Maybe you’ve heard them on Oprah. Perhaps they were thrown into that graduation speech last June. It could be that you’ve even said them yourself — statements that can have a negative impact, especially when we say them to kids. Although they might seem innocent and even inspiring, they can be destructive frameworks for how we, and kids, view God and others. I love to have fun, but no joke here. These are dangerous phrases that so many Christians believe.
“Just Follow Your Heart.”
I understand the intention behind encouraging someone to do this. We should all realize that when it comes down to it, we have to make our own decisions. Culture will throw suggestions or even mandates at us from every direction. Some are good. Most are bad. So this phrase stems from the idea that we should shut out the cacophony of outside influence and simply “follow our gut.” “Go with your feelings.” “Just follow your heart.” I’m tired of hearing it at elementary school assemblies. It’s sad to say, but I’ve even heard it at a few Christian camps in recent years.
Here’s the problem: The heart is flawed. It has been since the fall of mankind in Eden. Read Jeremiah 17 and then hone in on verse 9. It is pretty clear. Following our heart is akin to, as my former pastor would say, “Driving endlessly on life’s cul-de-sac of stupidity.” Time and time again we demonstrate how corrupt we are. Even if, occasionally, we make the right decision, we run the risk of believing that our way is the best way. Isaiah 55:8-9 declares that God’s ways are always higher than our ways. I wouldn’t want to chance it.
So what of those great heroes in history? What about those people that went against “the flow?” Didn’t they follow their hearts? Some probably did. We don’t ever hear about those who “followed their hearts” but failed miserably. In most cases, I tend to think that most of our great heroes in time didn’t actually follow their hearts, they followed God’s.
In your life and ministry, remind your kids to seek and follow the heart of God, not their own. They should only listen to “that little voice” when it comes from their Creator. In time, that voice might become stronger…but it always has to be His… His heart in us.
Jeffrey Reed serves as the Director of Kids Ministry for Lifeway. He came to Lifeway with a wide variety of ministry experiences including worship leader, director of children’s ministry, and executive leadership in several growing congregations. Jeffrey’s posts will give your heart and brain a workout, just like the fitness Boot Camp he leads in the mornings for Lifeway employees. Jeffrey and his wife Katherine have 4 kids.