“Above all else, guard your heart.” Proverbs 4:23
Did I read that right? There’s nothing more important in life to guard and look after than my heart? After reading it in four different translations I realized, why yes, I did read it correctly. The second half of that verse explains why: because everything you do flows from your heart. If your heart gets damaged, polluted or tainted, everything that flows out will have hints of this contamination.
As dads and husbands we have the responsibility to not only guard our own hearts, but we must protect the hearts of our children and the heart our wife.
Guarding Your Own heart
Sometimes we need to guard our hearts against sin – lust, greed, anger, power, (insert a sin of your choice). Guard against sin by confessing it, being accountable to others and walking in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Other times we need to guard it against the Enemy in the form of lies we believe about ourselves or lies others have told us – “I’m not good enough”, “I’m worthless”, “I’ll never amount to anything”. Be on the alert, your enemy the Devil prowls around like a lion looking for someone to devour. (1 Peter 5:8) He’ll do this through telling us lies that we end up believing about ourselves.
Guard your heart against these lies by re-programming your mind with the truth from scripture about who you really are:
I will not be condemned by God (Romans 8:1)
I have been accepted by Christ (Romans 15:7)
In Jesus I have wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption (1 Corinthians 6:19)
Whatever area you are attacked in with lies from Satan: find a scripture, write it down where it is easily accessible, and when those lies come repeat that verse.
Guard Your Children’s Hearts
Society and culture are not easy on kids. They are constantly inundated with how they should look, how they should talk, what they have to do to fit in. One of our roles as dads is to help guard their hearts. And if our heart is the most important thing we can guard, then it stands to reason that their hearts need to be guarded just as much. I can think of two ways we need to do this:
First, guard your child’s heart by not breaking it. It’s easy to get frustrated and say something that, while maybe not intentionally trying to harm them, could end up damaging their hearts: “How could you not figure that out”, “Why can’t you do better at school”, “How is that so difficult to understand”. What we are telling them is: “You’re stupid”, “You’re worthless”, “You don’t have what it takes”. Be careful with the words that leave your mouth when talking to your kids. Instead of guarding their hearts you could be destroying them.
Second, your kids are going to hear all sorts of messages from every direction that are not going to be uplifting. Tell your kids daily how proud you are of them, how much you love them, how great they are. Tell your sons they have what it takes to be a man and your daughters that they are beautiful. If they receive these messages from you constantly, it will act as a shield around their hearts when the arrows of this world fly in to take them out. If they know what their dad thinks of them and if they know who they are in Christ, they can much more easily handle the lies hurled their way.
Guard Your Wife’s Heart
The lies we are fed about what we should look like, what things we should have and what kind of lifestyle we need to be living takes the biggest toll on our wives. Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, HGTV, and a hundred other sources, makes our wives feel incompetent, unworthy, unloved, and un-beautiful. There is always another woman who has a nicer house, nicer decorations, nicer body, better behaved kids, more play dates, and it goes on and on.
You can guard your wife’s heart by constantly affirming her. Just as your kids need to hear from you how proud you are of them and how much you love them, your wife needs to hear you say she’s beautiful, what a great job she does with the kids, how much you appreciate the work she does around the house, how much you love her…Look for things to affirm her in and look for creative ways to tell her. This type of encouragement will go a long way in beating back the lies she tells herself when she compares what she does and what she looks like to others.
Make her a priority. Simply stated, put her needs ahead of your own.
Don’t criticize or compare. Just like you can damage your child’s heart, you can do serious damage to your wife’s if you say things like, “I wish you could be more like this person”, “Why can’t you get anything done around the house”, “You certainly don’t look like you did when we got married”. All bad. All dangerous. And all damaging to her heart. You can’t guard her heart if you are destroying it.
At times it can be exhausting and feels hard enough just to protect our own hearts, much less have to guard our wife’s and kid’s heart too. Well, you’re the man and you have to do it. No excuses and no let up. Everything we do, and everything they do, flows from the heart. None of us can live in the fullness of who we were created to be if our hearts are damaged. It’s your responsibility as a husband and father. Protect your own, nurture your wife’s and send your kids out into the world with an intact heart.