We tend to focus on roles, skills, and techniques. They’re important, but they’re not our first job. Our first job is to cultivate a heart that’s seeking after God.
I realize this sounds pietistic, but I think it’s true. Paul listed all the amazing things we can do in 1 Corinthians 13: speak in tongues of men and angels, have prophetic powers, understand all mysteries and knowledge, have faith to move mountains, give away all that we have, and give up our bodies to be burned. Without love, Paul writes, all of them are meaningless. We think the power is in the right action, but Paul reminds us that what matters most isn’t the action but that the action flows from love. It’s about the heart.
My Uncle John is a pastor I respect. I remember him telling me that if he was called upon to preach at the last minute, he’d spend more time preparing his heart than he would preparing the sermon. I never used to understand that. I do now.
Every morning we begin the process of waking up again. We wipe the sleep from our eyes, splash water on our faces, and move from grogginess to engagement at our own particular speed. The same is true of our souls. Every morning we need to wake up our souls again to the grandeur and beauty of God, and make it our pursuit to follow him.
Proverbs 4:23 reminds us, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it” (NIV). James K.A. Smith reminds us that “discipleship is more a matter of hungering and thirsting than of knowing and believing.”
Our first job is the one we often forget: to cultivate a heart that’s seeking after God. Everything else flows from that.