• Josh Akin

Guarding Your Heart: A Plea to Church Leaders

Keep your heart with all diligence, For out of it spring the issues of life. Proverbs 4:23

When a person looks to buy a new car, they generally notice the sound system, upholstery, or the way it looks. But, if you think about it, the engine is the most important feature of any car, because the moment the engine fails, the car is useless.

Our hearts work the same way. In the long run, if you don’t guard your heart, all the fancy features of your career or ministry are worthless. In other words, we all need to continually prioritize our spiritual and emotional health, because when our heart fails everything else will, too. This is especially true for church leaders because their heart does the work. A carpenter works with wood, an architect with drawings, but a leader works with hearts. Think about this:

Do you want to go fast? Build a product. Do you want to go far? Build a team.

And how is a team built? Not by money, or impressive facilities; it is your heart that draws people to trust you—and trust builds a team! Think about it. Your heart is what will get you out of bed or cause you to give up; and for a leader, the heart will do that same work in others. The leader’s heart encourages and strengthens, or it intimidates and silences. When people come alongside you in a long-term and committed way, it will be because of your heart—a team gathers when they believe in you.

Spiritual Vital Signs Just like a mechanic pops the hood and inspects the engine, we should prayerfully do the same for our spiritual health. In truth, every page of the Bible teaches us how to have Heart Health. Growing in faith is a broad subject, but a good place to begin is with what I call the three R’s.

Relationship with God Why does Proverbs teach us to keep our heart? Because the heart you first had in Christ is the heart you need to protect. Jesus taught us in Revelation 2, “This I have against you. You have left your first love.” He doesn’t say, you lost it, but you left it. When you first surrendered to God, you were willing to be corrected by Him, you sought Him first in decisions and you were hungry for His word more than anyone else’s. Have you lost that simple faith? Others might look to you as professional, but to God, you must stay first and foremost His child. He did not hire you, He adopted you. Protect that relationship.

Rest in God Just like a mechanic listening to an engine idling, we too can gauge Heart Health by how we rest. When you take a day and let go of your responsibilities, to-do’s, and everything to catch up on, you are letting God remind you that He doesn’t need you.

Read that again. God has it under control. Resting in God builds and proves your faith. Build rest into your day, schedule daily breaks for prayer, walks, or just time to look at the trees blowing behind your office. Do you schedule lunch? Is coffee part of your daily habit? In the same way, weave rest into your day, and build rest into your week. Let people know what day(s) you are unavailable. Everyone needs a day or two that is protected from anything but emergencies. By sharing with others what healthy margins look like, you are freeing others to rest in God as well.

Righteousness from God Unconfessed sin builds a wall between the believer and God. The prophet Isaiah gave a good description of this when he said, “Your sins have hidden His face from you” (Isaiah 59:2). Just like a cloud hides the sun, a believer’s sin, though forgiven, still leaves him cold and in the dark. A big part of Heart Health is regularly stopping and asking God to show you any part of your life that doesn’t glorify Him.

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