Another new year is upon us and folks are making (and breaking) their resolutions, choosing their "one word" focus for the year (what's yours?), getting sore from working out for the first time in a while, and trying to remember to write 2016 instead of 2015. (I'll probably get this one write sometime in April.)
As we all enter into this new year, and new season of our lives, I wanted to share a little something I wrote a few months back, but one that bears repeating.
Andy Stanley, in his teaching series entitled "Re:Solution" asked a powerful question when he asked, "What breaks your heart?"
The point of the question is this: You were designed by your Heavenly Father who has given you unique gifts, talents, experiences, etc. and when He did, He also designed you for the purpose He placed you here at this time in history to fulfill. (Sounds kind of like this book, On Purpose For a Purpose which you may have heard of. #ShamelessPlug)
What breaks your heart is tied directly to your calling.
Does human trafficking and slavery break your heart the most?
Does social injustice break your heart the most?
Does seeing children struggling in poverty break your heart the most?
Does the decline of healthy marriages and families break your heart the most?
Does domestic violence break your heart the most?
Does lack of medical care to those most in need break your heart?
Obviously, these are all tough, tough issues in our world today, and our hearts break with each one. We know that none of us can do everything. We also know that all of us can do something. So, what is it that breaks your heart the most? Perhaps it is something not even listed above.
As Andy asked this question, and as I considered the past decade of my life in full-time ministry, it became so clear to me that what breaks my heart the most is ...
Seeing people remain in shackles that keep them from the abundant life Jesus came to offer. This enslavement shows up in the the following ways:
People striving so hard to experience freedom through their self effort to please God..
Husbands and wives trying so hard to make marriage work in their own power...
Parents living with shame and guilt over what their children choose...
Children grasping to find acceptance from parents who never can never be pleased...
Family members estranged from one another over past offenses...
Pastors or other Christian leaders using shame and guilt to motivate change from those sitting in their services, reading their books, or attending their conferences...
Men, women, adolescents and even children in bondage to addictive behaviors, substances or acts.
When it all comes down to it, I realize what breaks my heart the most is seeing people live with the heavy shackles of legalism disguised as "Sold-Out" New Testament Christianity. That's what breaks my heart.
But what gives me HOPE in the heartbreak is the awareness that through Christ in Shelley, I can be a carrier of light and life into the world. I can be a voice of grace and truth to my generation. I can be a teachable student on a journey who invites others to join me.
Being self-aware enough to know what breaks our hearts can help us when we're trying to determine our next step, our next move, our next project, or perhaps the next blog post.
Becoming aware of what truly breaks our hearts can also lead us to the hope we can offer others whose hearts are broken as they live through the experiences that break yours.
I encourage you to take some time to reflect on this question and articulate what breaks your heart the most, but don't stop there! Once you've written these down, consider the hope you can now offer through your life - vocationally and relationally - to those who need you and are waiting for you to show up in their lives.
This post is also featured here and is used in both places with permission.