How do you guard your heart as a leader?
We had paused from the rhythm of daily life to intentionally care for our hearts. The Aspens were aglow, and the majesty of Pike’s Peak was visible in the distant background. The crisp air braced our lungs as my wife Kristin and I explored the spectacular beauty of the Colorado countryside. We thoroughly enjoyed these invigorating hikes during a Fall 2017 soul care retreat; an event that became a top highlight of our past year.
The retreat at The Potter’s Inn in Divide, Colorado was attended by pastors, missionaries and other Christian leaders. This break from our normal (busy) rhythms of life and leadership, allowed us to slow down and to hear God speak into our hearts and lives.
Steve and Gwen Smith led the retreat, along with their outstanding Potter’s Inn team. I had become familiar with Steve through reading his challenging and insightful book Inside Job: Doing the Work Within the Work (IVP Books, 2015). Both that book, and our time at the retreat, focused on the priority of soul care for leaders.
The need for a guarded heart
During the retreat, Steve brought our attention to Proverbs 4:23 which reminds us:
“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” (NIV)
We also read that verse from The New Living Translation which beautifully says: “
Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.”
That verse really resonated with me. Caring for our souls is not just another item to add to an ever-growing “to-do” list. It’s not something to tack on if we have time at the end of our more urgent leadership agendas. It is first priority.
The outcome of a guarded heart
Everything of eternal significance we may do as leaders flows from a well-tended soul. I like the way Smith captures this in another of his books, Soul Custody: Choosing to Care for the One and Only You (David C. Cook, 2010):
“As we care for the soul within us, our lives are transformed in many ways … But soul care is not just about focusing on ourselves. It is a very active and involved life. As we care for our own souls, we will inevitably become more aware of the dire condition of the souls around us. We will sense need. We will want to help. We can help to change the situation. But not if we are empty – not if we are depleted and burned out.”
That’s so true. Only as we prioritize communion with God can we lead in the restful and refreshed confidence of Jeremiah 17: 7-8:
“But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.”
Today, I am more deeply aware of the daily necessity of soul care as a leader. Like all of us, I’m still busy. I still live in the shadow of one of the world’s fastest paced cities – Washington, DC. But I have a renewed mindset, and a God-given commitment to guarding my heart. I hope you will join me in making care for your soul a priority in the year ahead as well.
How will you guard your heart as a leader in the year ahead?
How can we prioritize being with God over doing for God?
What steps can you take today to care for your soul?
W. Scott Brown is vice president for leadership experiences and resources for Christian Leadership Alliance (CLA), and editor-in-chief of the Alliance’s Outcomes magazine. He holds master’s degrees in Communications: Journalism and Public Affairs from The American University and in Liberal Arts from St. John’s College, as well as a bachelor’s degree from Liberty University.
Learn ways to refresh and care for your soul as a leader at The Outcomes Conference, April 17-19, 2018.
Come and experience the full-day intensive seminar entitled “Multiplying Leadership Impact through Sabbath” led by Peggy Reynoso, Staff Development & Care Consultant – The Navigators, and Roy & Margaret Fitzwater, Co-Directors – Navigator Church Ministries. Don’t miss this opportunity to grow, engage and refresh as a leader!