Seeds of Promise Series by Shenica Graham
Maximizing Ministry Part VIII
Twelve Tools to Help Heal Negative Heart Conditions
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The heart is at the root of all situations in ministry. If love fills the heart, love is multiplied through words and deeds. If something like jealousy fills the heart, the results can be damaging. How do you fix heart conditions? Some might say, just “get over it.” Does that feel easier to say than do? Heart conditions can make or break relationships in ministry because in the event of a misunderstanding, it is the condition of the heart that determines intent – and intent is a key factor in forgiveness. Good intentions help others to forgive unintended miscommunications.
Before we learn how to fix heart conditions, let’s clarify what we are talking about. Faith is a heart condition. Anger is also a heart condition. A heart condition in this context is any emotional or resulting state that drives the thinking and action of a person. This is because the “mind” that is in you (Philippians 2:5) refers to your thought process – which largely controls your behavior both inside (emotionally, mentally, and physiologically) and outside (verbally and physically (and non-verbally).
With the natural eye in good working order, one may see the facial features, vestments, etc. of another person. God sees the heart (1 Samuel 16:7) and knows its true spiritual condition. Did you know that most heart conditions have a common cure?
How can you identify heart conditions? Symptoms. Spiritual heart conditions manifest in symptoms called by God, fruits. There are both good and bad fruits, and good and bad symptoms. Good symptoms follow good fruits (Matthew 7:16-20). Bad heart conditions manifest in bad fruits and erode good fruits – like a bad apple that spoils the bunch. The good news for bad apples is that heart conditions, like many health conditions, can change for the better with proper care.
By this you may understand that the reason some eyes are blinded – after a spiritual heart attack, is because of bad heart conditions. Why is it important to examine and heal (where needed) heart conditions? Because negative heart conditions can stall the glory of God in your life.
Here are Twelve Tools to help Heal Negative Heart Conditions:
Apologize –An apology goes a long way. Your heart condition could be made better or worse based on someone else’s reaction to their belief that you owe them an apology. To apologize is not just to express guilt. It could be to express regret. If you do not feel that you are “guilty” of what someone wants you to apologize for, you can still muster an apology on the basis of regret that the other person has been affected so strongly in a negative way. You could even apologize just to keep the peace. Can you take one for the peace of it?
Bible Study and Research – Really. Study the topic of what you are feeling. Analyzing it helps to remove it from the emotional center of your being. If you can get it out of your emotional center an into your logical thoughts, you can better rationalize, think calmly and appropriately. For example, rather than feeling angry and out of control, study the topic of anger. Where does anger come from. What is the result of anger? Is it any good? How can you diffuse anger in a healthy manner? Once you learn how to manage your emotions, you may not have to read a book every time you feel overwhelmed. The knowledge may become second nature. Bible study also helps you understand God’s take on the type of situation you are facing. “What would Jesus do?” is not just a good saying. It could mean the difference between further emotional pain and healing of your heart condition.
Christ – Just saying, “Jesus, help me” never goes out of style. If you have a heart condition such as anger for example that you just cannot get a handle on, Christ is the answer. The Word lets us know that Jesus suffered temptations – even the temptation to be angry, just like we do on this earth. He is our example of how to let go and let God have His way to do His perfect work in our lives. When you feel yourself moving from rational to otherwise, think, “Jesus help me.” You can keep it simple and God knows exactly what that means in every situation – even when the circumstances change. We have to try not to let our negative emotions run rampant (James 1:12) because they will lead into sin if unchecked. Jesus said, be ye angry and sin not (Ephesians 4:26) – in other words, if you have a reason to be angry, do not allow that to cause you to sin.
Communicate – You were not made to seal your painful emotions like a corked bottle. Festering pain is like old wine. You are however, meant to be renewed every day (Romans 12:2). Keeping old pain alive in you is like old wine in a new bottle that Jesus spoke about (Mark 2:22). If you keep doing this, you will burst with negative emotion. It does not hurt to share your successes either – in moderation. You do not want to sound like a braggart; but if you remember to rejoice with others who rejoice – be happy for someone else even when their good fortune (blessing) has no other benefit for you, you will make room for personal, appropriate celebrations. If you have many successes and not many people to share them with, or if you feel you have many burdens and few shoulders to lean on, consider adding a journal to your prayer habit. If you can also talk to the person with whom you have such a strong negative vibe, you may be able to work the situation into a more manageable mode. If not, default to prayer.
