The “Heart Work” of Character

If character is the expression of who we really are, then character is “heart work.”

Character formation is an inside job with an outside exposure.

One of our teachers expressed to me that many of our children choose to disobey school and class rules because “their own will is more important than the consequence.”  This demonstrates that a person’s character (in this case expressed as disobedience and thus poor character) is an inside job with an outward exposure.  The “heart work” here is the will or desire of the individual that trumps respect and love for others, especially for those in authority.

Let’s pray for our children.  As much as we love our children, as close as we are to them, we are not in their hearts.  We do not form their thoughts, attitudes, longings, and choices, though we can influence them.  Pray for their hearts.

We have a saying here at Troy Christian that “the heart of education is the education of the heart.” Hmm.  But who really educates the heart?  The Holy Spirit takes the teaching given (Romans 10:17) and does the “heart work,” explaining, reminding, convicting, and impacting the will.

The heart has been greatly misunderstood.  If you would take a concordance and look up this word, you will find columns of references, close to 1000!!  If you were to categorize the use of the word the way you would sort out shapes by circles, squares, and triangles, you’d find generally that the heart has three basic shapes:

1.) The heart is the thinking of a person, the mind: “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he” (Proverbs 23:7; note Proverbs 15:28; Ecclesiastes 1:13).

2.) The heart feels and expresses attitudes: “Let not your heart be troubled. . . (John 14:1) and “A merry heart does good like a medicine” (Proverbs 17:22).

3.) The heart is the center of the will: it makes decisions: “…you became obedient from the heart” (Romans 6:17; note Acts 2:37). Note the expression, “hard hearted” and “stiff necked,” describing a will that chooses not to listen or obey (Exodus story of Pharaoh; Psalm 95:8).

The heart is the spirit within a man, and through God’s grace, He gives us new hearts (Ezekiel 11:19-20).  In modern terms, the heart is the cognitive (mental), affective (emotional, attitudinal), and volitional (decision-making) components of a person’s inner self.  These are not separate components, but they work together, feeding each other, shaping the character and identity of each of us.

Let’s pray for our hearts and our children’s hearts. Whatever character quality we discuss, whatever area of our lives we are working on, it is heart work: an inside job with an outside exposure.

“Obedience is the joyful abandonment of ourselves to God.

The root of obedience is in attentive listening to God,

because the longing of our hearts is to obey Him.”

Categories: Parenting, Spiritual Growth | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Post navigation

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Blog at

%d bloggers like this: