“But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.’”―1 Samuel 16:7
Since 1999, I have developed a “One Word” vision for the entire year. This foundational discipline helps me approach each new year and provides clarity, purpose and life-change. It gives me laser-like focus on who I need to become, not just what I need to accomplish. Most recently, my One Words have included: Serving, Grace, Refresh and Generous. They’ve marked me with mission and meaning. Each word has become a chapter in my life story.
My One Word for this year is Heart. I’m asking the Lord for a hungry, expectant, abundant, real, tenacious heart. I want to be full of wisdom and growing every day.
It takes heart to do anything in life. Coaches motivate their teams by saying, “Go out there and play with all your heart. Leave it all on the field!” Skills and talents are important but leading with heart separates the good from the great. When my daughter was younger, she would look at me while playing her basketball games and I pounded my hand on my heart. It was my secret sign encouraging her to play with all her heart. Playing, leading and living with heart is all about drive, passion and desire.
“You change your life by changing your heart.”―Max Lucado
Dan Webster, my good friend and leadership expert, describes the concept “Leadership of the Heart” as the below-the-water-line stuff that matters the most. Just like an iceberg that is 10% above the water and 90% below, we often only work on the 10% that shows in our lives. The 10% that Webster calls the “work of the work” includes our skills, strengths and talents. The uncharted territory that lies 90% below the surface, what he calls the “work of the heart,” includes our character, beliefs and convictions, which make up the majority of a person.
“It is not your experience, knowledge or skills. Your heart is your most important leadership tool.”― Michael Hyatt
The Bible talks about the heart more than 1,000 times! The Lord even told Samuel He looks at our internal hearts, not the external stuff. God is more concerned about our 90%. I don’t know about you, but this motivates me to lead from my heart and be sold out to Jesus. And there is a daily drive to spend more time investing and developing my heart.
God’s love should be deep within our hearts. Nothing and no one should change that. Circumstances should not and cannot ever impact our relationship with God. This is why in Proverbs 4:23 Solomon instructs us to protect our hearts: “Guard your heart above all else, for it is the source of life.”
One of the blessings of serving with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes over the years is hearing the life stories of men and women around the world who give their all when it comes to loving God with all their heart. One of those stories comes from Peter, who serves in a closed country and has been imprisoned for his faith seven times. He knows there will probably be an eighth, and he lives with that pressure daily. He told me that while he is in prison, they beat him and tell him to deny his faith. He replies to his captors, “How can I deny Jesus when He lives in my heart?” He understands the heart is the source of life. Peter motivates and inspires me to love God with all my heart.
Here is an easy H.E.A.R.T. acronym to remember how to love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength.
- HUNGRY Heart: Is your heart fully committed? Are you devouring the Word of God? Do you pray without ceasing? Is your heart soft and teachable? Are you a know it all? Or are you a ready-to-learn leader?
- EXPECTANT Heart: Do you expect great and mighty things from a great and mighty God? Are you asking God for more? Do you expect spiritual breakthrough in your life? Do you believe the best is yet to come?
- ABUNDANT Heart: Is your heart full of God's love? Is it overflowing with thankfulness? Are you willing to sacrifice for others? Do you have a generous heart that desires to give rather than get?
- REAL Heart: Are you the real deal? Does your heart beat with integrity? Do you have an honest, open and transparent heart? Do you have an obedient heart? Are you pursuing a blameless life? Are you an authentic leader?
- TENACIOUS Heart: Do you have tenacity and fortitude? Are you willing to press through tough times? Do you have perseverance and resolve? Are you trusting God more and more each day?
Do you have a hungry, expectant, abundant, real, tenacious heart? Let’s focus on the real work ― the work of the heart!
Dan Britton is the Chief Field Officer for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. He has served FCA since 1990, and since 2013, has led FCA’s international efforts, traveling extensively around the world, as FCA works in 92 countries, training thousands of sports leaders, coaches and athletes.