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Don't "Follow Your Heart," Follow God's Heart - Helping Our Churches Resist the Cult of Self-Worship


If there’s one thing pastors can be certain of these days it is that their congregations are being discipled by well-funded and aggressive cultural forces to follow their own hearts.

  • Eighty-four percent of Americans believe that “the highest goal of life is to enjoy it as much as possible.”
  • Eighty-six percent believe that to be fulfilled requires you to “pursue the things you desire most.”
  • A whopping ninety-one percent believe that “the best way to find yourself is to look within yourself.”

We must recognize that the call to follow our hearts, put our enjoyment first, and look within for answers is not just used to drive Disney plotlines, provide a catchy hook for pop songs, or sell Barbies. Make no mistake, what we are facing is a full blown religion—what I call the Cult of Self-Worship. This cult, also known as “expressive individualism,” is antithetical to Christianity at every point. It comes with its own Decalogue, its own 10 Commandments. You may recognize some…

#liveyourbestlife: Thou shalt always act in accord with your chief end—to glorify and enjoy yourself forever.

#okboomer: Thou shalt never be outdated, but always on the edge of the new.

#followyourheart: Thou shalt obey your emotions at all costs.

#betruetoyourself: Thou shalt be courageous enough to defy others people’s expectations.

#youdoyou: Thou shalt live your truth and let others live theirs.

#yolo: Thou shalt pursue the rush of boundary-free experience.

#theanswersarewithin: Thou shalt trust yourself, never letting anyone oppress you with the antiquated notion of being a “sinner.”

#authentic: Thou shalt invent and advertise thine own identity.

#livethedream: Thou shalt force the universe to bend to your desires.

#loveislove: Thou shalt celebrate all lifestyles and love-lives as equally valid.

Abiding by these ten popular commandments is a recipe for anxiety, depression, and despair, as finite creatures buckle under the impossible Creator-sized weight of defining reality. This cult of self-worship . . .

. . . promises our most awesome life, but robs us of awe.

. . . markets itself as cutting-edge, but is hopelessly outdated.

. . . commands us to follow our hearts, but our hearts are divided and depraved.

. . . encourages us to be true to ourselves, but makes us unwitting devotees to miserable men.

. . . tells us to be our own moral masters, but strips us of courage and credibility.

. . . calls us to the rush of unfettered experience and adventure, but becomes impossibly dull.

. . . tells us the answers are within, but that’s where the problems are.

. . . beckons us to be authentic, but makes us arrogant.

. . . claims we can break the structure of reality, but reality breaks us back.

. . . advertises itself as loving, but makes bigots and haters of us all.

Our churches, our pastors, our parents, must be well prepared to treat the droves of casualties, especially our youth, exhausted and battered by the false god of self. How do we best help rising generations subvert the Cult of Self-Worship? How do we disciple Christians to live countercultural lives, lives marked by awe for the God of the Bible, rejection of the ancient serpent’s lie to define our own reality, looking to God’s Word rather than within ourselves for answers, and following God’s heart before our own hearts?


Don’t Follow Your Heart: Boldly Breaking the Ten Commandments of Self-Worship is a resource designed for pastors looking for a timely message series, church leadership teams seeking to understand the cultural moment to best serve their communities, and parents seeking to raise the next generation to follow God’s heart.

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