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“Follow your heart” is a creed embraced by billions of people. It’s a statement of faith in one of the great pop-cultural myths of the Western world — a gospel proclaimed in many of our stories, movies, and songs.
Essentially, it’s a belief that your heart is a compass inside of you that will direct you to your own true north if you just have the courage to follow it. It says that your heart is a faithful guide that will lead you to true happiness if you just have the courage to listen and act. The creed says that you are lost and your heart will save you.
This creed can sound so simple and beautiful and liberating. It’s a tempting gospel to believe.
Until you consider that your heart has sociopathic tendencies.
Is This the Leader You Want to Follow?
Think about it for a moment. What does your heart tell you?
Please don’t answer. Your heart has likely said things today that you would not wish to repeat. I know mine has. My heart tells me that all of reality ought to serve my desires. My heart likes to think the best of me and worst of others — unless those others happen to think well of me, then they are wonderful people. But if they don’t think well of me, or even if they just disagree with me, well then, something is wrong with them. And while my heart is pondering my virtues and others’ errors, it can suddenly find some immoral or horribly angry thought very attractive.
The “follow your heart” creed certainly isn’t found in the Bible. The Bible actually thinks our hearts have a disease: “the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). Jesus, the Great Physician, lists the grim symptoms of this disease: “out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander” (Matthew 15:19). This is not leadership material.
The truth is that no one lies to us more than our own hearts. No one. They don’t tell us the truth, they just tell us what we want. They are not benevolent, they are pathologically selfish. In fact, if we do what our hearts tell us to do we will pervert and impoverish every desire, every beauty, every person, every wonder, and every joy. Our hearts want to consume these things for our own self-glory and self-indulgence.
No, our hearts will not save us. We need to be saved from our hearts.
This Is the Leader You Want to Follow
Our hearts were never designed to be followed, but to be led. Our hearts were never designed to be gods in whom we believe; they were designed to believe in God.
If we make our hearts gods and ask them to lead us, they will lead us to narcissistic misery and ultimately damnation. They cannot save us, because what’s wrong with our hearts is the heart of our problem. But if our hearts believe in God, as they are designed to, then God saves us (Hebrews 7:25) and leads our hearts to exceeding joy (Psalm 43:4).
Therefore, don’t believe in your heart; direct your heart to believe in God. Don’t follow your heart; follow Jesus. He is your shepherd (Psalm 23; John 10). Listen to his voice in his word and follow him (John 10:27). Let him be, in the words of a great hymn, the “heart of [your] own heart whatever befall.” He is the truth; he is the way, and he will lead you to life (John 14:6).
Jon Bloom’s new book Don’t Follow Your Heart will help you heal, as well as avoid spiritual heart disease, by identifying and resisting your heart’s errant predilections and directing it to do all God’s will — to follow Jesus. This collection of helps for common heart problems is available free of charge in three digital formats.
Some fight analysts are considering it to be the biggest upset in the history of ultimate fighting. Others go as far as to say it’s the greatest sports upset ever.
A new name exploded onto the sports world Saturday night, as Holly Holm shocked the reigning champion, and burgeoning celebrity and actress, Ronda Rousey. Whether you’re a raging, cage-loving, UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) activist or simply a run-of-the-mill sports fan, chances are you have heard about the veritable fall of Goliath through the slingshot of David.
Many were quick to comment about how Rousey’s meteoric rise to fame, having newly become a household name, must have proven to be a distraction. While the believing and unbelieving alike pointed to the timeless truth of Proverbs 16:18 (“Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall”), I prefer to reflect on the unexpected path of Holm, whom I have known personally for many years.
Quiet, Humble Holly
Holly “The Preacher’s Daughter” Holm is a tried and true product of my hometown and current residence, Albuquerque, New Mexico. Raised in the home of a preacher (who officiated my wedding; Holly was a bridesmaid) and coming from humble means, Holly has carried herself with quiet confidence, yet she is no stranger to professional competition. As a nineteen-time world champion in the arena of professional boxing, she has breathed the tension-thick air of primetime events for fifteen years.
We went to the same high school, where as a senior she started training as a kickboxer at Winklejohn’s gym. Then Holly and my wife were roommates for two years in college. My wife went on the road with Holly when she had her first kickboxing bout in Phoenix. At our wedding, Holly knew my wife felt uncomfortable about doing “the dollar dance” to raise money for our new life together, so she rented a gorilla suit and devised a way to “kidnap” the bride and groom until the wedding guests could raise enough money for the ransom.
Subtle, Silent Victor
The shock factor in Holly’s upset of the world-famous champion, in my opinion, had little to do with the varying levels of athleticism, talent, and skill. The surprise had everything to do with the subtle and silent nature of this victory. Although Holly is known in kickboxing circles for her soft prowess and striking power in the ring, her most commendable attribute privately is her humility.
The reason the decisive outcome of this bout caught so many off guard is simple — Holly was quiet. Her quiet conduct, both in the octagon of UFC and in the ring of life, is a unique display of quiet confidence. Unlike Rousey’s manifest arrogance (tweeting unquotable obscenities about Holly the day before the fight), Holly knelt in concern next to her defeated and humiliated opponent. The Holly the world saw in the post-fight interview promoting her training team in sheer selflessness is the same Holly we see living in a way that is radically others-oriented. In other words, the quiet confidence that carried Holly into the octagon is the same quiet confidence that carries Holly in the entirety of her life.
The Underdog Victory
Something tugs on our heartstrings about a quiet, humble underdog victory. Jesus conducted his life in obscurity and selflessness. He was born in a backwater, in trying times, and was an underdog from birth. He was rejected and despised by the very people he came to help (John 1:11). His initial popularity came from the mass misunderstanding of him as a miracle-worker. However, his surprising rise to true world-changing fame came through quietness and humility.
The UFC now has a new kind of queen on the throne. The reign of this queen will have a fresh flavor, marked by humility and quiet confidence that echoes a true and better king. Such a counter-cultural reign, no doubt, will be underappreciated, even mocked, by the world. It won’t capture the attention and hype of a Rousey reign, but it will leave its mark, and remind us of the path and calling of the true champion.