How is your heart?

If you could choose one word to describe the state of your heart what would it be?

Nearly 3,000 years ago, Israel’s third king, Solomon, wisely wrote in Proverbs 27:19

“As water reflects the face, so one’s life reflects the heart.”

Solomon warns us that what’s happening in our hearts will always reflect in our lives and leadership. The atmosphere of our heart sets the atmosphere of our life and leadership. Earlier, in Proverbs 4:23 He writes along the same lines, saying:

“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”

The Hebrew word for ‘guard’ is nāṣar which was often used to describe the actions of a sentry guarding and defending a fort. Its a warning to be very careful what you allow into your heart, and very careful about what you allow to stay.

Many of us are currently feeling a deep soul weariness, that feeling of “how much more”? It’s a common feeling, experienced in different ways and for different reasons and yet, as influential people, the prioritising of the state of our hearts is vital. The most important leadership tool we can contribute to our world is not our leadership experience, our knowledge, or our skills. A clean heart is the most important leadership tool we can ever possess. With this in mind, how can we nāṣar/guard and defend our hearts from the various temptations and corruptions that so determinedly lay siege to undermine our hearts?

King David had three consistent characteristics which help us in this ongoing battle.

Courageously Confess
Pursue Purity
Renew Rejoicing

Courageously Confess

Courageously confessing the state of our leadership heart will always protect us.
David always determined to own his leadership failings, coming back to God through confessing them and pursuing purity again. Psalm 51 is an example. David pleads:

“Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me”.

We all have areas of weakness and sickness in our hearts …courage is vital, enabling us to confess the issues we are battling with to trusted people in our lives.

Pursue Purity

There were many occasions throughout King David’s life and leadership when discouragement and loss of the fire in his heart could have caused great bitterness, yet in those times his consistency in relating with God enabled him to continue to pursue God’s heart. 1 Samuel 30:1-6 records how, when all his men became bitter, David strengthened and encouraged himself in the Lord. That filtered through and changed the hearts of those around him too.

Friends, a current major leadership crisis is bitterness. It’s a poison that wants to attack people’s hearts, attaching itself and taking root in our thinking, actions and leadership roles, battering and bruising our hearts. Allowing it oxygen will result in catastrophe. When this happened to David, his choice was to look to the Lord, encouraging himself that way, and the hearts of his team came into freedom through his deliberate choice to pursue God and not give way to self-pity, leading to bitterness.

Renew Rejoicing

One of King David’s greatest tools to keep his heart in line with God’s heart was his choice to rejoice, choosing to worship no matter what the season he was in, and no matter what other people thought. Proverbs 17:22

‘A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones’

As Christian leaders continue to rejoice, the heart of the Church is renewed and joy is reignited.

The hallmark of David’s leadership was the cultivation of joy which protected his heart… he grasped the importance of valuing what is eternal rather than what is temporary.

The psalms are a great example of David’s raw honesty and the pivot toward joy and gratitude he always takes. So, while we must lament and be honest about the state of our hearts and the hearts of others, taking time to mourn, it’s important that we don’t stay there, because that’s what enables bitterness to take root and develop. We are on a strategic leadership journey at a very strategic time in history. God has placed us here for such a time as this and we will be enabled to live and lead in strength and grace as we determine to reignite joy in our salvation, joy for the Kingdom of God, and joy for the leadership journey God has called us to.

All of our hearts need regular CPR, allowing God to work on our hearts. Like the disciples on the Emmaus road, we must recognise that Jesus is on the journey with us. Let’s not be slow of heart, but allow His fire to be ignited in us so we can say, as those two disciples did ‘Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road?’ He walks the road with us, personally and in our leadership. He is for us. Never forget it.