Guard Your Heart

Proverbs 4:23 says "Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it."

While I understand the sentiment and totally agree that from your heart emanates your life, I am always conflicted because ministry and leadership intrinsically requires us to open up our hearts to people. And let's be honest, if we have been around people for any length of time then we know that people will eventually disappoint us. So how does vulnerability to people and guarding our heart marry up.

Is it the thick skin / soft heart philosophy?
The issue with this philosophy is that the thick skin tends to only work against those people or things that we have relegated to the "outside". We can live one step removed from critics, keep disappointment at bay through rationalizing and learning from our mistakes. But what happens when the critics are close to us?

In my experience, if you are in ministry or leadership then it is unavoidable that we will face disappointment and discouragement in various forms and at various levels. Below are a couple of things I have learned.

Go to God
Psalms calls God a refuge and strong tower. He, more than any other, knows the pain of disappointment and can also give us a more complete perspective. We sometimes get caught up in our own pain and disappointment, and need him to reset us.

Know your north
What I mean by that is to set and know your values, and then live your life according to them. Those values will be challenged and over time you may find yourself drifting from them, and so you need to process the issues and reset back to your "true north" values.

When Proverbs talks about guarding your heart, I don't think it means that we keep people away and never take a risk, I think it means that we guard the godly values we live by, and don't let people or circumstance move us.

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