The Most Important Leadership Lesson

You have one job and that’s to keep your heart in the right place.’

I don’t know how many times I have given that advice to someone who is walking through a challenging season, is struggling to forgive an offence, or struggling to keep walking forward in their leadership journey. It is a lesson that I have learned and have had to apply many, many times in my life as a pastor, wife, mother, colleague, or friend.  

The scripture that I probably quote more than any other and have wrapped my life around to keep me on a pathway of making good decisions in life is Proverbs 4:23; ‘Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.’


There have been too many sleepless and anxious nights when I have had to remind myself to choose God’s way – to forgive, to let go, to not worry or obsess about something that I can’t control, and let God go to work. As I do my part to keep my heart right, God does His part to make things right.

The state of my heart is what will ultimately determine where I will land in life. My one constant and relentless choice is to be vigilant about what I allow to be planted in the garden of my heart. Throughout my entire life, I have expected my heart and mind to be assaulted continuously, since I have an enemy that is seeking to destroy my relationship with God and with others.

I am convinced that the greatest battle I will ever face in life is the battle to protect my heart.  I must diligently govern the health and condition of my heart, making it my top priority. I am the sole custodian of my heart, and if it’s neglected, it’s not protected. There are many things in life, and in this world, that I can’t control. My heart is not one of those uncontrollable things.

Proverbs 4 ends with this hope-filled and powerful instruction to help us stay on the pathway that leads to blessing and promise – as we do our part, God is always and ever-faithful to do His part…

“Set your gaze on the path before you. With fixed purpose, looking straight ahead, ignore life’s distractions. Watch where you’re going! Stick to the path of truth, and the road will be safe and smooth before you. Don’t allow yourself to be sidetracked for even a moment or take the detour that leads to darkness.” (vs 25-27 TPT)


This world is getting louder and noisier every day – there is no end to the distractions that want to pull us off course, and lead us into darkness. The constant attack on our hearts and minds seems relentless, so we must learn to lean hard on Jesus to keep our hearts right. As we lean on Him, He will help us keep our hearts focused on Him and the work He’s doing in, and through our lives.


By Helen Burns

Helen's warm wit and wisdom is an inspiration to many. She is passionate about seeing people realize their full potential in Christ and discover that they are a gift to this world. Along with her husband John, she is a Founding and Teaching Pastor at Relate Church, a thriving family church in the Greater Vancouver area. Helen travels extensively all over the world teaching primarily on the subject of relationships, marriage and family. She is also the cohost of a global TV program, 'Sex, Love and Relationships" and has authored several best selling books.

John and Helen have celebrated 44 years of marriage - they have 3 daughters and 8 grandchildren which are their greatest joy in life!

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