1. Protect the Heart!
Why is it important?
"1. Because your heart is extremely valuable. We don’t guard worthless things. I take my 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
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.
In Tennessee, where I live, we have thousands and thousands of
natural springs, where water flows to the surface of the earth from deep
under the ground. It then accumulates in pools or runs off into creeks
If you plug up the spring, you stop the flow of water. If you poison the water, the flow becomes toxic. In either situation, you threaten life downstream. Everything depends on the condition of the spring.
Likewise, 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." http://michaelhyatt.com/three-reasons-why-you-must-guard-your-heart.html to read more!
My friend was under attack. He had just discovered that one of his board members was campaigning to unseat him. Worse, one of his children had just been diagnosed with a chronic disease. As a result of these issues, he was struggling with the typical symptoms of stress—insomnia, indigestion, and back pain.
He was ready to throw in the towel. And, who could blame him? Life is hard.
This is why leaders must understand the importance of their heart and why they must guard it. In times of adversity and temptation, a healthy heart is essential to survival.
How can leaders cultivate a healthy heart? I would suggest four disciplines:
- The Discipline of Reflection. We live in a busy and noisy world that will suck the life out of us if we let it. This is why it is essential that we intentionally pull away to a quiet place, pause, and reflect. If Jesus did this (see, for example, Mark 1:35), how much more important is it for us? I believe this is best done by reading the Bible and praying. I have also found it helpful to read other spiritual writings, especially those of the desert fathers. Anything outside of our own time gives us much-needed perspective, as C.S. Lewis notes in his Introduction to On the Incarnation by St. Athanasius.
- The Discipline of Rest. God has built rest into our very physiology. We are made to shut down for a third of the daily cycle. One of the quickest ways to lose perspective is to cheat ourselves out of this God-given “off switch.” But practicing the discipline of rest requires more than a biologically-induced pause. It requires deliberate choices: deciding to rest one day in seven and choosing to take our allotted vacations. I believe it even involves fasting—giving our bodies a break from the tyranny of our appetites.
- The Discipline of Recreation. There is a difference between amusement and recreation. The former leaves us more tired than we started. (Ever taken a trip to Disney World and come back more exhausted than you left?) Yet the latter refreshes us and grounds us. Recreation involves any activity that gives us the opportunity to express our creativity. For some, it might involve painting, writing, or playing a musical instrument. For others, it might even involve rebuilding an engine or baking a cake. These activities never seem urgent, but they are vitally important.
- The Discipline of Relationships. Arguably, this is the most important. You and I were made to live in relationship to others. In fact, the very foundation of reality is relational. Before the world was created, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, lived together in perfect love and unity. But in a world of social media and faux connections, we must be intentional about building authentic relationships and real community. This means making time—quality time—for our family members and friends. It means taking the initiative to invest in those we love.
Question: Which of these disciplines is most important to you in nurturing your heart?
Lifestrong shares the importance:
Your heart is a muscle that sits on the left side of your chest. It is about the size of your fist, and it beats, on average, about 70 times each minute. When you start to work, your muscles need more oxygen and sugar to make fuel. Your heart works faster to deliver these components to your muscles. When you relax at the end of the day, your heart slows down because your body does not need as much fuel. A healthy heart keeps all your body systems working.
How the Heart Works
Your heart is the central point for blood to release waste products and recharge with oxygen. Returning blood fills the right upper chamber, or atrium, of the heart. Next the muscle contraction pushes the blood down into the lower chamber or ventricle. From the ventricle, blood is pumped into the lungs to drop off waste products and pick up fresh oxygen. Oxygenated blood returns to the left upper chamber of the heart. The next heartbeat pushes it into the left ventricle, and then out into the body. The electrical system of the heart sends signals that cause the muscle to contract. The signal begins at the sinoatrial node, or SA node, and travels down through muscle fibers in the ventricles to make them contract.
If your heart is not healthy you can experience many problems. If the electrical system of your heart does not work properly, you could have an irregular heartbeat. Your heart could pump too fast or too slow. A fast heart rate is tachycardia. A slow heart rate is bradycardia. If the heart pumps too slowly, blood does not circulate fast enough to give your tissues and organs the needed oxygen and nutrients.
Weak Heart Muscle
Heart muscle is typically very strong. If the muscle becomes damaged from a heart attack or lack of oxygen to an area of the muscle, it becomes weak. This is heart failure. This prevents the heart from contracting hard enough to push blood out into your circulatory system, or to pump blood through the lungs to pick up oxygen.
There are many diseases and conditions that affect the way your heart works. Each one can cause different symptoms, but they all alter the way your heart works. Once your heart is damaged, all of your body tissues and organs suffer the consequences. Lack of oxygen and nutrients to body tissues causes them to start deteriorating. Lack of circulation to the brain alters your level of consciousness. It is important to keep your heart healthy and strong to keep your brain and body healthy.