Purposed Parent/Connected Child Podcast Episode 020 - Teach Your Children Not to Follow Their Heart
Welcome to the Terri Hitt – Purposed Parent/Connected Child Podcast
Episode #020 –Teach Your Children Not to Follow Their Heart
Are you yearning for greater connection with your child? Would you like to parent beyond the moment with eternal perspective? Let’s grow together now with practical tips, scripture, and stories geared to draw your heart to Jesus and guide your child into His arms.
Listen to your heart. You’ve probably lost count of the number of songs that have used this line. How many times have you been given this advice? Or maybe you’ve even given it to given it to your child without thinking? Human nature tells us to seek the emotions and thoughts stored inside to lead us. But Galatians 5:17 warns, “For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want.”
I have a personal story that illustrates these thoughts. When I was a child, we moved a lot. In fact, I lived in 8-10 homes by the time I was 12. One of the first things I would do when we settled into our new place was go get a library card. Books were one of the biggest joys of my childhood, as well as the blank spiral notebooks I would use as journals.
Every day of my childhood was spent doing some form of reading or writing. Whether it was poetry, short stories, or simply journaling moments, writing helped me process and understand events. Words have always held life for me. They can also hold death. If we aren’t careful, the words we speak or write can become what breaks or makes the confidence, accomplishment, faith, or eternity of another person. Now that I’m older and my walk with Christ is deeper, I understand the necessity of prayerful reliance on God’s direction and timing.
Something just as – or more - important as the tongue is our heart. Or I should say the conditionof our heart. Words we speak or write to influence do so in ways we may never know. This world constantly fills our mind with the message that we should follow our heart. We should do what feels right or feels good. If I followed my heart, I would probably still be trying to make it as a mainstream fiction writer.
By my early forties, I had written a few novels, and dreamed of one day having them accepted and published. Of course, Oprah would have me on her show and my book would be chosen as the book of the month for her popular book club. I wrote what I wanted, although I had no experience or track-record, so no one was interested in even letting me submit sample chapters. Next I wrote what everyone told me would get published. Every moment I lived and invested by working on that romance book I disliked writing affected the words and storyline I wrote and I know it was quite obvious; I didn’t believe the characters or plot. Neither did the agents who allowed me to submit it for consideration. When I began my next novel, a mainstream romantic thriller, it was obvious by my writing history that I had nothing to guide me clearly.
Finally, I began the book heavy on my heart. I was working on a Christian mainstream novel and was far into the characterization, plot, and details. I even drew a map of the city I saw in my head so that I could keep storylines consistent. I found characters that resembled the people I saw in my head and cut them out of magazines and kept them on my desk as encouragement to fuel their storylines. A long index box full of the multiple chapters and storylines, as well as every detail I’d need about the individual characters sat on my desk for reference when needed. I knew their fears, successes, body types, birthdays, memories, and motivations.
I was probably about one-third of the way through the first draft (plus had all of my plotting and characterization detailing finished) when I clearly knew God was calling me to put the book away. Unfinished. He didn’t want excuses or bargains. He wanted obedience. Immediate obedience. I was sad to let it all go, but I did. Yet, as I released the dreams and promises of the people who existed not only in my head, but lived in my heart as well, I felt the peace of obedience.
Do you know what God had for me instead? After that book was put away, my Heavenly Father showed me a different path for my future. One I previously knew nothing about. In a nutshell, He made it clear that my husband and I had a daughter in China. The Lord didn’t want me focusing attention on crafting a book; His plan called for me to disciple a life.
My future was at a cross-roads. I could leave the life my heart told me I wanted or trustwhat God offered. Writing fiction was not the narration of my story, no matter what my heart felt.
It wasn’t until a few years later that I began occasionally blogging sweet and encouraging life stories that mostly had to do with my daughter who was about four years old by that time. Then many years passed before I knew God called me to begin crafting the “Live With Eternal Perspective” podcast and I began posting and blogging about it.
