You may hear us often say “Guard Your Heart” when talking with men. In this post we want to delve into what that actually means and exactly what you need to watch out for and guard against.
There are eight areas that threaten the heart of a man: career pressures, distractions, relationship pressures, the search for significance, passivity, control, competition, and sexual temptation. Let’s take a closer look at these areas.
Career pressures come from the often competitive or demanding nature of the workplace and get the best of us when we allow our drive to succeed at work to become out of balance with the time we spend in our roles at home. Work is not the problem, but our hearts are if we work excessively to the detriment of our family. What are you working toward—recognition, a higher salary, more power? Is it costing you the impact you could be having elsewhere?
Distractions are what keep us from accomplishing goals at work and in our family. Pleasure, power, money, and position are all distractions that blind us to the importance of our presence and investment in the lives of those around us. We have to assess where most of our time and energy is going and ask ourselves if it’s important, or simply distracting us from what is.
Relationship pressures come from the tension of things like trying to fulfill needs, meet expectations, deal with hurt, or be a leader in our relationships. Often times we’re caught in the crossfire of several of those pressures at once, causing us to either blow up or shut down. Guarding against those reactions means prioritizing, maintaining peripheral vision, and tending to the immediate needs first.
The search for significance is our drive to be successful, however that is defined in our lives. When we search for significance by the world’s standards, we begin to measure our self-worth by power and performance instead of who we are to God. Redefining success according to God means placing value in our character and in matters of the heart instead of in our performance.
Passivity is lack of activeness in our roles of husband, father and leader. We may struggle in this area because of laziness, unresolved conflict, or maybe we never saw involvement and leadership modeled. Breaking the pattern takes investing time, confessing, communicating, and seeking accountability.
The issue of control often involves manipulating in order to have the upper hand and satisfy our own needs. Control is often the result of one or more of four factors: fear, deep insecurity, active or passive aggression, and lack of self-esteem. The secret to keeping our need for control in check is to yield our control back to God, who placed us in any position of power or influence and knows the best possible way it should be used.
Competition is rivalry that drives us to succeed. It’s not negative in and of itself, but if our desire is to win at all costs, we’ve crossed the line from good to bad competition. There are three lethal elements to competition that cause us to step over that line: pride, envy, and greed. Examining our motives, opening our lives to our friends, and striving for excellence instead of perfection are keys to healthy competition.
The final threat to a man’s heart we want to look at is sexual temptation. Research indicates that out of every ten men, four or five have fallen into adultery. That’s a staggering number of men living in deception, leaving their marriage, or trying to rebuild trust in a broken relationship. But healthy marriages aren’t destroyed all at once. They don’t simply collapse, they erode, and the erosion often starts with a look or a thought and gains momentum from there.
We want to encourage you to keep your eyes on your mate only and resist any temptation to linger when looking at another. A lingering look gives into a thought and before you know it, your mind has carried you further than you want to go. How can you break past some of these issues and experience a great marriage? The answer is to guard your marriage. The concept of guarding when it comes to sexual temptation is really like playing a good defense. You can’t often control the images and people that surround you, but you can control your response by staying on your guard. If a stray and suggestive internet ad pops up on your computer, close it. If a person walks by you and catches your eye, look in the other direction and keep your eyes for your spouse only.
Stay on your guard in each of these eight areas and you will be successful in your marriage, family, and in your job. Guard your heart!
For much more on each of these threats and how to biblically respond as a man, check out our book, Guard Your Heart-Men’s Edition.