This is the key – most important aspect of all we do… who we are…
What does God tell us about the heart? Take time to look at each passage and note how it describes the heart and its impact on life and relationships. What other passages come to mind?
In the book of Genesis we learn that the heart of all people is wicked continually (Genesis 6:5). We also learn that God’s heart can be grieved by our heart (Genesis 6:6). We see that we are to love the Lord our God with all of our heart (Deuteronomy 6:5). The New Covenant promises us a His law written on our and mind (Jeremiah 31) In the Psalms we understand that our heart can either live in fear or with great courage (Psalm 31). We learn that we are to guard our heart at all cost (Proverbs 4:23). The Bible tells us plainly that our heart and that which we treasure are inextricably linked (Matthew 6:21).
Mark 6- 7 Three types of hearts
Mk 6:45-52 The hard heart (or calloused) – the disciples – “open your heart”. During the night following the feeding of the 5000 Jesus walks on water and joins the disciples in their boat. The disciples are completely amazed but lack understanding because their hearts had become hard. A hard heart is one that is dull, obstinate, or unresponsive. Isn’t it interesting that those who are closest to Jesus can be described as having hard hearts? Every time you see Jesus do a miracle in the Bible, there is always one of two responses from those who witness the miracle. Either their hearts become more tender and are moved towards faith, or their hearts become more hardened and they become more skeptical. The longer we lead the more we are witnesses to God’s amazing work. Question – Is your heart becoming more tender and more faith-filled as a result of all you’ve seen, or are you growing more skeptical? (pause and ask them to consider this)
Mk 7:1-13 The distant heart - the Pharisees – “remove the mask”. The Scribes and Pharisees question Jesus and the disciples on their adherence to Jewish Law and traditions. Jesus calls them hypocrites. They were guilty of having “distant hearts”- their hearts had moved far away from the heart of God that is reflected in Jesus. The end result was a form of hypocrisy that lived out a rules-based leadership devoid of compassion. Hypocrisy is a Greek theater term that means “wearing the mask.” The notion is that we project outwardly an image towards those we lead, but the inward reality is something altogether different. We are not consistent. We lack integrity. We have reduced our leadership to production, protection, and rules. But a whole-hearted leader is the same on the inside as on the outside, and therefore is a compassionate leader. Question – Is your outward image reflecting your inward reality? (pause and ask them to consider)
Mk 7:24-30 The humble heart – the Syrophoenician woman- “come as you are”. This woman brought all of herself to the situation-- her cultural identity, her desperate need, and her full emotions. She brought all of herself to Jesus. This woman quietly exhibits the right kind of heart—one that is desperate for Jesus and full of faith in Jesus. This is the humble heart. This is the whole heart that Jesus will honor. Deuteronomy 6:4, 5 reveals God’s greatest commandment to us, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your might.” Jesus repeats this exhortation in Matthew 22:37, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment.” Question – How are you at bringing your cultural identity, your desperate need and your full emotions to Jesus? (pause and ask them to consider)
Spiritual leaders should lead from the heart. But how do we rightly understand the heart? Movies and books would tell us that the heart is emotional, and nothing more. Hebrew perspective on our hearts is much more holistic. The biblical definition of the heart is that it encompasses our mind, will and emotions. It’s the center of our being which governs our thoughts, our responses and our actions. It’s the part of us that chooses every day. That being the case, the heart of a leader is incredibly important and leading from a whole heart is crucial to our effective spiritual leadership.
Allow participants to discuss this statement with a partner.
Every person needs at least a few relationships in which they are truly known and loved. A friend who truly knows us doesn’t require us to wear any mask, including the “ministry” mask. Deep friendships like this are so life-giving!
Read 2 Chronicles 16:9. What does this passage reveal about the importance of a leader’s wholehearted devotion to the Lord?
It is this type of heart that will see us through to the end of our leadership lives. We need governing centers that make much of Jesus and little of ourselves. A whole heart is one fully devoted to Jesus because it sees the greatness of Jesus. It sees our own desperation in light of His power and authority. The Bible is full of examples of leaders who do not finish well. Whether we look at Saul, Solomon, Jezebel, or all the kings of apostate Israel, the one characteristic of their failure was their idolatry. They loved something else more than Yahweh. Their hearts, their governing centers, were captured by something “less than”.
Have the group answer together or in small groups. There are many competing loyalties for the heart of a leader. These naturally competing loyalties have the danger of depleting our hearts and making us less effective. Possible answers: The pressures of the ministry task. The felt expectations of the organization. The intoxicating allure of fame and success. The artificial division between sacred and secular. Simply allowing the ministry to become our source of spiritual life. Unconfessed sin. Unresolved broken relationships. A drivenness that refuses the rhythm of Sabbath. A grasping for personal power, authority, and glory. Our self-protective strategies that keep us from living in authentic community.
Divide into small groups and identify one or two that are of the most concern personally. Share with a partner. Facilitator could share a personal example to start the interaction.
(If you have time…) Take a few minutes to work through the coaching process bridge diagram to look for change/new actions.