I’m sharing this story because it is so easy for each of us to think we know what we want or we are supposed to do. We think our heart is directing us in one direction. Or sometimes we are led by parents who see something in us, just as you probably see the gifts, interests, and talents your child carries. What is important, however, is waiting on the direction and discernment of our Lord. God crafted such intimate and purposed details into every human on this earth.
Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight.”
If we are not purposed in following God’s direction, we easily distract our children and forfeit the best God has for them.
Even when we see that our child has an obvious talent in some area, we must seek direction from God. How does He desire us to guide our child? Don’t be the one who guides your children down a path that is far from what He desires for them. Who knows the mind or plans of God without careful prayer, discernment, and direction from Him?
Reliance on following our heart not only keeps us (and our children) from God’s best, but it can also lead to dangerous situations or decisions we later deeply regret.
God knows our heart is untrustworthy. In fact, He warned us in Jeremiah 17:9, which says, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?”
This world pushes for us (and our children) to follow self. So many speak of self-care and listening to what our heart tells us. All that does is increase the selfishness already existing inside.
1 John 3:20 says, “If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and He knows everything.”
The hardest obstacle to ignore is the language and guidance of this world. Advertisements, books, magazines, movies, television shows, friends, family, teachers, and even strangers love to tell our children to follow their heart. Do what feels right at that time. Our human hearts are fickle and without understanding or discernment from God, our thoughts and feelings are based on what we have experienced in a fallen world. How can this be a moral or godly guideline? Is this what you want for your child to follow or rely on?
Luke 6:45 says, “A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.”
Only through Christ may we acquire a heart that is willing to surrender to God’s purposes.
How do we teach our children not to follow their heart? Through the Lords’ strength and Scriptures, we must teach our children 3 important truths.
1. They must seek God’s heart. Deuteronomy 30:6 says, “The LORD your God will circumcise your hearts and the hearts of your descendants, so that you may love Him with all your heart and with all your soul, and live.”
2. They must guard their heart. Proverbs 4:23 says, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”
3. They must purify their heart. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”
Only Jesus can shepherd our children away from the futility of following a haughty heart.
It is onlythrough the Lord’s strength that we can rely on His wisdom and direction instead of reverting to self and feelings or emotions and carry the ability to teach our children to rely on Christ.
If our children follow what they believed their heart said to do, they would carry no values. Three would be no moral compass, no right or wrong by which to discern actions. Selfishness, heartbreak, embarrassment, and regret will cause division from friends, family, and faith.
Our children’s’ hearts were crafted by God to desire Him, to be led and directed by Him. As their parent, we are hand-chosen by God to be the one to disciple and direct them to Him. It is our responsibility and privilege to be the one to guide them to His feet and His heart.
2 Thessalonian 3:5 says, “May the Lord lead your hearts into a full understanding and expression of the love of God and the patient endurance that comes from Christ.”
As the one in charge of shepherding the hearts of our child to Jesus, we must realize what following heart really means. The words are actually a sentiment with no real substance. The phrase, “follow your heart” is a fluffy, sweet filling that taste good when we swallow it, but causes pain when we live with the consequences of ingesting worldly advice.
Dear Heavenly Father, You reign over the heavens and the earth. How great You are. Thank you for Your lovingkindness and grace toward us and the children you have entrusted to us. There is none like You. Help us to follow Your decrees willingly and joyfully. Help us to carefully keep Your laws and never mentor following the human heart. Instead, may our children see us draw near to You, our God, with sincere hearts and with assurance that only faith can bring, teaching that Your will and ways, Your commands and promises offer so much more than we can imagine. In the precious name of Jesus we pray. Amen.
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Remember, if we are not purposed in knowing Jesus ourselves and showing Him to the next generation, the world will direct them away from Christ. I pray that what you hear on this podcast draws you nearer to God and helps you cling to Him, despite any circumstances in your life. Until next week, keep looking Up while focusing on new ways to Parent and Connect With Eternal Perspective.