Last month I attended a leadership seminar hosted by the Middle District Baptist Association. The keynote speaker was the President of the Baptist General Association of Virginia, John Upton. John presented a lot of practical content, but there was one word that captured my attention – VISION. John shared an interesting perspective on how a church finds its vision. John said this: “Vision is not created by committees or by analysis. Vision is not a by-product of a study or a consultant. Vision comes from passionate love; it’s having your heart broken by something.” Then he asked, “What is it that breaks your heart? Find out what breaks your heart, and there’s your vision.” I’ve been asking myself, “What breaks my heart?”
My first experience with heartbreak happened when I was 6 years old. The memory is seared in my mind. My grandfather was the pastor of a small church and he’d been the pastor for 17 years. There was a group of people in the church who believed my grandfather’s time as a pastor should come to an end. There was another group who believed my grandfather was doing a fine job and wanted him to stay. In a meeting one Sunday following the worship service, two “gentlemen” started yelling at each other. Both of their faces were red with anger as each one shook their finger at the other. Confused and heartbroken, I asked my mother as we drove home from church, “Mom, I don’t understand why those two men were yelling at one another. I thought Christians were supposed to treat each other with kindness?”
Today, almost 50 years later, I find myself still asking that question. It’s understandable as we have a lot to be angry about in this world, but it’s how we express our feelings with each other that puts a burden on my heart. The Apostle Paul has a helpful word for us in Colossians 4:6, “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” Full confession, I’ve failed to live up to Paul’s words in my life. Ashamedly, I’ve spoken with people out of anger, and I’ve had conversations that have been less than grace-full. We all have moments when we allow emotion to cloud our thinking and our speech. I bring up that old memory of the two angry men, and I share with you my own failings because these two things helped me to answer the question of what breaks my heart.
My answer is: When Christians aren’t Christlike, my heart is broken. Answering this question has helped to clarify my call to become more Christlike and to help and encourage other people to do the same. So, I ask you: What breaks YOUR heart? What has God put in front of you that you can’t ignore? John Upton shared that having our hearts broken by Jesus is a good thing.
On the evening before Jesus was crucified, he shared the Last Supper with his disciples. Matthew 26:26 says, “And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it.” Jesus does the same with our hearts. He breaks it and, in our brokenness, we find that we are blessed. Why? A broken heart is an open heart and when our hearts are open Jesus can pour into us, filling us with His Holy Spirit. Once our hearts are broken for the situations and people around us, our vision becomes clear.
So, Bethel, I ask again, “What breaks your heart?” If you have an answer, please reach out and share it with me. I’d love to know how you answer that question. My prayer is that Jesus will help you answer that question and give you a vision of His desire for your life and give us a vision for Bethel. May God bless us as we go forward in faith.