“Follow your heart.” It’s advice we read everywhere, especially on social media, usually accompanied by several sappy emojis.
One would think that its popularity suggests it is a universal truth – and some people think it is just that.
But, honestly, I think that’s why the world is in the ethical pickle it’s in today.
Okay, truth be told, the other extreme isn’t always better, is it? “Follow your brain.” While this has a certain appeal to many, when we do what is logical without regard for its impact on others, that can be scary, too.
When I work with people in the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator®, I often have to deal with questions surrounding the Thinking-Feeling continuum. Yes, thinkers feel, and feelers think; it’s just that for each, one is more reflexive, preferred over the other. (This is why working in teams is both very beneficial and sometimes challenging.)
So what’s so wrong with following one’s heart, then, if feelings are legitimate and important? Well, I don’t think I could put it any more clearly than did the Old Testament prophet, Jeremiah:
“The human heart is the most deceitful of all things,
and desperately wicked.
Who really knows how bad it is?” (Jeremiah 17.9, NLT).
The heart was seen in those days not as the seat of emotion (that was the bowels, if you can believe it!), but the seat of one’s life and strength. To talk about the heart in the Bible was to talk about the soul, the spirit.
And here’s Jeremiah, pouring rain on our parade. But he’s right. The Bible illustrates for us time and again just how untrustworthy our hearts can be. Heck, the news illustrates for us time and again just how untrustworthy our hearts can be.
Should we trust only our minds, then? All parts of us are under the curse of sin. But our redeemed hearts and our redeemed minds, in tandem, can be powerful tools for doing the work of God’s Kingdom in the world.
The trick is to ensure they are redeemed – not just once, but daily! When we invite the Lord to pour out his Holy Spirit upon us as each day begins, we engage in an ongoing conversion of our lives. And that prevents our hearts from becoming the “idol factories” that theologian John Calvin wrote about so many years ago.
So don’t focus on whether or not to follow your heart, or your mind. Follow Jesus, and be filled with the Holy Spirit. That’s what will make all the difference.