Three Reasons Why You Must Guard Your Heart

Your heart is the most important leadership tool you have. It is not your experience, knowledge, or skills. It is your heart that matters most of all.

A Knight in Full Armor - Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/mas-nv, Image #9960629

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/mas-nv

Back in the mid-80s, I started my own business. My partner and I left big corporate jobs, developed a business plan, and began raising money for our new venture.

We had one investor who promised to make a sizable investment. However, he ran us through the ringer. The due diligence process was all-consuming. We really didn’t have time to court anyone else. We made the fatal mistake of putting most of our eggs in one basket.

After months of back-and-forth, the investor decided not to make the investment after all. We were left high and dry, with about $12.00 in our checking account. We were disappointed, angry, and ready to quit. We almost lost heart.

However, that experience wouldn’t be the last time I experienced an assault on my heart. In my journal, I have cataloged almost twenty distinct situations where I was ready to quit and throw in the towel. In fact, as I have grown older, the conflict has intensified.

This is why, I think, as leaders we must be diligent to guard our hearts. King Solomon said it best: “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life” (Proverbs 4:23).

This is necessary for at least three reasons:

  1. Because your heart is extremely valuable. We don’t guard worthless things. I take my garbage to the street every Wednesday night. It is picked up on Thursday morning. It sits on the sidewalk all night, completely unguarded. Why? Because it is worthless.

    Not so with your heart. It is the essence of who you are. It is your authentic self—the core of your being. It is where all your dreams, your desires, and your passions live. It is that part of you that connects with God and other people.

    Just like your physical body, if your heart—your spiritual heart—dies, your leadership dies. This is why Solomon says, “Above all else.” He doesn’t say, “If you get around to it” or “It would be nice if.” No, he says, make it your top priority.

  2. Because your heart is the source of everything you do. King Solomon says it is the “wellspring of life.” In other words, it is the source of everything else in your life. Your heart overflows into thoughts, words, and actions.

    In Tennessee, where I live, we have thousands and thousands of natural springs, where water flows to the surface of the earth from deep under the ground. It then accumulates in pools or runs off into creeks and streams.

    If you plug up the spring, you stop the flow of water. If you poison the water, the flow becomes toxic. In either situation, you threaten life downstream. Everything depends on the condition of the spring.

    Likewise, if your heart is unhealthy, it has an impact on everything else. It threatens your family, your friends, your ministry, your career, and, indeed, your legacy. It is, therefore, imperative that you guard it.

  3. Because your heart is under constant attack. When Solomon says to guard your heart, he implies that you are living in a combat zone—one in which there are casualties.

    Many of us are oblivious to the reality of this war. We have an enemy who is bent on our destruction. He not only opposes God, but he opposes everything that is aligned with Him—including us.

    I think that pastors are particularly vulnerable. An August 1, 2010 article in the New York Times reports that,

    Members of the clergy now suffer from obesity, hypertension, and depression at rates higher than most Americans. In the last decade, their use of antidepressants has risen, while their life expectancy has fallen. Many would change jobs if they could.”

    Satan uses all kinds of weapons to attack our heart. For me, these attacks often come in the form of some circumstance that leads to disappointment, discouragement, or even disillusionment. In these situations, I am tempted to quit—to walk off the field and surrender.

This is why if you and I are going to succeed as leaders—and survive as individuals—we must guard our hearts. They are more important than we can possibly imagine. If we lose heart, we have lost everything.

In order to nurture—or recover—your heart, read my post, The Four Disciplines of the Heart.

Questions: What was the last time your heart was attacked? How did you respond? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
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  • Millybarrera

    As a baby Christian there was a very tremendous assault in my heart which almost took my life spiritually, emotionally and even physically. I now can look back and realize that it was an attack from satan to take me out but The Holy Spirit brought me through. I now have such a hugh burden for believers when they are babies in Christ, this is when they are most likely to get assasinated spiritually and beyond. In it all thank you for your message sweet short and very empowering. 
    Sister in Christ
    Forever will be greatful to Him!

