Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. (Prov 4:23)
I have never regretted the decision I made to follow Christ; but the challenges that I have faced, this last year are such, that at times I have felt like giving up in some areas where I am serving in the church….but I have not given up! When you face discouragement you have to find a way to keep serving, loving, giving, caring and sharing others’ burdens – even through your own pain. It is not easy.
I have discipled a group of 8 teenage girls for the last 4 years. I continue still with some of that group, but at times, it has been a struggle as I have desired greater growth and understanding from them and yet discipling is a long, slow journey. There has been encouragement as one girl is now baptised and others serve with our kids ministry and are ready to serve along with me in church. But the work is long and slow.
Also, in recent times, unjust criticism has hurt me and I have subsequently felt that I have not developed the gifts that I believe I have and this has caused me to fear that my contribution will be of little value. I have to be a helper to my pastor husband who is going through his own trials and I must find a way to share with him my own pain whilst trying to alleviate his.
In a recent conference someone said in that when we are in conflict situations: “Guard your own heart!”. It has been an encouragement to me. I can look back and see that watching over my own spiritual life is the best way I can be “Christ” to others. If I fail in guarding my own heart and let in wrongful anger, bitterness, or self pity then I will be of little use in my areas of service to others.
So how do I guard my own heart? It is important to find a way to be spiritually fed.
Conferences that I have attended have been a great encouragement, as i have found teaching that has really been Spirit led, and so relevant to my life and heart. It is important to find ways to be grateful and to give thanks to God. One conference we attended sent a Spotify list of songs that they would sing during the worship times together. I listened to these every day and “I will sing of the goodness of God” and “He will hold me fast” are two that I sang every day; it really struck me that even in the midst of my difficulties and challenges, the goodness and love of the Lord has not failed me, and His presence has always been with me.
Surround yourself with positive people. What can I say other than the Lighthouse Community has been a blessing – especially a visit here to Albania from those I had never met, to encourage us and to pray for us at a particularly difficult time in our ministry.
Keep the spiritual connection with the Lord open – quiet time and prayer is important to keep passing my cares and burdens to God and to listen to His voice.
…and above all else, guard your own heart!