Eight years ago I wrote a book called Parenting on Your Knees: Prayers and Practical Guidance for Parents. I really believed in this book and so did my literary agent. Not long after he started mailing my book proposal out to publishing houses, we began getting excellent responses. Several houses were interested in publishing and we thought that perhaps we’d have to choose which offer to take. Each publisher asked for different changes to be made and I quickly cranked out the changes and responded to their requests. (I wasn’t going to be dubbed a “difficult author.”)
After months of back-and-forth, we received an email from the senior acquisition editor at a major publisher. The “pub” (publishing) committee had met and they wanted to offer me a contract! For various reasons the other publishing doors had closed, but we believed this was God’s way of showing us where He wanted this book to land. All that remained was for the president of the publishing house to sign the contract. The next week I received another email. The president decided not to make the offer after all. We were all (including the senior acquisitions editor) speechless. I was disappointed, angry, and ready to quit. I almost lost heart.
However, that experience wouldn’t be the last time I experienced an assault on my heart. In the years since, I have been experienced numerous situations where I was ready to quit and throw in the towel.
This is why, I think, as leaders we must be diligent to guard our hearts. King Solomon said it best: “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life” (Proverbs 4:23).
Michael Hyatt, former CEO of Thomas Nelson publishing shared three reasons why leaders must guard their hearts in an article I read last spring.
- Because our hearts are extremely valuable. We don’t guard worthless things. (My husband takes our garbage to the street every Wednesday night. It is picked up on Thursday morning. It sits on the sidewalk all night, completely unguarded. Why? Because it is worthless.)
Not so with your heart. It is the essence of who you are. It is your authentic self-the core of your being. It is where all your dreams, your desires, and your passions live. It is that part of you that connects with God and other people.
Just like your physical body, if your heart-your spiritual heart-dies, your leadership dies. This is why Solomon says, “Above all else.” He doesn’t say, “If you get around to it” or “It would be nice if.” No, he says, make it your top priority.
- Because your heart is the source of everything you do. King Solomon says it is the “wellspring of life.” In other words, it is the source of everything else in your life. Your heart overflows into thoughts, words, and actions.
If your heart is unhealthy, it has an impact on everything else. It threatens your family, your friends, your ministry, your career, and, indeed, your legacy. It is, therefore, imperative that you guard it.
- Because your heart is under constant attack. When Solomon says to guard your heart, he implies that you are living in a combat zone-one in which there are casualties.
Many of us are oblivious to the reality of this war. We have an enemy who is bent on our destruction. He not only opposes God, but he opposes everything that is aligned with Him-including us.
Satan uses all kinds of weapons to attack our heart.
For me, these attacks often come in the form of some circumstance that leads to disappointment, discouragement, or even disillusionment. In these situations, I am tempted to quit-to walk off the field and surrender.
This is why if you and I are going to succeed as leaders-and survive as individuals-we must guard our hearts. They are more important than we can possibly imagine. If we lose heart, we have lost everything.