most?
Huddle Up Question
Huddle up with your kids and ask, “What do you love the most?”