Proverbs tells us that The purposes of a person’s heart are deep waters, but one who has insight draws them out (Prov. 20:5).
I’s an important verse, especially for anyone who does any kind of Christian ministry. It reassures us that the skills we need to diagnose and help a struggling Christian are within our spiritual tool kit, if we access them. The truth of scripture, the wisdom that comes from mulling on scripture, and the application of those to the Christian in front of us will give us the godly insight we need to help.
That is, I think that verse helps those of us who give Christian counsel.
But flip it round a moment. I think we’re also being invited to use that verse to look at ourselves rather than others. To look in the mirror.
It’s called ‘self-leadership’, and it’s the hardest leadership task you’ll ever have.
You are a complex and complicated person. Billions of neurones, chains of DNA, how your parents treated you and what you had for lunch all contribute to your mood right now, and to how you react to the email that dropped into your inbox while you read this sentence.
Why do you act and react in ways that sabotage your ministry?
What is it about that person which triggers a flame of irritation?
What’s behind your low-level short fuse?
Your heart has purposes which are deep waters – good purposes, godly purposes, selfish purposes, unconscious purposes. Temptation and sin twine round them all, and the world, the flesh and the devil can make even your heart sing. For a while. For the while you want them to.
So look in the mirror of scriptures and hold it up to examine your own heart. Try to draw out your own hidden, painful purposes.
- Scripture tells us to search our hearts (Psalm 4:4), because God will also search them (Rev. 2:23)
- Scripture tells us to guard our hearts (Prov. 4:25), because God will also guard them (Phil. 4:7)
- Scripture tells us – Christian leaders and pastors – to keep watch over ourselves, because God is also watching over us, and the flock he has put under our care (Acts 20:28).
Don’t neglect the health of your soul. Draw out the purposes of your heart, with insight: put on grace, put sin to death, guard yourself.