I reached a recent conclusion in ministry that should have hit me a long time ago: only big-hearted leaders make a big impact! Yes, it’s risky, and…means that it is not a matter of IF but WHEN you will get hurt. The most dynamic and effective leaders know that they must bring their heart to their home, vocation, and ministry-no excuses. As we finished up our expositional study through the book of Colossians this past week, I came across a tremendous quote from R. Kent Hughes:
For those of us who claim the name of Christ, there are two distinct courses of life available. One is to cultivate a small heart. It is by far the safest way to go because it minimizes the sorrows of life. If our ambition is to avoid the troubles of life, the formula is simple: minimize entangling relationships, do not give yourself to people, carefully avoid elevated and noble ideals. If we will do this, we will escape a host of afflictions. Many people, even some who profess to be Christians, get through life with a minimum of tribulation by having small hearts.
The other path is to cultivate a ministering heart like that of the Apostle Paul. Open yourself to others and you will become susceptible to an index of sorrows scarcely imaginable to a shriveled heart. Enlarge your heart and you will enlarge your potential for pain.
The effects of these two kinds of hearts upon those around them are drastically different. Little hearts, though safe and protected, never contribute anything. No one benefits from their restricted sympathies and vision. On the other hand, large hearts, though vulnerable, also know the most joy and leave the greatest imprint on other hearts. Cultivate deafness and we will never hear discord, but neither will we hear the glorious strains of a great symphony. Cultivate blindness and we will be spared the ugly, but we will never see the beauty of a sunset or a bird on wing. Cultivate a small heart and life may be smooth sailing, but we will never know the heady wind of the Holy Spirit in our sails, the power and exhilaration of being borne along by the Spirit in accomplishing great eternal things for God.
Which sized heart will you choose? It will determine everything…especially as it relates to your ministry in the gospel. I choose to, in my best yet feeble way, to follow in the footsteps of Paul, who grandly proclaims, “And I will very gladly spend and be spent for you; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved” (2 Co. 12:15). That’s a spiritual leader! That is someone with a big heart who will make a big impact! What about you as we enter the new year?
Hughes, R. K. (1989). Colossians and Philemon: the supremacy of Christ. Westchester, IL: Crossway Books.