  • Tiffany1728

    GG = Gods grace.(^_^)

    i think it’s normal for us leaders to face this kind of battle daily but we were able to get through it because of God’s grace. (^_^)

    by the way thanks for your post Sir Michael, it really helped me a lot.(^_^)

  • Katrinaharrisonthe1

    The last time my heart was attack was Sat, in the attacks always seem to come via my children. Now I ask God a question, I said Lord if I hav an opening that I am not aware of will you please show me / tell me this is what he say to me. Guard your heart, so I have been researching this trying to study up on this when I came across this post. So I began asking God how do. Guard my heart?

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  • http://twitter.com/mychng meiyen chng

    How true! Thank you for sharing, Michael. 

  • Solarcme

    My marriage failed and I was completely broken down. But little did I know that my heart was so unguarded… I didn’t even understand what that meant…
    … until I realized I had fallen in love with someone half my age (younger). Being on the inside it seemed uncontrollable and normal, but looking in from the outside I must have looked like a complete loser and sicko.
    Even though it was innocent and pure, it was still wrong.. but it is when I learned that the heart must be guarded at all times and how vulnerable I am when it is not.

  • Ann

    Wow, I just wondered across this and I have to say that I even having gone to catholic schools were I had to sit in religious classes for an hour every day did not know about this part of the bible. I have had my heart broken numerous times to the extent that I am now jaded and weary of anyone entering into it again. It seems like everyone I meet is out to hurt me because they are dishonest with their intentions no matter how hard I try to combat this. I ask all of the right questions and introduce all of the right discussions by they always seem to end up having a hidden agenda. I will try to focus on this passage from the bible from now on, but doesn’t it seem to serve to make you jaded? I guess I don’t understand the difference. Doesn’t God want us to be trusting? I wish I had more clarity on the subject.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I see our hearts as a castle. We have to have a moat and a drawbridge around it. We want to be able to protect ourselves from those that threaten our hearts, but open the drawbridge wide and welcome those we choose.

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  • Kellykim29

    My heart is under attack right know and it is due mainly from me not guarding what I allowed and or the things that I believed. It is one of the hardest things to overcome. I am praying and and hoping that one day I will wake up and the pain of hurt, lost, and rejection will no longer reside there..

  • Anninthecity

    Amazing post!

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  • wesley

    Thanks for the message michael, I liked it and will try to guard my heart.
    iam wesley from chennai, India. I am doing full time ministry.   

  • sue

    My heart was attacked when I found out my husband  was and probably still is having affairs. All I feel is resentment towards him. He is going to church and I was, until he started dictating to me about everything, my family, eveything I do just about. I asked him for money for Christmas and he told me no, but he can spend whatever he wants. I’ve just fallen away……I want to leave him but I have no money…..I had a business…but he badjers me to get rid of it all the time…I just have no desire to do anything……he even told me he wasn’t taking me out to dinner anymore because he can’t afford it…then he brags to others he makes $6000.00 a month. I pray that God will help me to go but I’m just not happy…..what should I do?

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I am sorry for your circumstances, Sue. I would encourage you to seek the advice of a counselor in your area. You need someone who can hear the details of your story and then walk with you through this. All the best.

  • Alice

    I would say that up until a few weeks ago I would completely agree with this. However after being hurt numerous times, and it causing me to not trust people, I finally opened up to someone for the first time. I opened my heart to them and it didn’t hurt. I have always had problems with seeing people appear ‘weak or vulnerable’ because of my experiences. I learnt through opening up that it’s not all that bad to let yourself seem vulnerable,it just has to be to the right people. Therefore I would say that this verse needs to be taken in context of the proverbs before it. They are mainly dealing with wisdom and 2:10 says wisdom will enter your heart. I would suggest that this can be seen as advising to guard your heart so that the wisdom is not damaged,(the wisdom that keeps you on the right path and ‘guards you’ therefore guarding your heart?) as well as the ‘wellspring of life’. Perhaps it can be seen both ways but from my recent experiences I would say that opening up can be healing. Maybe I’m on a completely different topic, but I thought I’d share my views! I’m still not totally won over by sharing and trusting, but I believe that completely going the opposite way and closing your heart off to everyone and everything can be just as damaging. Therefore we need to ask God how to get that balance?!

