How would those closest to you — your spouse, a close friend, or a team member — describe the melody of your life? Would they suggest a light-hearted Bach fugue or a dramatic Beethoven symphony? How would they characterize the tempo and the dynamics of your life?
“He was busy.”
“She made things happen.”
“He was always moving.”
Or would they say:
“Peace accompanied him.”
“Her life reflected Jesus.”
“He loved people.”
The tempo at which we live our life reflects the heart within. Jesus once said to a crowd of followers:
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me — watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly” (Matthew 11:28-30 msg).
Would you say your life is evidenced by “unforced rhythms of grace” and living “freely and lightly?”
As leaders, we are charged with creating a work culture that cultivates healthy hearts. Nothing could be more important for a successful organization, but it has to begin with us — individually.
I often find myself challenged with maintaining priorities and juggling responsibilities. On those days, I endeavor (not always successfully) to keep three questions in mind that point me back to Jesus.
Question #1: Where Am I Finding Hope?
Hope is key to a healthy heart. One of the primary passages
I turn to on this topic comes from the book of Jeremiah:
This is what the Lord says:
Cursed are those who put their trust in mere humans,
who rely on human strength
and turn their hearts away from the Lord .
They are like stunted shrubs in the desert,
with no hope for the future.
They will live in the barren wilderness,
in an uninhabited salty land.
But blessed are those who trust in the Lord
and have made the Lord their hope and confidence.
They are like trees planted along a riverbank,
with roots that reach deep into the water.
Such trees are not bothered by the heat
or worried by long months of drought.
Their leaves stay green,
and they never stop producing fruit” (Jeremiah 17:5-8 nlt-se).
This passage reveals the consequences of putting hope in people or in our own strength: (1) Our heart turns from God; (2) Our growth is stunted; and (3) We lose hope and become isolated (verses 5-6). As leaders, we are all familiar with these pitfalls.
When our hope and confidence is rooted in the Lord, we will be able to overcome days of intense struggle (verses 7-8). While we know this is true, it is easily forgotten or ignored — to our peril.
By staying connected to God, through daily prayer and short, God-focused pauses throughout the day, we can experience a well-watered life that produces fruit in keeping with God’s Spirit and his purposes.
Question #2: From Where Does My Pace of Life Flow?
Have you ever been around people who consider busyness a badge of honor? What perpetuates the lie that busyness is a fruit of the Spirit? The psalmist David can help us assess any unhealthy motives behind our decisions:
God, I’m not trying to rule the roost,
I don’t want to be king of the mountain.
I haven’t meddled where I have no business
or fantasized grandiose plans.
I’ve kept my feet on the ground,
I’ve cultivated a quiet heart.
Like a baby content in its mother’s arms,
my soul is a baby content.
Wait, Israel, for God. Wait with hope.
Hope now; hope always! (Psalm 131:1-3 msg).
Think about your motivations for saying “yes” or “no” to a fellow leader. Is there a subtle performance or power motivation? Are you driven to achieve more, to people-please, or do great deeds for the purpose of recognition? A need to perform or to manage results is a common malady for leaders. It often prevents us from cultivating a healthy rhythm in life for ourselves.
My wife Pam and I recently spent time with our newborn granddaughter. There are things you notice quickly about newborns. For one thing, when they are hungry they fidget, cry, and let everyone know they are discontent. After our granddaughter was nursed in her mother’s arms, she was content, satisfied, and at peace. Psalm 131:2–3 says we can be this content, sustained only through our relationship with God.
Which portrays your heart in the middle of a full day: peaceful satisfaction or unsettled discontent?
Leaders who boast a hectic pace of life might be characterized as fidgeting newborns, chasing satisfaction that cannot be found in achievements, speaking engagements, or cross country business trips.
Only as our schedules flow from contentment, found in the depths of God’s love, will we be truly satisfied.
Question #3: Who does God say I am?
The way we see ourselves — our identity — deeply affects our ability to live a life of trust (Jeremiah 17), and to live as a satisfied, nourished infant (Psalm 131). Do we define our identity by our societal status and occupation or is it grounded in something else? What we believe about how God views us changes everything!
In Galatians 4:6 and 7 the apostle Paul states a powerful truth:
“You can tell for sure that you are now fully adopted as his own children because God sent the Spirit of his Son into our lives crying out, ‘Papa! Father!’ Doesn’t that privilege of intimate conversation with God make it plain that you are not a slave, but a child? And if you are a child, you’re also an heir, with complete access to the inheritance” (msg).
Do you ever see yourself as a slave — shackled to the whims of people around you, without freedom, and stuck in patterns of sin or people pleasing? It feels hopeless at times. On the other hand, you may feel like a hired hand — someone who must perform to earn his keep. This can make us resentful and feel that our identity is connected inseparably to our performance.
Our ability to live at a God-guided pace is grounded in our identity as sons and daughters of God. Because of the work of Jesus Christ, we are adopted children, with all the privileges and inheritance of heirs of God. This truth has a great settling affect on my soul.
What could I possibly fear; I am a child of the King!
To create kingdom outcomes, we must focus on our heart connection with God. Only then can we create a work culture that cultivates healthy hearts. Remember these three truths:
1. Your hope is in God — not in people or projects.
2. Your pace of life can reflect contentment when you find your satisfaction in God.
3. You are a son/daughter of the King of Kings!