Honing the Heart

Posted by on Jan 6, 2016 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

heart-693390_1280The empty nest is fast approaching for my wife and me. Our last of four will fly the coup in about a year. We absolutely love our kids and enter this new season deeply connected with them and grateful for the journey we’ve shared together. But it hasn’t always been a walk in the park.

First cries, first lies, rebellious no’s and dinnertime throws all made for some disheartening days. We started out believing that if we could just find the right technique, our kids would joyfully comply with our every wish. I know, pretty naïve. But so much of what we had seen and heard related to parenting was mostly about technique and behavior management.

It’s OK, you can chuckle at our expense. But if you’ve been there, standing at the edge of the parental abyss, wondering how you (and your child) are going to make 18 years together, you might be reaching for a tissue. We went through plenty of boxes … that is until we changed our focus.

We were spending so much energy (with the best of intentions) trying to point out what our kids needed to stop and change, we were failing to affirm them for the things they were doing well. Fortunately, someone told us, “Catch your kids doing stuff right.” That little piece of advice revolutionized our outlook as parents. We still had boundaries and consequences, but we made it our aim to celebrate every positive thing we could find.

I’d love to say revival swept through our family and we launched a reality show called “Heaven on Earth.” It didn’t, and we didn’t. But life got a whole lot sweeter around the Waldron house.

Despite the positive vibe we were feeling, another issue emerged that I want to focus on for the remainder of this post. It truly is the most important thing parents could ever address with their kids, but also the thing we most need to address in ourselves. I’m talking about the attitudes of our heart.

Years ago, Kimberly and I came across a resource that shaped our philosophy of parenting as much as anything (second, of course, to Scripture). Tedd Tripp wrote a book in the mid-90’s that was a huge breath of fresh air amid the countless parenting manuals on “behavior management.” It’s title – Shepherding a Child’s Heart – speaks to what most parents long to do, but feel ill-equipped to do as a result of a lifelong focus on performance rather than relationship.

It’s not that performance is irrelevant. It’s just that performance (obedience) is the fruit of relationship, not what forges relationship. Good works come after the reception of genuine spiritual life; they aren’t the means to getting it.

In fact, the Apostle Paul took several opportunities in his letters to the early churches to put “performance” in its proper place. In one instance, he lists glorious behavior, all reduced to noise when done without the motivation of love.

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.” (1 Corinthians 13:1–3, ESV)

Pretty astounding, huh! Angelic language, prophetic power, mountain-moving faith and even martyrdom; all meaningless apart from a right attitude rooted in love.

Jesus also confronted misaligned motives lurking in the hearts of Israel’s most religious elite.

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean. “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.” (Matthew 23:25–28, ESV)

We all have this remarkable ability to do what is right and good on the outside while harboring spiritual heartburn on the inside. We can actually learn to perform outward obedience, but do so with tainted motives, and ultimately undermine the quality of our actions before our omniscient heavenly Father.

So, whether parenting, coaching, managing or mentoring, it is vital that we make a big deal about attitudes of the heart, confident that God’s transforming work in all of our lives truly moves from the inside out.

Perhaps that was what Solomon had in mind when he urged his readers, “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.” (Proverbs 4:23, ESV) I’ve learned that nothing requires more attentiveness, more awareness in my life than the activity of my own heart (thoughts, emotions, intentions, etc.). And nothing gives me greater assurance than the promise, “God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” (Romans 5:5, ESV)

My prayer, then, for you (and myself) is, “that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:17–19, ESV)

*seen also at http://tri4him.com/blog/; Tri4Him is an international body of Christian triathletes united in sport and spirit.



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