  • http://twitter.com/TouchMrktg Kathy Hogeveen

    I have been pondering this verse as I see how I’ve not done a good job of guarding my heart.  Needing the margin that your ‘The Four Disciplines of the Heart” is imperative to fueling my will to persevere.  Just thought I’d let you know that this morning I googled ‘guard your heart’ and your post is what came up.  God used this post to speak to me as a business owner this morning. Thank you for this post.

  • Evzzlyn

    As I read this my heart is under attack, it has been for the last few days. I have prayed, I have cried, I have read scriptures and I have prayed some more. I have noticed that even though scripture tells us to guard our hearts we have been so conditioned to give our hearts. We grow up learning to love, learning that love comes from the heart, we should put our hearts into all that we do. It seems that by the time we learn the truth, the truth being we are to guard our hearts diligently, we have given so much of it we essentially have to recondition ourselves to a new way of being. I myself want to love and be loved, with that said I do understand that guarding my heart doesn’t mean guard it with bitterness, resentment, or anger. I am in the recondiotioning stage. God Speed.

  • Jupi_planet

    the last time i was demotivated my response was highly negative… i purposely missed church on Sunday as i was upset on GOD but praise GOD my leaders counselled me back on tracks  it took almost a week for me to gain my fervor back !! 

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  • Penselwood

    My heart was attacked just a few minutes ago, by my son, who roughly objected to the sauce I made and hurt my feelings. He was tired, I know… had had a rough day and needed to vent. But it still hurt. That’s actually why I came to the computer and typed the words “guard your heart” and stumbled on your wonderful page.

    Thank you!

  • Penselwood

    I posted my comment below after reading your post but before reading through the many wonderful comments on here. Wow. So many strong, faith-filled Christians! Gloria’s story about her keyed car, toddlers with breathing difficulties. all exhorting us to be strong. Thank you all, especially for the practical analogy of the drawbrigde with a guard selectively allowing things in or out – staying open to the positive and barring the negative.

    I love this post.

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  • guin

    the image of the knight’s armor you used for the article is so appropriate. upon discovering  a few years ago what has become one of my favorite movies FIRST KNIGHT (made in 1995 ?)  above all, guard your heart proverbs 4:23  was the scripture that came to mind after viewing it. thank you for the insightful article.

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  • Jaka7177

    When I lost my mother,One of the hardest things I have ever done ): I miss my parents,but my biggest question as others,,will I see them in heaven and will we know eachother,?I know the.. Bible says that we have hope as others dont.I have became a stronger Christian and it has brought me so close to the lord…Thank you for listening and God Bless’

  • Jeeva

    Good post,Sir. We know God(His Love) through Revelation and Experience.

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  • Bella

     The last time my heart was attacked was by my hopefully soon to be ex-husband. I never wanted to be divorced or have the bevy of problems and strife that we had during the marriage but he was exceedingly controlling, abusive (physically, mentally, and emotionally)…and now his latest gesture is to purposely withhold financial support or any interest in our two young sons 2 and 19 months old.  We were allowed by a judge to leave the state he moved us to and return to my family having lost everything…not just years of time but all the investments I made even before the idiotic decision to abruptly marry him.

    I truly involved myself with this person so impulsively and was not watchful of my own life or my heart and naturally I was an easy mark for an abusive person to come in and strip me of everything and attempt to take away my dignity and that of my children.  

    Through it, however, I learned how to not only fight back, I learned to actually value myself and appreciate the level of strength it took for me to accept that this really was happening and to get my children out of that house and even though I faltered many moments hoping that I could repair things with him especially because our babies were so young…I ultimately did the best thing for myself and my children and left that situation behind us.

    It has been peaceful and productive and I feel so much better not having that constant disruption and drama in our lives.  He seethes with hatred towards me and ofcourse there many compilations of lies that he tells for people to pity him but my children and I know the truth….we were the only ones in our home and we know the limited life he thought we were going to lead. Would not have been possible.

