Heart-Led Versus Head-Led Christians

 “…Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind…” (Luke 10:27)


As Christians, we believe we are saved through our faith in Jesus. For many people, the word faith is synonymous with matters of the heart, but the Bible is clear that faith involves the conviction of both our hearts AND minds. Some people need significant intellectual conviction as part of faith (“head-led” Christians) and others need very little (“heart-led” Christians).

If you are a head-led Christian (this is me) . . .

You probably readily admit that your analytical nature can get in the way of your relationship with Jesus. This is because you can’t be “all in” with your heart until you have reached a critical mass of conviction in your head. Even when you have reached firm conviction of your heart through your head, some questions will always trouble you.

If you are a heart-led Christian . . .

You probably wonder why head-led Christians have so much (perceived) “trouble” with faith. You have questions too, but they don’t so much bother you as they just simply exist. You feel there is little point in worrying about questions that can’t be answered, especially when they have little or no impact on your overall conviction.

When applied to parenting, these two characterizations have many implications. Below is a chart I created that shows four different combinations of parent and child type. In each section of the graph I’ve identified one key parenting objective given the dynamics of that combination.

 

Parent Head-Led and Child Head-Led (upper right of the graph)

 

Key Objective:  Demonstrate relationship with Jesus. It can be very easy for a head-led parent to apply faith only at church on Sundays because that comes more “naturally” than daily application through heart-based relationship.  This limitation is detrimental to your own faith, but it’s especially detrimental to that of a head-led child who needs a model of how faith should look when intellectual conviction eventually leads to heart conviction. Your objective, therefore, should be to intentionally demonstrate the relational (“heart”) aspects of your faith (e.g., prayer).

 

Parent Heart-Led and Child Head-Led (lower right of the graph)

 

Key Objective: Encourage questions. If you are a heart-led parent raising a head-led child, the questions that come up may frustrate you. It is imperative to understand that being head-led requires a significant layer of additional mental conviction and head-led people will not come to faith in the absence of that. If kids feel that their questions are not a legitimate part of being or becoming a Christian, there is a very real possibility that they will turn away from God. Your objective should not be to just allow questions but to actively encourage and legitimize them.

 

Parent Heart-Led and Child Heart-Led (lower left of the graph)

 

Key Objective: Challenge the head. If you are a heart-led parent raising a heart-led child, you should intentionally build your child’s intellectual conviction in matters of faith for two key reasons: 1) Many people become more head-led as they get older, so encouraging stronger intellectual conviction from an early age will better solidify a child’s long-term faith foundation and 2) A solid intellectual conviction is an important asset for eventually evangelizing to non-Christians who pose difficult questions.

 

Parent Head-Led and Child Heart-Led (upper left of the graph)

 

Key Objective: Foster relationship with Jesus. If you are a head-led parent raising a heart-led child, you may fear that your child’s lack of intellectual curiosity on faith matters means he/she will not have sufficient conviction as an adult to sustain faith. The biggest challenge in this case is to accept that not everyone needs the same level of intellectual conviction to have authentic faith. The head-led parent must be careful to not question the sufficiency of a truly heart-led conviction. Instead, the objective should be to provide as many opportunities as possible in daily life for that heart-based conviction to grow in relationship with Jesus.

Today’s Thought:

Where on the heart vs. head spectrum do you and your kids fall (even if your kids are very young, like mine, you can tell a lot from personality)?

Today’s Action:

Identify and take action on one thing you would want to improve on based on the head and heart dynamics in your home.

4 Comments

  1. Jennifer on December 6, 2011 at 7:47 PM

    You always ask such hard questions! 😉 I really don’t know what my kids are, but I think balance is the key; you’ve got to have a heart for what you believe in, and you have to have knowledge to understand your beliefs. I try to give them both. Right now we are learning the reformed catechism in school (homeschool), it’s been amazing to see their faces light up with the truths we are memorizing. And truly, it does seem to stir their hearts as well as their minds.



    • Natasha @ Christian Mom Thoughts on December 23, 2011 at 2:14 PM

      Jenn – I’ve never considered using the catechism, but I would be interested to hear more about how you are using it, and how you bring it to life beyond straight memorization (so it’s both a “heart” and “mind” activity). Thanks for mentioning it, I will look into that also!



  2. Bev on December 23, 2011 at 8:51 AM

    Can you be both? I know in my heart that things are true, but I can’t help but wonder how or why. At this point in their lives, my children are totally heart-led, but that doesn’t mean they don’t ask questions. They’re kids, that’s their job! I’m always honest with them. If I don’t know an answer, I’ll straight-up tell them I have to think about it or that no one knows for sure, except God. And I ask them to think about the answers, too.



  3. Natasha @ Christian Mom Thoughts on December 23, 2011 at 2:17 PM

    Bev, Absolutely! I think everyone is a mixture of both; we are all somewhere on the spectrum, but I think most people tend one way or another. It would be nearly impossible to be purely “heart led” and never have a question. If you are purely “head led”, you probably will never find authentic faith. So a believer definitely is both. I think we just have to appreciate the differences between those who tend one way and those who tend the other way so we can effectively raise our kids to be strong in both areas.