Follow Your Heart . . . And Other Bad Advice

Why Body, Heart, and Mind Are So Important for Well-Being | Psychology Today

Pastor Rich Knight

Central Congregational Church

June 4, 2023


II Timothy 4:1-5 (NIV translation)

In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.



I’d like to speak with you briefly on the subject,

“Follow Your Heart . . . And Other Bad Advice I’ve heard through the Years.”

I wrote this message with our graduates in mind. But I’ve been thinking about this topic for years. One reason is that II Timothy 4:5 has always been a favorite passage of mine, especially where it says, “keep your head in all situations.”

I & 11 Timothy were written by the Apostle Paul to young Pastor Timothy. Paul is training Timothy for ministry. He’s also preparing him for some tough days ahead, days where it will seem like the Christian church is falling apart, and everything Paul and Timothy have worked for is collapsing all around them.

  • A great number of spiritual teachers will just tell people what they want to hear.
  • They will turn away from the truths and follow myths, meaning follow other gods, and the Gospel of Jesus Christ would be lost.

Paul wants Timothy to be prepared for that day. So he says to him, when that happens, “keep your head. . . keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.”

In other words, “Keep your wits about you, Timothy. Stay the course.”

I looked up this verse in other translations –

New Living Translation – Keep a clear mind in every situation.

English Standard Version – Always be sober-minded

New American Standard Bible – Use self-restraint in all things

Amplified Bible – Be clear-headed in every situation – stay calm and cool and steady.

I’d like to suggest to you this morning that Paul’s counsel to Timothy flies in the face of the most common advice given to young people today, namely, “Follow your heart.”

“Follow your heart.” – haven’t you heard that a lot?  “Listen to you heart.”

Keep your ears open for these words and you’ll be surprised how much they show up in commencement speeches, graduation cards, TV shows and movies. “Above all things, follow your heart.”

I did a Google search yesterday on the words, “Listen to your heart,” in movies. Here are just a few:

From The Fabelmans “You do what your heart says you have to. ‘Cause you don’t owe anyone your life.”

From Tender Heart Bear – “Listen to your heart, and you’ll find the truth!”

Babe Ruth in Sandlot says, “Kid, there are heroes and there are legends. Heroes get remembered, but legends never die. Follow your heart, kid, and you’ll never go wrong.”

“Follow your heart, kid, and you’ll never go wrong” -What a bunch of hooey!

The great Princess Diana once said, “Only do what your heart tells you.”     More hooey! – meaning silly talk!


I don’t know about you, but for me, the dumbest mistakes I’ve ever made in my life have been when I’ve listened to my heart, and didn’t invite my head into the conversation! I listened solely to my heart and left my brain out of the deliberations.

Morgan Freeman captures this idea in the movie Scrap-Iron Dupris, when he says, “Some people say the most important thing a fighter can have is heart. Show me a fighter who was nothing but heart and I’ll show you a man waiting for a beating.”

If we listen solely to our hearts, we often set ourselves up for a beating in life.


Think about the issue of money.

Should you listen more to your heart or your head? Your heart will say, “I NEED this. I NEED so badly. I need to buy it NOW!!!” It might be a piece of furniture, an article of clothing, a new car, even a new tool, or a new driver.

Your head and your common sense should tell you, “Let me think about this. Do I really need it? Do I have the money in my budget to buy this this month?”

The rule I try to follow is, always wait a day or two or three or more before making a big purchase – and often that feeling of “I NEED this” just goes away – because I didn’t really need it!

Proverbs 21:20 “Precious treasure remains in the house of the wise, but fools spend whatever they get.”

That proverb inspired the famous saying, “A fool and his money are soon parted.”

I’m very concerned and saddened by all the attention now given to Sports Gambling. – they even update the odds during the games now. I don’t necessarily think that gambling is wrong. I just think it’s . . . extremely unwise! It’s also very questionable stewardship.

Think about this: one of the Sports Gambling companies was offering $200 in free money to gamble with when you sign up with them. Now, think about that. Why would they give tens of thousands of people $200 just for signing up with them? Because they know that once they get their claws into a person, they’ll make that $200 back many times over. “The house always wins.” The heart might get excited to jump into the gambling game, but use your head, use your common sense.


Here’s another example – Career Choices

I would have loved to have played first base for the Boston Red Sox. That would have been the perfect job for me! But thank goodness I went to college and prepared for a career other than baseball.

I’ve known young people who followed their heart pursuing something they loved, but it was something they weren’t especially gifted at. Use your brain when it comes to choosing your life’s work. Yes, listen to your heart in terms of your passions, what you like to study, but also think about what you’re good at, what your gifts are.

The New Testament is clear that this is how God wants us to live and serve. Romans 12 and I Corinthians 12 both talk about our spiritual gifts, and that we’re to serve God out of our giftedness. Don’t just follow your heart – make sure to follow your abilities, your strengths, your gifts.


Here’s another example – Dating and Marriage

For Heaven Sakes, and for your sake, don’t just follow your heart. Invite your brain into the deliberations! – because there’s something called Projections.

First let me say that there’s nothing wrong with Romantic Love. I’m not suggesting that at all. The Bible has an entire book devoted to Romantic Love – the Song of Solomon, Song of Songs. Romantic love is one of the most beautiful things in life. Think about all the love songs, poetry, novels and movies that celebrate romantic love!

But, to quote one marriage expert, falling in love often comes with temporary insanity. The temporary insanity is because of the projections we make when we fall in love. We project onto the other person all the qualities we’re looking for. We fall in love with who we want them to be. And we maximize anything in the other person that fits those qualities, and we greatly minimize or even ignore all evidence to the contrary. We fall in love with who we want the other person to be, When we’re falling head over heels in love we often not looking at the other person with 20/20 vision. We’re seeing what we want to see and ignoring what we don’t want to see.

The experts say it takes 12-18 months for projections to die down and for us to get a clear, more accurate picture of the other person’s strengths and weaknesses, and more importantly the strengths and weaknesses of the relationship. That’s why you hear the common wisdom of don’t marry someone until you’ve known them for over a year.

So again, when it comes to dating and marriage, don’t just follow your heart, use your brain . . . a lot.


There’s one other issue I want to touch on, and it has to do with Pride Month.

The attacks on our LGBTQ friends are examples of people being led by their hearts filled with fear and therefore thinking incorrectly with their minds. When it comes to the mind, it seems to me that the some conservative folks are trying to push LGBTQ folks back into the closet, and it’s based on the idea that if gay, lesbian, and trans folks are out in the open they might be contagious and infect straight kids. That’s why there’s the banning of books and even banning conversations about these issues! This is faulty thinking and it ignores what we know about sexual orientation and gender identification.

But even worse than that is the loss of compassion and love for folks who are struggling, or who are different.

Jesus once said, “If you love those who are like you, who agree with you, what good is that? Even the pagans do that. If you can love those who are different from you, that you can’t even understand but you love them anyway – now you’ve really got something!”

If a person is struggling with their orientation, or with gender identity, shouldn’t our hearts be filled with compassion and shouldn’t we come alongside them with love, acceptance, and support? Or do we make exceptions when it comes to love your neighbor as yourself?  Love your neighbor. No exceptions!


I’ll close with this:

In the Wizard of Oz – the Tin Man is incomplete because he has no heart. The Scarecrow is incomplete because he has no brain.

Don’t be the Tin Man. Don’t be the Scarecrow!

Love the Lord your God with all your Heart, Soul, Mind, and Strength.