At the age of 17, my wife Susan was rushed to the hospital because her heart had been racing at a pace of 220 beats per minute and had been at that rate for more than two hours. Her cardiac arrest caused her to receive a pacemaker before her high school graduation. She needed the pacemaker because her heartbeat regulator was defective and she needed a more reliable source.
Your physical heart is a muscle that pumps life-giving blood throughout your body. But the word “heart” has been used for thousands of years to describe the core of who you are, the “real you”. It’s the central command for all thoughts, beliefs, desires, affections, conscience, convictions, emotions, and motives. Motive is fundamentally a heart issue. We are born with a defective, selfish heart and it needs to be led by another source to keep it beating the right way. If life is all about me, I won’t be the kind of husband, dad, man that God designed for me to be. I’ll do things with the wrong, self-focused motives.
When you’ve gone through marriage struggles or parenting struggles, has anyone ever said to you, “just follow your heart.”? Have you ever asked yourself, “Why do I do what I do?” Here’s how to check your motives for the betterment of your life and the lives of your family.
Follow Your Heart?
Is “following your heart” the best advice? No. At least, not most of the time. That’s because when most people say “follow your heart” they mean “follow your feelings.” If you just follow your feelings, more often than not, you’ll make selfish decisions that will only benefit you.
Think about it. How many times have you heard about a man divorcing his wife of many years, saying “I don’t feel respected by her.”? How many women have you heard say “I don’t feel in love anymore.”? Or what about the parent that comes home after a long day at work and saying to his attention-craving child, “I just want to relax and watch t.v. I don’t feel like playing right now.”
The problem with this advice is that when following your heart, you are just chasing whatever feels right at the moment, even though it may not be right. In Jeremiah 17:9 the Bible says “the heart is more deceitful than anything.” Feelings are often shallow, fickle, unreliable and selfish. And if you constantly follow your feelings, you will have failed as a man. When was the last time you walked in the door after work and received a standing ovation from your family? You should not be motivated by accolades, awards, or applause; you should not be motivated by your feelings. Instead, you should be motivated by your love of God and others.
In their book, The Love Dare, Stephen and Alex Kendrick said, “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.
Lead your Heart
Instead of following your heart, you must lead your heart. The best way to lead your heart as a man is by following God in obedience. Great leaders are great followers of the One who makes great leaders: God. Jesus says, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Make Him your treasure. Then he can lead your heart.
The Kendricks laid out 4 great ways to lead your heart:
- 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 and money?
- Guard your heart. When something unhealthy tempts your heart, it is your responsibility to guard it against temptation. Build walls around yourself to fortify you against sexual temptation, pornography, and gambling.
- Set your heart. Set your thoughts and affections on what’s most important in life. This should be your relationship with God, your wife, and your kids. Don’t “feel” like it? We’re not talking about feelings here. We’re talking about leading them.
- Invest your heart. Don’t wait until you feel like doing the right thing in your marriage. Do it today. Start investing your time and energy into your marriage.
Leave a Legacy
When something unhealthy tempts your heart, it is your responsibility to guard it against temptation. Make God’s heartbeat, your heartbeat. Then, and only then, can you lead the heart of your family well. Make sure to lead your heart, and your children’s heart, by following God’s Word. Your greatest legacy won’t be the material things you leave behind; those will fade away. Your greatest legacy will be the love you leave behind. That is the legacy that will endure. It will endure the lives of your children and future generations.
Sound off: What ways do you need to lead your heart this week?
Huddle Up Question
Huddle up with your kids and ask, “Why is it a bad idea to make a decision based on how you feel?”