Compliment – Many negative heart conditions start from criticizing and complaining to and about others. There are several other sources, but these are the most common catalysts. The reason they are so damaging is because these are the spoken words that you say. Jesus said that even eating with dirty hands does not defile the body as does speaking “dirt” out of the mouth, because it comes up from the heart (Matthew 15:11) – it is evidence of a heart condition and it also makes the condition worse. Giving a compliment is one way of taking charge of your tongue. Complimenting does not have to be false flattery – in fact you should avoid this as that would be lying. To compliment someone also means to give commendation, tribute, kudos, approval or admiration. Can you find something good to say that is actually true? The more you practice using your words for positive speaking, the more heart conditions like criticizing and complaining will diminish.
Forgive – Of course forgiveness is the second fastest cure for negative heart conditions (the first is Christ). Ultimately, we must forgive. All of the other tools are to help you work toward this one goal. Forgiveness transmutes, or remakes pain and suffering into peace. It transforms what someone may have said or done into how you can grow from your experience. You become empowered instead of a victim of someone else’s ill manner. Besides, five more years of a grudge could add up to a real, physical heart attack. It’s just not worth it to let that go on if you can avoid it. Besides, Jesus said that we must forgive if we are to be forgiven (Matthew 6:15).
Journal – Studies have shown that people who write their thoughts down regularly experience more satisfaction in their daily lives. It is a good idea to keep a journal of your experience. It does not need to be fancy, but you should make it your own. Do your best to write in your journal each day. Your daily objective is to record your thoughts and feelings; experiences and discoveries; questions that arise from new information; and everything that you learn during the process of healing heart conditions. Try not to leave things out because you think they will not be important. A piece with no apparent links today, could be something you will need for a later puzzle. Maintaining a journal is also a great way to keep everything together. If you are a teacher or ministry leader, there are many learning opportunities you can derive from a well-kept journal; and you will save time using work you have already done, tailoring for your needs as necessary.
Some other benefits of journaling according to International Leadership trainer and New York Times bestselling author, Michael Hyatt, are that journaling allows you to: 1. Process previous events; 2. Clarify your thinking; 3. Understand the context; 4. Notice your feelings; 5. Connect with your heart; 6. Record significant lessons; and 7. Ask important questions.
Prayer – Remember that among other things, prayer is a diffusion mechanism: it is a release for all of the steam that has built up in your heart around various topics and diverse situations. Prayer changes things. What’s more, prayer combined with the other tools in this list is a recipe for something amazing! You may even make a new friend.
Love – The Word says that love covers a multitude of fault (I Peter 4:8). If a person does something that is just wrong, love does not make what they did right; but love can help you to avoid mistreating that person, even though they are wrong. This is a true ministry – to love despite wrong. Jesus said that if we love only those who love us, we have not really accomplished much for the record books (Matthew 5:46). But to love your enemies truly means to “have no enemies” (Eckhart Tolle) – because you show love rather than hatred toward them – even if they do not reciprocate. Yes, it may be a tall order, but that is the principle.
Peace – Be at peace with all people, as much as possible (Hebrews 12:14). Peace is a heart soother, no matter what the external situation. When you can find peace, small irritations do not seem to matter as much. Peace can empower you to move beyond discrepancies and get into the business of living life to the fullest (John 10:10) – with joy (John 15:11). Jesus said, blessed are the peacemakers who will be called the children of God (Matthew 5:9).
Refocus – Sometimes, negative heart conditions such as envy or spite arise because we have our eyes on the wrong prize. You do not need to be envious of anyone else for any reason. You are a unique creation of God, fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14) – and every blessing meant for you will come into your life in His perfect timing if you do not let yourself (selfishness) get in the way. This is one reason why it is important to renew your mind (Romans 12:2) often.
Share – It is more difficult to be covetous for example, when you are practicing a giving spirit; and God loves a cheerful giver (II Corinthians 9:7). Giving cheerfully is an art form. Like all good heart conditions, it is something that has to be practiced in order for it to become second nature. If you do not make a habit of giving when you can, you are more likely to begrudge the thought if it when it becomes necessary, or when you are requested to do so. Thus, if you have a closet full of winter clothes for example, that you never wear even when it’s cold, give them away. You will do your heart good and clear some extra space.
Hyatt, Michael. “7 Benefits of keeping a daily journal.” <http://michaelhyatt.com/daily-journal.html> Accessed 10 November 2012