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Managing Behavior or Mentoring Hearts?

If you had to quantify your ministry or parenting focus with the following words, which two would be the most accurate?

Managing Behavior… OR

Mentoring Hearts

It’s easy to default to the “Managing Behavior” position—in both ministry and parenting. Why? Because managing behavior is easier. It simply requires a strong hand of authority and a list of expected behaviors. It’s also more visibly rewarding—you can point to “how good” everybody looks and behaves. Scary thing is—behavior changes when you’re not around to manage it.

Uh-oh… that’s where merely managing behavior becomes a horrible waste of life and an utterly futile philosophy of ministry. Managing behavior is like babysitting—it’s only concerned with the short term. It doesn’t successfully transfer the faith of Christ to another life.

“Mentoring Hearts”—this is the philosophy of ministry that creates HUGE long-term fruit. But mentoring the heart takes time, training, teaching, investment, and sacrifice. It requires that you practice the truth, and make the truth practical. It’s much more difficult, less visible, less measurable, and less tangible than managing behavior. The results take longer, but they last a lifetime!

If you are called to ministry, or called to parenting—manage behavior when necessary, but don’t stop there and don’t let behavior be your only gauge of success. Dig deeper and get below the surface.

If you wish to grow real faith in young lives for the long term—you must focus on the heart. Young people see through behaviorism. They learn the game. They learn how to keep everybody “off their backs.” They go through the motions. They mistake “the motions” for the real Christian life—and eventually they walk away from the game.

And in so doing, they never truly fall in love with God. And that’s the greatest commandment—love God with your whole heart!

Young lives that fall in love with God, rarely run from Him.

Stay focused on the heart—that’s the center of the target!

OK—your turn! What are some ways YOU minister to the hearts of those you lead?

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  • As you said this is not an easy task. However, what I have learned is you must state your reasons based upon a biblical foundation without judgment and when kids don’t live up to it, continue to love and direct them. Also, be an exemplary example during those times of difficulty responding to thier behavior in the way you have trained them. Wow, a good reflective thought!

  • Yes it requires time,devotion, commitment,communication, respect for one another and most of all Love. All with prayer and daily devotions.Leading by example and seeking Gods will daily not concerning ourselves with mans opinions,for only God knows the condition of the heart. Thank you for posting and encouraging.

  • Thanks for the thought. At this stage in my life I am not in a position to mentor or manage many people. But I will take this challenge to heart and try my best to mentor people’s hearts instead of simply managing behavior. Thanks for the challenge.


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