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We’re often encouraged to do whatever makes us happy. Yet, as we mature, we also realize our duty and responsibility to others is not dependent on our happiness per se. And this can leave us feeling divided. Are we just being selfish when we want to pursue our own desires? Does serving others mean we must kill our heart along the way?

While there’s overlap and tension, perhaps it’s best to see these as two different battlefronts.

On the one hand, God has placed unique passions and desires into our hearts. And we must live wholeheartedly to fulfill his calling for our life. On the surface, this is simply allowing our heart to come alive and pursue those things that spark our deep joy. And this is not inherently selfish to do so. In fact, caring for our heart puts us in a better position to love others well. Of course, we sin whenever we make an idol of our desires, despite their original goodness.

On the other hand, there’s also deep joy in our service. It’s priceless to realize our blood, sweat, and tears makes life better for others. Far from killing our hearts, we can discover deeper meaning and love through our sacrifice and duty to others. But we’ve missed the mark whenever bitterness starts to take root. This happens, for example, when we attempt to love with strings attached – expecting, or outright demanding, a certain response rather than letting our love be a free gift.

To be sure, pursuing our own desires can cause us to neglect our responsibility to others. And resentment in serving others might be the result of disregarding the unique desires of our heart. But our choice is not between one or the other. We must learn how to rightly honor both.

In the end, freely pursue the desires of your heart as you also remain committed to your duty to others. Joy comes from both, and heartache and suffering when either are neglected.  

Photo by cottonbro studio on Pexels

Dr. Corey Carlisle

Licensed marriage and family therapist and certified sex therapist - providing Christian counseling and soul care to individuals and couples, with a special emphasis on developing the masculine soul. Suwanee, GA 30024

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