Whatever You Do, Don’t Follow Your Heart

“Follow Your Arrow.” It’s a slogan I’ve seen everywhere from Pinterest to T-shirts. But just because something is popular or pinable doesn’t mean it’s truth. Right?

So let’s chase that little arrow, er . . . saying for a while, shall we? Join me as I step into the ring and wrestle with this important question:

Should I follow my heart?

We will get to the heart of this matter in a minute, but let’s start with our brains.

Proverbs 28:26 gives us a shocking jolt:

Whoever trusts in his own mind is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom will be delivered.

Would you mind reading that passage again? Let it sink deep into your cranium.

Just because you think it doesn’t mean it’s true. The idea that our own thoughts about ourselves cannot be trusted, that we are not qualified to know who we are, isn’t an easy truth to accept. It means that all the cute things we see stuck everywhere . . .

  • Know thyself.
  • Live your truth.
  • Don’t wait for permission to be who you are . . .

It’s all hogwash.

It may not be popular or Pinteresting, but it’s true. Your thoughts about yourself and the world around you aren’t always true. And while we are on the subject, your heart is lying to you, too.

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? (Jer. 17:9).

Your heart will lie to you about who or what is worthy of your affections. “If it feels good, it is good,” your heart will say. This is a lie that Satan has been telling since the Garden of Eden.

He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” (Gen. 3:1).

Notice the tempter was trying to get Eve to trust her own brain. When that didn’t work immediately, he took a different approach:

But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (vv. 4–5).

Here the enemy was tapping into the deepest desires of Eve’s heart—the desire to understand the universe around her, the desire to be like God, the desire to be in control. Eve trusted those desires, and nibble . . . crunch . . . fall—she found herself trapped and permanently changed by sin.

A Trustworthy Voice

See if you recognize these popular slogans:

“Follow your heart.”

Truth: Please don’t! It will take your life down the toilet.

“Follow your heart but take your brain with you.”

Truth: Nope and nope.

“Follow your arrow.”

Truth: Well, if the arrow is your heart, that won’t work. If the arrow is your brain, that won’t work either. (If the arrow is just an arrow, I’m not sure what we’re all talking about!)

It’s admittedly not as warm and fuzzy, but how’s this for a dose of truth?

“I can’t trust my brain, and my heart is a sick liar.”

That’s the cloud, but here’s the silver lining:

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27).

There is a voice that can be trusted. It’s the voice of the Good Shepherd. His trustworthy voice is accessible to us at all times through His Word.

Our own voice doesn’t always tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Just because you think it doesn’t mean it’s true. Just because you feel it doesn’t mean you should act on it. That’s why we need God’s help to turn down the volume of our head and hearts and turn up His Truth. Doing so is a lifelong process. It requires us to run to the deep well of God’s Word often to help us see the difference between perceived truth and actual Truth.

Don’t follow your arrow, sweet girl. Follow Jesus. He will never, ever lead you astray.

About Author

Erin Davis

Erin is passionate about pointing young women toward God's Truth. She is the author of several books and a frequent speaker and blogger to women of all ages. Erin lives on a small farm in the midwest with her husband and kids. When she's not writing, you can find her herding goats, chickens, and children.

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  • Claire Pierce

    Awesome post!

  • Olivia W.

    Yes yes yes!!! I was literally grinning when I saw that title. “Follow your heart”, “Be yourself”, “Just do it”; all those catchy slogans drive me bananas! I see so many christian girls celebrating those kinds of messages, and I think, “You have a christian family. You go to church. You must know the Bible at least to some extent. So think about it for a second and maybe you’ll realize the worldliness in these sayings!”

    • Ama

      Hi Olivia, I love that you are holding on to God’s truth, which is the only way to go! Your last sentence sort of sounds like you can enjoy your life OR you can trust and obey God, which I’m sure you don’t mean. I have found that I enjoy the Lord AND my life the most when I am trusting and obeying. You’d be surprised the kind of cool things that God actually wants you to do sometimes! John Piper wrote a book many years ago on something he called “Christian Hedonism” and in it he argues that the chief end of man is to glorify God BY enjoying Him forever! 🙂

      • Olivia W.

