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The purposes of a man’s heart are deep waters, but a man of understanding draws them out. From an intellectual standpoint, listening is hearing the words and being able to repeat what was said. This recipe often totally misses the point of what’s in the heart. Communication at a heart level is the stuff of relationships, and it is a huge advantage in the workplace. Imagine going beyond words when we listen to people, and hearing their hearts. The reality is that we don’t know what’s down there, ourselves. Stuff comes out that even surprises us at times. 90% of everything we say and do comes right out of our heart.
The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks. Luke 6:45 NIV
Here are a few thoughts on getting below the surface.
1. There is a deeper level – Our brains are computers with a specific purpose. Intellect is all about how to do things. Heart, on the other hand, is why we do things, and it’s the organ we use to communicate with God (who is the real architect of our why’s). In a secular environment like school or work, there is no awareness that anything of value exists in our hearts, probably not even an awareness that we have hearts. A religious environment can be even worse because many traditions believe that our heart is the unique residence of evil that must be avoided. The theological term is “human depravity.” This presupposition makes us inclined to hear evil in everything we hear.
2. The purpose of the heart – Our hearts contain our “why’s.” The things we say and do that surprise us are really no surprise at all. Our hearts have a very logical reason for every word and every action. At this point, we can either learn the language of the heart or continue through the minefield of getting surprised by ourselves and others and the mysterious things that come out of our hearts.
3. What is written in our hearts – The script that contains the “why” behind our deeds is authored from two sources, life and God.
Life has written both positive and negative messages in all of our hearts. When something bad happens, we often create a vow in our hearts as a means of protection, “I’ll never let that happen again.” The problem is that to maintain that vow deeply in our hearts, or subconscious, the negative event needs to reoccur periodically to stay alive. Thus, our hearts can work against us in cycles of dysfunction. Child abuse translates into adulthood as marital abuse. Vows never to be like our parents translate to mirroring their actions for the rest of our lives. The negative traits of a bad father mysteriously show up in our husband. Get the picture? Things that we react to or find offensive are simply encounters with the script written on our hearts by our past.
God has also written his script in our hearts. We each have a destiny. We were each designed with purpose and calling. We do have to choose it, but when we do, God chooses us back. Many are called by God (we have something written on our hearts), but few are chosen (not everyone choses what God has written in our hearts). We choose God, He chooses us right back.
Listening – hearing hearts come with the realization that the words we hear are really echoes of the scripts in the heart. Here’s the best kept secret of communication. The words spoken have little direct meaning apart from interpreting them through the heart script behind them. No matter how bitter or hurtful the words may be, if you listen with your heart, you can probably also hear something about the script God has written on the person’s heart. If the words are sweet as honey, you may also be able to hear something about the deceit that may also be present in the heart.
Connected hearts – People who are connected with their own hearts are open and can transparently express their hearts without fear of exposing something terrible. People who are in touch with their own hearts are artistic, expressive, laugh freely, cry freely, and they carry a deep sense of passion. The purpose of their hearts are expressions of their Father’s heart. Their passions and words take on a prophetic quality because their hearts are in touch with the emotions and purpose of the Father’s heart.
Trading up – We all have baggage in our hearts that needs to be cleansed. Repentance or change isn’t just trying to corral the nasty things in our hearts. God designed us to change from the inside out. That simply means that we have to identify the lying script (with all the negative consequences) and exchange it for the script God has written in our hearts. Our hearts need a good reason to choose the path God has already put in our hearts. It’s really an easy choice if we can get deep enough to identify the competing scripts. One of the greatest relational thrills is helping others connect with, and choose, the adventure that God has written in their heart. Living that script becomes much easier once we see it in our hearts. It feels like having your dream come true… because it does! We use a step called heart codes in our coaching process to navigate this exchange – it works.
Want to know the biggest challenge? We just don’t take the time to do it. Sometimes the connections and the past are too painful, and it’s just more convenient to stay in the same dysfunctional rut. I frequently get to work with people willing to change their hearts. The breakthroughs are amazing. The experience of a heart change is always accompanied by the presence of the Holy Spirit. God shows up! I guess it makes sense – He’s the author and owner of the happy hearts who experience joy and pleasure in this life. The frosting is that when we are connected with our own hearts we can hear God’s voice much more clearly.
You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore. Ps 16:11