Healthy Heart, Healthy Leader

Rich Wilkerson Jr.

September 14, 2023
5 min read

Guarding is different from gated. To guard means to protect, to steward, to care for. Gated means closed off, shut down, frozen. When there are walls around our hearts, nothing can get in and nothing can flow out.

Rich Wilkerson Jr.

“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. Keep your mouth free of perversity; keep corrupt talk far from your lips. Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you. Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways. Do not turn to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil.” — Proverbs 4:23-27

We secure that which is priceless. We protect what is valuable. God is telling us that above everything else, our hearts should be guarded. 

Guarding is different from gated. To guard means to protect, to steward, to care for. Gated means closed off, shut down, frozen. When there are walls around our hearts, nothing can get in and nothing can flow out.

When a heart skips a beat, the body begins to die. As leaders, we are fighting to keep our staff and teams on beat and postured in unity. A strong leader knows how to draw out unity in a group of people. When the body is divided, there is nothing for the spirit of God to fill. When we fight for unity, we see progress. 

If we want to be healthy, we have to pause and take inventory of what’s resting in our hearts. We have to know who is there, what is there, and why those things are there. 

Here are five principles that will help lead us toward a healthy heart. 

1. Mind Your Mind

“For as he thinks in his heart, so he is.” — Proverbs 23:7

What we think is what we eventually become. Where are your thoughts leading you? What thoughts do you let linger? What thoughts are taking root in your mind and soul? 

As leaders, we have to master the art of resetting. We lose the day as soon as we lose our minds. If we can imagine it, God can exceed it — we just need a mindset reset. 

2. Watch Your Words

“...For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.” — Matthew 12:34-37

Immaturity speaks on accident — maturity speaks on purpose.

Words are a window to the heart. If my heart is corrupt, my words will follow. When it comes to what we say, the deposit we make must be bigger than the withdrawal. Affirmation and celebration must always be larger than our criticism and contempt. 

We should also be mindful of the people we allow around us. Access and responsibility go hand in hand. It’s okay to realize that some people are not bad, but they’re not good for me. Not everyone around us has access to everything we experience or process. We can choose who we allow in the circles closest to us.

3. Manage Your Money

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” — Luke 12:34

“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” — Matthew 6:24

Leaders either use money to bless God or they use God to get money. The only thing that breaks the grip of greed is the practice of generosity. 

We will never be effective ministers if we are always scared of not having enough; we have to move away from a scarcity mindset. Walking out what God has called us to do is a sacrifice. It requires deep faith and deep reliance on him, trusting that if his eye is on the sparrow, his eye is on us too. Everything we have is everything we need.

4. Forgive Your Foes

“Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed. “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.” — Matthew 18:32-35

Hurt is inevitable, forgiveness is optional. As leaders, let us forgive before they say sorry. Let us recognize that while we have been hurt, we have also hurt others. Healing is a process paved by forgiveness. Those who have been forgiven much love much. Let us be leaders that forgive quickly and love radically. 

5. Renew Your Repentance

“Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.” — Psalm 51:10-12

Repentance is a gift. While God clearly commands that we are to confess and repent when we sin, the opportunity to repent is a gift to us. God has “granted us repentance that leads to life” (Acts 11:18). 

Repentance is a daily decision to lay down our pride, tell God our missteps and mistakes, and turn away from our sin. It’s about walking in humility, knowing our human nature is sinful, but that God lavishes mercy and grace over us when we turn to him. God will meet us every single time we ask him to change our hearts. 

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