        After rereading that sentence, yeah, I see that I worded that pretty badly. That’s definitely not what I meant. I find a lot of joy in living for God’s glory; more joy than I can ever have otherwise. I’ll try to rewrite that so it doesn’t sound that way.

  • Tanya

    God answered me through this post! He is awesome God!
    Thank you!

  • So true! I see that phrase around a lot and it drives me crazy, because that’s obviously NOT Scriptural!

  • Proverbs 31 girl in Training

    “Follow your heart” is on so many things. I see little girls shirts with that saying plastered all over it. It is sad that innocent girls minds are being poisoned. When I hear this saying, I think of Disney Princess movies. One that particularly stands out is Pocahontas. Don’t get me wrong I love Disney movies, but they have so much girl power involved. Talk about the feminist movement in children’s movies!! Thank you for the reminder!!! “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understandings. In all your ways acknowledge him and he shall direct your paths.”

    • Magdiel De Salas

      I agree and was thinking the same thing. It is ALL over every Disney movie.

    • First Amendment

      Yeah, I HATE when my daughter watches Disney movies and somehow thinks it’s ok to believe she has political, economic, and social equality of the sexes! Like COME ON Disney– this feminist POISON that is empowering my daughter has GOT to END! #ColdWarPt.2

      • Joanne

        I thought you were pro feminist!

  • Natalie

    Thank you Erin. This was for me a very well timed message. It speaks directly to my current situation. I’m sure it’s applicable for everyone on this blog. Comfortable no, needed yes. Thanks for speaking the truth 🙂

  • Ruby Bartle

    Yes!!! I’ve been reading Proverbs and this is the thing that really stood out for me! Thanks Erin!!

  • kristi

    How do you balance this with Psalm 37:4 – “Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” I think that we need to be careful when we say “don’t follow your heart”. Obviously, if your “heart” is wanting to do something blatantly sinful – then – don’t follow your heart – but there has to be room for dreaming and desires.
    I totally agree that we can do nothing good in and of ourselves – that is not the issue. I think we make God small when we, as believers, only “approve” of decisions that make sense and are totally within what we expect and are “safe”.
    I say this because there was a time in my single life when I had a “desire” to do something out of the ordinary for me(not sinful in and of itself and not out of a selfish motivation) and I submitted to the advice of “older” women and didn’t pursue it. I look back on this and I realize that I could have/should have followed my desire. The flip side is that our hearts also crave “safety” for us and the ones that we love – which can be an idol, too. There might be times when we have to understand that God is “big enough” to follow a passion that is out of our comfort zone – and exercise our faith.

    • me

      If we are truly following God his desires will become ours. Plus God is a good father, so He wouldn’t want us to be miserable.:)

  • jaymarie jach

    In all honesty, I am confused as to how one would come to the point of trusting God if they aren’t using either their heart and/or mind? Wouldn’t the decision to follow Christ always be suspect considering that it was a “decision” and therefore necessitated trusting our heart or brain (or both).

    • me

      When you have a decision to make, pray about it and search out verses about it in the Bible. God will give you direction. Also, make sure that whatever decision you make lines up with God’s word. Make sure to seek counsel. So yes, you need to “use your brain”, but God will be the one to help you make the final decision. If you walk with the Lord daily, your heart will want to please and follow Him. If you do slip up and make a poor decision, pray for God to help you return to the right. He is so gracious and forgiving. You will develop strength and dicernment as you grow.

  • Sarah A.

    This post reminded me of one of my favorite songs that talks about this subject:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bdu7R6FwLCg

    • Celestria

      Oh I love this one!!! Thank you for posting this, now I’ll add it to my spotify playlist ha(:

      • Sarah A.

        Yes! It’s one of my favorites, I was listening to Anthem Lights and this started me thinking about this kind of thing. Actually, a lot of their music started me thinking about lots of different things, which the Lord used to help me mature a lot in the past 6 months or so.

        • Celestria

          That’s so awesome!!(:

          • Sarah A.

