Leading from the Head, Heart, and Gut (Part One)

April 27, 2019


When I was in 6th grade at recess one day I was playing with my best friend (Tom) at the play set with a few girls. Tom began to act like a territorial young buck and became competitive and aggressive toward me. He probably didn’t realize that he was acting out of the primal instinct of male competition, while at the same time playing out his own insecurities. I certainly didn’t know that; I was just wondering why he was being a jerk all of the sudden. At one point he pretended to punch me, but as a sixth grader with poor depth perception, he nailed me square in the nose and it hurt! My eyes filled up with tears and in what seemed like five minutes but in real time was less than a second, I grabbed him with both hands by the collar pulling him backwards with me in a reverse somersault I catapulted him with both legs and the full weight of my considerable 12 year old frame. He skidded across the rocky blacktop behind me and came up covered in blood.


Because of that moment, I realize two things; one, I’m a deeply flawed human being with the propensity to overreact when betrayed. Secondly, I never thought about how it made me feel or what I thought about it, I reacted first and foremost out of gut impulse. For some time, I thought that everyone perceived, processed, and interpreted information much the same way I did. However, years of miscues and frayed relationships taught me different. We are all uniquely and wonderfully made in God’s image, yet completely impacted by sin. And we all react to trials and crisis differently.


We react impulsively in less sever ways, those reactions come from some combination of what we think (our mind), we feel (our heart), and the mystery of the gut (our intuition/courage). We have the tendency to lean heavily towards one of these areas. Most of us as we grow and mature, making our way off the playgrounds of our youth learn to think about stuff, we learn to understand how we feel about something and we shape our discernment to operate from the gut in less primal and more measured ways. Still, when we are punched in the nose (a life metaphor) we go straight to one of these three ways of reacting. The reason we do this has to do with a combination of our personality type, our Spiritual gifts, and our unique story. This means we need self-awareness and gospel awareness in how we are made and what God wants of us as we lead ourselves and others.   


In addressing the Corinthians in 2 Corinthians 6:6-7, Paul is talking to them about all of the trials his crew has suffered, and he says “6 by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, the Holy Spirit, genuine love; 7 by truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left;… 11We have spoken freely to you, Corinthians; our heart is wide open. (esv)


Paul is communicating to them that by God’s power, we have done our job despite what we suffered and how we did it was by, “knowledge” or the Head, “kindness…(and)… Genuine Love” or the Heart, and “Truthful speech…the power of God” or gut felt response to opposition. And while I am not trying to build a doctrine that scripture does not mean to represent, I do believe that scripture testifies that the head, heart, and gut are a part of how we react as leaders, and should be submitted to Jesus for refinement and empowerment for His glory.


When a hard thing comes along, do you get lost in your thoughts? You probably need to learn how to not just think about stuff but get in touch with what you are feeling (your heart), and to tap into your gut (or what you know to be true intuitively). If when you are faced with something hard, do you get trapped in your emotions? You probably need to get in touch with your thoughts and let them, and your gut, bring you up the emotional elevator. If you are a gut reaction person and sort of by-pass feelings and deep thought about opposition and crisis, you may need to slow down and process things more slowly so that you might have more winsome reactions. Trust me, people will like you better! You will be more resilient and steadfast. You will be better at leading people through hard seasons to accomplish your calling and purpose. This apostolic life hack is really as simple as the Gospel call for us to love God with our heart, soul, and mind and help others do in all circumstances.


This is Part One in this Series. We will dive into each of the three areas in future posts.

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