“The heart wants what the heart wants.”

I believe Emily Dickinson was the person who coined the phrase. Generally there is a tired-soft-sigh released into the universe when this is spoken. Why do people say this? Well this incantation is intoned when you believe someone made a bad choice that fails the test of reason, rationality and intelligence. Sometimes people have a broken chooser.

Maybe a better way to say it is “The will- will choose whatever the will wants regardless of the advice given.” But that is not as pretty or poetic is it?

The prophet Jeremiah had some thoughts about the heart too:

“The heart is hopelessly dark and deceitful,
    a puzzle that no one can figure out.
But I, God, search the heart
    and examine the mind.
I get to the heart of the human.
    I get to the root of things.
I treat them as they really are,
    not as they pretend to be.” 17:9-10

Leaders make decisions every day that confront what the heart wants.

When you make a decision that goes against what the heart of someone wants, you generally are labeled as bad, evil or wrong by the offended heart and the friends of the offended heart who have heard a partial and perspectively limited rendition.

This is when the sigh is exhaled, and the words “the heart wants what the heart wants” mystically fill the air.

Truly, this is a daily reality for those in leadership and it takes more than thick skin to lead through the brokeness of life.

There are three things that every leader needs to employ while navigating the minefield of people’s perceptions and opinions.


I recently was leading through a no win situation. When you find yourself in a no-win situation the worst thing you can do is simply look at your pros and cons list and go with the best potential outcome. If you lead in this fashion, you will always second guess yourself while having all sides mad at you.

Practicing Spiritual Discernment is the best way to lead when all your options leave you with angry people. Listening prayer finds God in extended-focused-silence and intense awareness. Discernment moves you into the heart and mind of God to seek His will and direction rather than your best decision on a matter or issue. God will speak, give an impression, and/or reveal Himself in such a way that you and those with you will experience a unified sense of what to do. When you are in a no-win decision-making process, a unified discernment eliminates second guessing your best decision. Your soul senses a peaceful confirmation of what you need to do no matter how hard it will be. This is a powerful ally when you must have hard conversations. If you are finding consensus elusive, stay with practicing discernment until you reach it…this is both powerful and faith building.


Grace is the great equalizer of all things. We give grace when it is least expected and least deserved…and this is why grace has always been scandalous. It defies the norm, it goes where no man has gone before. Hard conversations need to be bathed in grace before and after. When your decision causes anger, disillusionment or discouragement, practicing grace is critical to creating the space for healing to happen. Without grace, combat will be the only outcome. Grace does not guarantee receptivity though…it simply ensures that you stay on the high road when you are taking some blows.

Jesus spoke into the lives of many who didn’t want to hear the truth He was delivering. When He said, “he who has ears to hear let him hear…” Although He knew that many hearts were not ready or receptive to what He was saying, His response was never tit-for-tat, generally, He asked some questions that caused people to think deeper about their situation.

I have found that grace-filled conversations have kept the relationship alive even while tensions were still alive and well.


You can’t control people…
You can’t control what they think…
You can’t control the circumstances of life…

The only thing you can control is you, and even that is hard! When leading through no win situations you must practice spiritual discernment bathed in grace. After you have received what you sense is God’s direction…say what you need to say and release the person and situation to God.

The problem is…

We want to justify our decisions when people are angry or disagree.
We desperately want people to like us, but that isn’t always possible.
We want to rehash and re-explain until they understand what we were trying to say…but that is often impossible.

So, breathe deeply, trust ferociously and release…
Believe and trust the confirmation you sensed from God…
Pray God’s healing presence into the situation and the people involved…
Stay rooted in God and in love…

Most importantly, stay available because God is always at work and things are never as they seem.

He just might give you an oportunity to experience the miracle of restoration and reconciliation as you continue to discern and release through the power of His grace.



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