In a word, what most nourishes our heart towards wholeness, humility, and a right desperation is WORSHIP. Worship literally means “kissing the hand” of another. It is the language of acknowledging royalty. It was the action in ancient times of bowing and submitting to the sovereign reign of another, displayed by bending on one knee and kissing that sovereign’s hand. This view of worship is not merely captured in a church service through singing our favorite songs or experiencing a momentary emotional lift. Worship is our whole-hearted surrender to the greatness and completeness of God. It is an attitude of continual dependence on the part of a creature towards its Creator. Worship is the grateful response in its many varied expressions of a saved sinner toward its Redeemer.
Worship is not an activity. It is the proper disposition and inclination of our governing center towards God in all things.
Worship brings wholeness. Worship brings a proper humility. Humility is not thinking less of yourself. It is not thinking of yourself at all in light of the greatness of another. Desperation can drive us to worship. But worship will take us to the sure realization of God’s greatness, power, and authority. Worship is dependence. It flows from a posture of full surrender and a conscious understanding of the Spirit-filled life. Worship will lead to courage and compassion. Proper worship maintains our posture as a servant leader. And we desperately need servant leaders.
*** If God leads, consider distributing HS booklets and teaching thru that (mentioning specifically reference to the themes of “idolatry”, choosing something “less-than” God Himself…
We will now look at how to cultivate the heart of worship in a leader. (You may have come up with some of these ideas as you did your coaching process to find solutions to heart depletion.) You may also hear something new here that could help…
What are some of the ways to cultivate the heart of worship in a leader? Next slides will cover six ways to cultivate the heart of a leader.
#1 A leader who lives and leads in true community. True community is a place where there’s an experience of God and of interdependence as each person can bring their whole heart, including the best and the broken parts, in order to be loved, challenged and spurred on towards growing Christ-likeness.
#2 Self Aware A leader who is aware of his own story and how it shapes: His dignity as he reflects the glory of God. His depravity (brokenness) as he seeks life apart from God.
Self-awareness must become a regular discipline in our lives, so that we can accurately discern our spiritual health. “Self-awareness” doesn’t imply that we can do this all by ourselves. While it requires our personal commitment to walk in self-awareness, it should also encourage us to ask for others’ feedback as they help us see around our blind spots. [Reaffirm the use of the Growth Model. The article can be found in the teaching resources.]
See Revelation 3:14-22 for an example of believers who were not self-aware. Based on this text, how did their lack of self-awareness imperil them?
Self-awareness is not just knowing our own story, but owning it. How has God gifted you? What passions has He given you? Where do you tend to seek life apart from God?
This goes back to being a person of integrity – the same on the outside as you are on the inside. Take time to discuss what makes an authentic leader. Here are some possible answers: Is dependent. Offers life and doesn’t steal it. Knows their personal limits. Can be appropriately transparent with others.
#4 A leader who relates well to power and authority and who can and will empower others.
How do you relate with those in authority over you? Would others call you a good follower? How do you respond to having authority yourself? Are you able to give away not only responsibility to others, but also the authority to carry out what you’ve given them to do?
Possible interaction: Share stories of when they empowered others, or when they submitted to another’s authority.
#5 A leader who models intimacy with Christ through regular spiritual disciplines.
Spiritual practices nurture our relationship with the Lord and deepen our intimacy with Him as we walk with God through the seasons of our spiritual journey. Spiritual disciplines help us anchor our hearts in Jesus, whatever season of our spiritual life we are currently experiencing.
#6 Understands God’s part and our part
God invites us to co-labor with Him, but there’s a danger that we will lose sight of our “being” and become fixated on our “doing” as we serve Him. Jesus alone is the Savior and He calls us to be with Him first and foremost. Our serving comes as an outflow of our knowing and being known and loved by Him.
Optional: If you have time, consider Psalm 38:1-22; Romans 7:14-25; 1 Cor 2:3-5; 2 Cor 3:5, 1 Timothy 1:12-17, in small groups. How did David, Paul, and other spiritual leaders view themselves (even as they served in leadership)?
How does the Bible describe surrender, or submission, to Christ? (Matthew 16:24-25; Romans 12:1-2; consider John 3:30)
Other passages that emphasize “submitting to God” include Job 22:21, Proverbs 3:5-6, Hebrews 12:9 (to the Lord’s loving, wise discipline), James 4:7 (in preparation for spiritual battle).
All of our leadership expressions and our leadership development are founded upon this core issue of the heart. It is the first element of our Leadership Framework. Without an ever reforming heart we will never properly live out the roles and responsibilities of a leader.
It is critical that we give time and attention to our heart and to the development of these qualities that contribute to a whole-hearted leader.
Each person should take several minutes to reflect on two questions:
Question #1: “Is my heart more tender, moving towards greater faith as I see God at work? Or, despite seeing these great things, is my heart less tender towards Him and more skeptical?
Question #2: “Dig deeper… Why am I not moving towards greater faith? Based on my first response, who/what is my heart primarily relying on as I pursue ministry? What can I do to love God with my whole heart?”
Pray for each other.
(Another possible option: Have copies of Gary’s article to pass out and give time for reading/reflection/devo time using the article)