Learning to move from servant to King (Jn 15:15) has many facets, but one of the biggest is connecting with your own heart. It’s not just being willing to explore the desires of your own heart. It’s also the realization that God wrote those desires on our hearts for strategic reasons that unfold throughout our lives.
In the west we are very prone to believe that we can change our minds and take a different direction. In reality, 90% of our decisions come right out of our heart or subconscious, and “change” is much more difficult than mentally absorbing new information and exerting our will. Our hearts are driving the bus of our present behavior in ways most don’t understand, whether it lines up with what we want or is exactly the opposite. The way we approach education with no thought of touching hearts is very flawed. More information and more intellectual reasons seldom accomplish a heart change. More external leadership, hierarchy, accountability and discipline are prone to failure for the same reason. It’s all outside our heart. The genius of knowing Jesus is that we can change from the inside out; “religion” is premised on perpetual management of all those “unmanageable” desires and feelings. The former is rest, the later is a pharisaic life sentence to perpetual trying and periodic failure in self-discipline.
“This is the resting place, let the weary rest”; and, “This is the place of repose” — but they would not listen. 13 So then, the word of the Lord to them will become: Do and do, do and do, rule on rule, rule on rule; a little here, a little there — so that they will go and fall backward, be injured and snared and captured. Isa 28:12-13
How do hearts change? – Let’s start with a negative change. People naturally develop bitterness, unforgiveness and fear from some kind of negative experience. It usually has roots in feeling hatred or being attacked. By the same token, positive change at a heart level comes exactly the same way… from an experience. We change at a heart level when we experience love, acceptance and forgiveness. It’s even better when we experience those things from God. The gospels and Acts are full of parables and teaching. However, virtually all of those exchanges of information were accompanied by a spiritual gift or some manifestation of God’s presence… healing, the prophetic, a miracle, etc. It’s the goodness of God that leads us to repentance or change at a heart level. The earmark is always an experience.
“Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” Luke 24:32 NIV
We frequently see this “experience” factor in conferences and at a personal level. If God is present, and people feel loved by us and by the Lord himself, hearts are very receptive. If we don’t feel loved, we are also naturally resistant to change or new information, and we become intellectually argumentative and arrogant about defending our “thoughts.” Those thoughts have unseen roots in our hearts, and very good historical reasons for being there. We are all presently driven by exactly what is presently in our hearts.
Getting in touch with my own heart – Knowing that my heart has very good (albeit hidden) reasons for my behavior is a basis for starting where I’m at. God loves us while we’re still in our problems. If I’m “automatically” doing something or heading in some direction that I want to reverse, my first priority is simply shopping for the reason that my heart is going in that direction (rather than trying to ignore it and cover it up with attempts at right behavior). Most often there are multiple occasions in our history from which our hearts develop a logic for our behavior and heart beliefs. If those connections are not easily visible, the Lord can gently remind us of a past connection on our own, or a coach with a good heart connection and a bit of wisdom and prophetic gift can help us see it, as well.
The purposes of a man’s heart are deep waters, but a man of understanding draws them out. Prov 20:5 NIV
Once I can see the reason (connection) that my heart has for wrong behavior, I can give my heart a better reason for right beliefs and actions. We use a “heart boundaries” worksheet to navigate this step in our coaching process.
There are many insightful characteristics of being in touch with your own heart, such as these 10:
1. You can be yourself – Getting in touch with your heart is learning that it’s OK to be you. It’s OK to sort through wrong heart beliefs to get the right ones. Our choices are to ignore them, hide them or fix them. Ignoring them looks like religious privacy all the way to a pharisaic cover-up – hypocrisy. Hiding them looks like a minefield waiting for an accident. Dealing with them and the feelings that go with our heart beliefs feels like being human, forgiven, a child of God.
2. Transparency – When we are connected with our own hearts and we deal with the issues, there are no secrets. We can admit to ourselves and others what our heart’s desires are, how they are changing and where there have been struggles. It frees us to be very natural and open with other people.
One other little secret – everyone on earth can tell if we’re connected or not. When people complain about hypocrites in church, they are not really pointing to the occasional Pharisee. They are pointing to the fact that most Christians are not connected with their hearts… they are driven by a standard set by others (even God’s law) that is not “natural” even for them.
3. Enthusiasm – Connecting with our own hearts and ridding our lives of boundaries and baggage frees us to really be passionate, creative, excited, fulfilled, prosperous… all the ingredients that lead straight into the Kingdom. Finally, our lives naturally flow and work. The greatest place to look for the will of God (Biblically) is right inside the desires of your own heart. Obedience alone does not define spiritual maturity for a Christian.
4. Freeing others – The next thing that happens is that we start accepting other people where they are at. We are able to help them get in touch with their hearts. It’s much easier to see their heart’s desires and help them make progress. In fact, it’s much easier to be prophetic. This whole process helps us access the heart of God and the heart of other people. It’s very prophetic and helpful in practical ways. Most of all, it feels like love. When we know one another at a heart level and share our deepest heart’s desires, it’s very easy to love one another.
5. Promoting others – When we connect with our own hearts and help others connect with theirs, we become channels to help them succeed in life. We understand that we’re all part of the same Kingdom team, and we share a sense of victory when our friends break through. Our conversation is naturally built around two questions, 1) “What’s your dream?” and 2) “How can I help you take the next step?”
6. Team work – I’m aware of my own strengths and direction, and have the same awareness of those around me – their heart’s desire and direction. It becomes very natural to put the puzzle pieces together and form a team, delegate and organize around our hearts. Other people feel appreciated and valued and respected. It’s great for business. We are not peace-keepers as much as peace-makers.
7. Listening – We learn to hear what a person’s heart is saying rather than just focusing on their words and actions. Hurting people often camouflage their true heart beliefs with very pious words and deeds. Instead of reacting to their cover, we can see the God’s writing on their hearts and help them connect with their true heart and with God’s heart. I’m not listening to their words as much as hearing their heart.
8. Divine encounters – It becomes very unnatural to just share “our” information. We see people in terms of where they are in terms of being connected with their hearts and share only those things that might help them take the next step (their information). We’re helping people connect to an experience with the Holy Spirit that will justify a heart change. Gifts often flow through us for their sake… particularly the prophetic and wisdom. The process of helping another person with Jesus as the third party is so much fun that we are emboldened to “go to the back row” to reach out to those who need help overcoming the boundaries in their own hearts.
9. Accountability – Accountability from others or self-discipline from ourselves simply doesn’t work if I’m working against my heart. Real accountability is me holding you responsible for your own hearts desires and dreams – something you are already motivated and created to do (by God). The traditional view is that I would hold you accountable for my vision and agenda instead of yours.
10. Networking – Once we both understand the other’s heart direction and goals, it’s an easy next step to find other people who can help you to take the next step. Networking is a huge follow-up component to being connected with your own heart. It’s also a very practical business advantage. One of the by-products of coaching is that we see one another’s heart plan. I’ve become personal friends with everyone I’ve coached because relationships are a natural byproduct of heart connections.
The greatest insight is that people who are connected with their own hearts are successful in business, in life, and in relationships. Great accomplishments are preceded by connected hearts and motivated people who are doing what they naturally enjoy… fulfilling a destiny because they have tapped into the reason they are here. Their work is worship and their accomplishments are crowns laid at the feet of Jesus. They is us… we’re destined for something great, each one of us.
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