    In my study this morning the scripture… Guard your heart….came to my remembrance and I thought to look it up and also found this blog.  Thanks for a great article. It is in the indeed the most important asset we will ever have and it can not just given and share with just any random number of individuals. 

    That was the lesson I had to learn, I opened my life up to too many people thinking that I’d help to build them up but they would just use me, take advantage of me and spit on me like nothing was done for them.

    So this was this was the biggest jolt that God allowed in my direction so that I’d stop squandering my life, time and gifts on this unconscious idiotic quest for martyrdom.

  • lee-ann

    I spoke my heart to a friend in confidence because i felt excluded from them and a mutual friend we have (in certain things they do) and before i had time to share with anyone, she had shared my feelings with them…….now we are struggling to restore friendships and seem to be very distant. They still stand together in their friendship and i am still left standing on the outside once again….

  • Barbara Lewis

    Good article. Especially excellent towards leadership and the protective leadership of our own hearts.

  • Susan

    Thank you for this message. I will not allow an attack on my heart anymore. I trust my angels to protect it so I enjoy the life God would like me to have.

  • Vilma

    Thanks a lot for this article…it helps enlightened me more. May God bless you more…

  • Marlene a Hibbard

    Fantastic illustration of your business being the spring board to guard your heart. Thanks, I’m going to put a link to this blog on my blog. http://www.marlenehibbard.com

  • Darryl F.

    I tried for years to lead and love my wife without guarding anything and she cheated and walked all over me. She took my kindness for a weakness and than laughed at me. I trusted her with everything and she took it. With God’s help I won’t let that happen again.

  • Regina

    It was just late last night during a break in out intercessory class, I was attacked. My mind was angry and I want to burst out but God gave me His wisdom and I talked to a Christian couple that I can trust, they always brought me back to the Word and to Christ and told me to guard my heart.

  • God’s Beloved

    This is very deep. Thank you. All my life I feel like I have been someone who has been vulnerable to the enemy because my heart has been unguarded. I feel like there has been this childlikeness to my heart that just trusts everything and I feel that’s how God’s made me but I let it become a weakness. So when I am up and on a “high” with God, I am EXTREMELY high. But when I became low I was VERY LOW. This is why I am a person who has been well acquainted with feelings of hopelessness and despair all my life. The enemy has deceived me so much because once I “feel: something it is SO strong. So when there are negative emotions, self-pity, self-hate, depression etc. comes in. But thank God when he saved me I have been learning. I been struggling with it along the way but It’s been years now and my biggest strength (my passionate and extra sensitive heart) is still also my biggest weakness. But God has been opening my eyes so much. Now in the midst of me learning these lessons about guarding my heart he is establishing me as leader which to be honest has been scary but I am choosing to trust him and walk by faith instead of let my strong natural fleshly emotions of fear consume me. Any personal advice you can give me?

  • anthony

    My heart is attacked constantly. Its under attack at all times, even in my sleep.

  • God’s child

    My heart has been constantly attacked from growing up to a fourteen year relationship with my sons father. One where my compassion and love is returned with unfaithfulness, abuse and destruction. How I am coping is also by reading psalm 91, and just crying out to God. I feel alone and like my heart and mind is imprisoned and constantly attacked but I know my God reigns and my hope is in him. Sometimes I feel like I should be doing something to change my situation but I am too weak but then I remember that in my weakness his strength is made perfect. My life will be a testament of his great love and faithfulness.

  • Plsgetreal

    Gods child, you need to wake up and this diatribe is most certainly ridiculous. You are weak because you choose to be. Please wake up and get in with your life. Take it from someone who nearly lost their life waiting for somebody to see the value of my heart, our young babies and our marriage. If you value yourself you’ll move on and do what needs to be done for you and your sons. Some times it’s really just that simple.

  • Miriam

    I really really love what u said Patricia, I did not guard my heart. I saw that.so many things I have been worrying about made my heart felt so leftout, and felt this overtiredness, that I could. have prevent. Like what you said, its a good thing to start with.