By Patty Edwards Shaver
First impressions set the tone for individuals and organizations. They are essential in making guests and people seeking assistance feel welcome. This is also true for church members seeking inclusion within a committee, ministry outreach or Bible study class. 
Church members are not perfect. We all have strengths and weaknesses. 
We come with various gifts, talents, personality traits and temperaments. Many are welcoming, caring and generous people. 
Yet some lack a welcoming presence. This could simply be how they are wired, but it could also be a “heart defect.” 
When someone experiences a heart problem, they go to a heart specialist. It may require lifestyle changes, medication or in severe cases, surgery or a heart transplant. If it isn’t treated, then it can become fatal. 
Just as a healthy heart is imperative for human life, a healthy heart is at the center of a healthy, thriving church.
In a spiritual sense, the heart is the core of human essence. It is who we are and how we interact in the world. Our attitudes and behavior emanate from our hearts and affect the world around us in healthy or unhealthy ways. 
Earl Nightingale was a twentieth-century radio personality and author dealing primarily with the issues of human character development, motivation and meaningful existence. He once said, "Our attitude towards others determines their attitude towards us." 
Our attitudes are expressed by words and behavior, even when masked by superficial niceness or overt behavior. Negative attitudes can be unwelcoming to guests, making them feel like outsiders. Condescending attitudes toward people experiencing hardship are felt when they are at rock bottom and come to the church asking for help—making them feel “less than.” 
Speaking negatively or spreading rumors and personal information about others tears them down rather than building them up. In these instances, it affects the attitudes of the offended toward the offenders, the church and Christianity as a whole.
Our heart reveals our true character. We may try to cover up or ignore the symptoms, but at some point, they will become serious if left unchecked.
As Christians, just like everyone else, we need to consult with a physician for annual checkups to maintain our physical health. Likewise, we need regular checkups with God to maintain our spiritual health and well-being as well as the health and well-being of those around us. 
Do you and your church have a healthy heart? Maybe it’s time for a checkup. 
Back to Top