Jeremiah 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?
Follow your heart. How often have you heard someone use those words? Steve Jobs, founder of Apple, said: “The only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. …Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. …Everything else is secondary.”[i] On the surface, this seems like excellent advice. What could be better than loving what you do each and every day? Derek Jeter, arguably one of the greatest baseball players ever, said: “Dreams become realities when you love what you’re doing.”[ii]
There is certainly some wisdom in what these successful people are saying. If you are fortunate enough to be able to make a living, supporting yourself and others, doing something you love, it certainly is a blessing. Who would not want this? I could suggest that you get away all by yourself for a day with the soul mission of uncovering what you are really passionate about. I could encourage you to be still, meditate and listen to your heart. What is it telling you? When you hear the answer, you could do as Steve Jobs suggested and not settle until you are doing what you truly love. The problem, however, is that it would be foolish Christian teaching because it is contrary to the teachings of the scriptures.
5This is what the Lord says: “Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who draws strength from mere flesh and whose heart turns away from the Lord. 6That person will be like a bush in the wastelands; they will not see prosperity when it comes. They will dwell in the parched places of the desert, in a salt land where no one lives. 7“But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. 8 They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.” 9 The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? (Jeremiah 17: 5-9)
This scripture seems to fly in the face of the worldly advice you might receive today. That is because it was inspired by the very one who created us and knows us better than we know ourselves. We are a fallen, sinful people (Romans 3:23), so if we are relying on hearing what is in our natural heart, there is a strong possibility that we are hearing our sinful desires. One of the things we tried to teach our children very early is that “life is not about you”. That does not mean you can’t enjoy yourself or shouldn’t take care of yourself, because you must if you want to be helpful for others, but it means your desires and happiness are not meant to be your ultimate goal. The Bible teaches us that we are supposed to die to ourselves and follow Christ (Matthew 16:24). We have been created for good works that God has prepared for us (Ephesians 2:10). We aren’t meant to search out our heart to know what we are to do, rather we are instructed to seek out the Lord (Psalm 105:4, 1 Chronicles 22:19, Jeremiah 29:13) to determine what his will is for our life. That calling may come at a high personal cost. The disciples all suffered greatly, and legends abound that most of them lost their lives due to their faith. But the Bible promises us something much greater than happiness from following our heart, it promises us joy and peace. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4: 6-7). Choose to follow your Lord today, not your heart.
[ii] Howell, Brian (2011) Inside The Industry – Sports. Pg. 30.