"Don't just do what you have to do to get by, but work heartily, as Christ's servants doing what God wants you to do. And work with a smile on your face, always keeping in mind that no matter who happens to be giving the orders, you're really serving God" (Ephesians 6:6, The Message).
The heart is the very seat of our soul, our emotions, and our passions. It is the very essence of our being and that which drives our thoughts and our motives. No wonder God tells us to guard our hearts (Proverbs 4:23).
The heart of a leader is the foundation of her life. It is what drives her passion for the Lord and her passion for service in the kingdom. No doubt most of us feel called to lead in a deep way from the bottom of our hearts.
And yet, with seemingly little notice, out of our hearts can spew some of the most ungodly thoughts and attitudes—even in the midst of ministry. It was only a few weeks ago that something happened that totally unnerved me. Surely you know the feeling. I was less than thrilled with a situation (and in particular with one of my many bosses) and was just about to share from the seat of my emotions the most spirit-filled reaction to what was happening when God intervened. The person was not there for me to share with! And now I thank God for that. My spirit-filling was not coming from God; it was coming from the enemy. Even though I felt righteous in my motive, it certainly was not the best way to handle things. As leaders, we must be constantly aware that the enemy will do everything he can to render us ineffective in service to our Lord.
I had to come before the Lord and pray to him, "Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me" (Psalm 51:10). "Teach me your way, O Lord, and I will walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name" (Psalm 86:11). "Refresh my heart in Christ" (Philemon 1:20b). God gave me his promise in response, "I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh" (Ezekiel 36:26).
To be a servant leader, sometimes we just need to keep in mind that we are servants first and leaders second. We must learn to model Christ-like servanthood in every situation. God has chosen us to lead. Not only must we be strong and do the work, we must be strong in our wholehearted devotion to him and remember whom we are working for! He is in control of every situation. "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving" (Colossians 3:23–24).
"'And you, my son Solomon, acknowledge the God of your father, and serve him with wholehearted devotion and with a willing mind, for the Lord searches every heart and understands every motive behind the thoughts. If you seek him, he will be found by you; but if you forsake him, he will reject you forever. Consider now, for the Lord has chosen you to build a temple as a sanctuary. Be strong and do the work.'" (1 Chronicles 28:9–10).
Jaye Martin is the creator of HeartCall Women's Evangelism and is the women's evangelism strategist for the North American Mission Board (NAMB) of the Southern Baptist Convention. She also serves as director of women's programs at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (SBTS) in Louisville, Kentucky. This article was first posted on May 11, 2007 on GiftedforLeadership.com.
—How can you relate to the author's experience of being surprised by the ungodly condition of her heart? What was the result of that situation? How has God delivered you from circumstances like these?
—What Scripture verses, such as the ones the author mentioned, can you meditate on in order to help you guard your heart?