“Your heart is the most important leadership tool you have. It is not your experience, knowledge, or skills. It is your heart that matters most of all.” 1
Technology can be a wonderful tool. However, everywhere we turn, we are overwhelmed with the negative effects of social media. In a time when temptation is rampant, it is more important than ever to give your kids a solid foundation. We must come alongside children and parents to encourage, assist, and equip them to guard their hearts.
According to Bible teacher J. Hampton Keathley, “Most people today want to be successful according to their own idea of success. However, as you listen to the success propaganda of today, again and again the focus of attention is on one of two things. First, the vast majority of thinking, writing, and talk focuses on the outer self—on how smart I can appear, what kind of impression I make, how much applause I register on the applause meter, how much I make, how much I own, how fast I climb the ladder of success in my company, and on the list goes. Very little that you read places any emphasis on the inner man, on the heart, the wellspring of our thoughts, motives, ambitions, values, and decisions. And second, when what you read or hear does place an emphasis on the heart, it generally does so in a completely self-centered way, even in a lot of Christian literature.” 2
In the following article, Dr. Scott Turansky emphasizes a heart-based approach that will help parents, teachers or ministers to guard our hearts.
The heart is where we wrestle with things. When experience, teaching, and values need to be integrated into life, it happens in the workshop of the heart. Information comes into our heads on a regular basis but much of it just stays there. Only when it moves down to our hearts does it become part of our lives.
When eight-year-old, Jordan, says to himself, “I’m no good. No one wants to be with me. I’ll never get it right,” he’s repeating negative things in his heart. Rebecca feels good in her heart because she refused to join those who were disrespectful to the teacher. Jack’s mom can see a heart problem because he scowls and complains whenever she asks him to do something. In each of these situations, children wrestle with things or come to conclusions about life and its challenges in their hearts.
When parents use a heart-based approach they take advantage of this wrestling inside a child. They feed nutritious information, contribute praise for growing character, and comment about the helpful and unhelpful internal dialogue as it makes its way out through behavior.
Jesus knew that the teachers of the law were struggling inside with the fact that he forgave the paralytic in Matthew 9:4. He says, “Why do you entertain evil thoughts in your hearts?” When in Luke 24 the two disciples on the road to Emmaus realized that their surprise guest was Jesus, they reflected on the experience by saying, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”
Too often parents focus only on behavior, things like getting jobs done around the house and completing homework. The real work of parenting is done in the heart. 3
Cultivating a Healthy Heart: 4 Keys
1. Reflection: Jesus was intentional about pulling away to pause and reflect (Mark 1:35). In today’s very busy world, we need to do the same. Praying and reading God’s Word are paramount to guarding our hearts.
2. Downtime: God made us and He knows that we need rest (Matthew 11:28-30). Those in ministry should be intentional about taking a day off every week with no exceptions. Ask your kids and spouse to hold you accountable.
3. Relaxation: Going to an amusement park is amusing and may be recreational, but it is far from refreshing. Romans 12:2 tells us that we are not to be conformed to this world and its ideas of renewal – we are to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. Try taking a leisurely walk, journaling, or reading a good book.
4. Connections: Today we are socially connected and digitally wired and we are fast becoming a disconnected generation. God works in community (Matthew 18:20). Spending quality time with family and friends provides great dividends.
Guarding a Child’s Heart
Ideally parents should be actively engaged in the discipleship of their children. In reality though, discipleship is the collective responsibility of the church. The following resources are designed to help you train kids and parents in righteousness. It is never too late to experience the life-changing message found in God’s Word.
DiscipleLand’s family of resources forms a comprehensive Children’s Discipleship System™ – an intentional, relational, and transformational discipleship process. Your children can achieve balanced growth in Bible knowledge, Christ-like character, and faithful conduct.
•Nursery curriculum (birth–age 3) includes everything your volunteers need to provide spiritual nourishment for your little lambs.
•Preschool children (ages 3–5) progress through Old and New Testament stories to discover God’s greatness and plan.
•Kindergarten kids (ages 5–6) overview the entire Bible and meet 48 different Bible personalities along the way.
•For the Elementary years (grades 1–6), choose from these options:
—Core Bible challenges children to become victorious disciples via 6 years of sequential Bible curriculum
—Adventure motivates kids to pursue their discipleship journey via essential Bible topics
—DiscipleTown equips kids with vital discipleship skills.
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1 Michael Hyatt. Web. 2012. http://michaelhyatt.com/
2 J. Hampton Keathley, III. Guarding The Heart. Web. 2012. http://bible.org
3 Dr. Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller, RN, BSN. Parenting is Heart Work.