You see this saying everywhere. T-shirts, memes, signs. It’s a common phrase seen and uttered. I’ve been thinking about it lately as we help our eighteen year olds make decisions for their future. It’s not always an easy discussion and there can be anxiety tied to it as they try to decide what to pursue. But, to be honest, we haven’t once told our boys to “follow your heart”.
Why not? Well, at first it may seem like good advice. Follow your heart can mean follow what you’re passionate about. It can mean do what you want to do. It can mean figure out what you’re good at and do that. But, ultimately, if we look at what the Bible says about our hearts, well then… we see that this really isn’t good advice at all.
Jeremiah 17:9 says, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure.” I don’t want my kids to “follow their hearts” because our hearts can’t be trusted. We are selfish beings, pushed about by our selfish desires. We really actually have to fight against our hearts and seek what God wants us to do instead. It seems easier to just do what we want or pursue what we are passionate about, but it may not be what God wants for our lives.
So, then what are we supposed to do?
“Ask and it will be given to you, seek and you will find, knock and the door will opened to you.” Matthew 7:7
“Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. 8 Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.” Joshua 1:7-8
We need to encourage our children, not to follow their heart, but to pursue God, his wisdom, and his Word. It struck me in these verses that if we remain in His Word AND obey it, then we will be successful and prosperous. It’s fully possible that what my boys need to do in life isn’t necessarily what they are totally passionate about.
In reality, passions change with time. They also change with ability. Look at athletes. They can’t be star athletes their entire lives. Why not? Because they age, their abilities lessen as their body ages and changes. It might be a passion and they can enjoy it, but it doesn’t mean it will sustain them their entire life.
I know a man who is amazingly gifted with the guitar and music. His desire was to be part of a Christian band, but after a while God closed that door. While it was sad for him, he also saw more clearly the path God really wanted him to pursue and he’s working hard for Jesus daily. He still loves music and worship and finds time for it, but just because it’s a passion, doesn’t mean it had to be his career.
I think often of this in the morning when I wake up. I usually wake up with the weight of my day on me before I even get out of bed. I usually pray about it, about all the busyness, about the attitudes I’m about to face. Honestly, many days, if I were following my heart, my kids would be heading off to school on the big yellow bus. But, I’m not called to follow my heart. I’m called to follow my God. And he asks me to keep my kids at home, teaching them his ways, truth, and commands. It doesn’t look the same for everyone. You have to ask God what your path is.
We’ve tried to instill in our boys that it’s okay to pursue what your good at and what you find interesting if 1) that’s where God wants you and 2) if it will provide you a good income. There are plenty of interests that will never provide a good income and should just remain a hobby.
Maybe instead of “Follow Your Heart” the t-shirts, signs, memes should say “Pursue Your God”. After all, that’s what we were put on earth for.