            It’s so awesome how God can use something as simple as a song to start something that can change our lives! What I find is also amazing is how He can use the same song to speak to me at different times about completely different things! There’s one song that always gets me when it comes on, about one thing or another, and I’m so amazed how the Lord uses things like that!

          • Olivia W.

            I feel like I’m interrupting now… xD But, I totally agree! For me, it was a simple book that was the turning point in my life 🙂

          • Sarah A.

            You’re not interrupting at all! That’s so cool! I really enjoy some of the nonfiction books I’ve read because it’s like learning from someone who’s so much wiser and more experienced than me and some books it almost feels like they’re just sitting there talking with you and giving you advice! Do you mind me asking what book it was that impacted you so much?

          • Olivia W.

            It was Do Hard Things and Start Here 😉 I’ve also read books great books like Radical, but the reason those two impacted me so much is probably because they were the first christian non-fiction books that I read.

            That doesn’t make much sense does it….

          • Sarah A.

            That’s cool!
            Don’t worry, I think it makes sense. But maybe we’re just both crazy. 😉
            Do Hard Things, Crazy Love, and Forgotten God all had a really big impact on me.
            Have you ever read A Young Woman After God’s Own Heart by Elizabeth George?

          • Olivia W.

            Nope, haven’t read that one. dk about you, but I am most certainly crazy! xD

          • Sarah A.

            It’s really good, I recommend it for teenage girls.
            I’m definitely crazy too, lol! 🙂 But, to quote Lewis Carrol, “all the best people are.” (My older brother tells me that all the time)

          • Celestria

            I know! I remember sitting in the car one day while my mom was in the store. I was really depressed about life and some things that were going on that I felt like I just couldn’t handle. And that Mercy Me song Move came on and I knew that God was just speaking to me. And the part that got me the most was “I just might bend but I won’t break, as long as I can see your face.”

          • Sarah A.

            That’s so cool!
            For me, I was at a point in my life where I felt like I didn’t have any friends. I had acquaintances and knew a lot of people, but I didn’t have any close friends. And I was upset because I felt like everyone had friends except for me. So I was sitting in my room listening to the radio on night and By Your Side by Tenth Avenue North came on. It’s written like God is talking to you, and the part that got me was, “Why are you looking for love? Why are you still searching, as if I’m not enough?” And I started crying because I realized that God was telling me that I needed to really know and understand that He is all I need. Since then that song has always been special to me and always gets me when it comes on.

          • Celestria

            Girl, I know how that is. Friends have come and gone in my life so much, I just want like one super best friend that will last forever!!! Lol I try to remember that even during the lonely times, I do have Him and he loves and understands me better than anyone on earth ever could. Still hard sometimes though.

          • Sarah A.

            Same here. I know how it feels to see everyone else have a best friend and feel like you’re the only one who doesn’t. And to be praying for just one friend.

  • Noah Schumacher (NOLIMAPS)

    Hi! 🙂 Great post. I’ve had a lot weighing on my heart lately, and am trying to figure out what God wants me to do. I am somewhat confused because I don’t understand the difference between following my heart or following what the Holy Spirit is telling me to do.
    To have this make more sense, let me explain my issue. 🙂 I’ve been writing books since I was eleven years old. Mostly Christian fantasy novels (I love symbolism!!;) and some other random ramblings, and it’s been my hope since I was 12 that I would publish my books, and through them help lead others in the direction of Christ. I know now that that probably isn’t likely; plus, I don’t want to put myself on center stage when I want God to have the glory. I guess I’m scared that I’m doing this for myself, or that I’ll make some huge mistake and lead people astray, or disappoint God (another lie, I know, but it creeps into my head a lot). And all that pressure under the thought of, “I don’t think I’ll ever publish anything.” So what is the point? All this stress and I haven’t even written anything for weeks. I’m at a turning point, I guess, and I don’t know whether or not I should be more diligent in writing because it is a gift God has given me and I’m passionate about, or to stop altogether if it is wasting my time. I’ve tried taking breaks from it, and lately I’ve been asking God for direction, but I don’t feel like I’ve gotten any clear answer. I can’t tell the difference in following my heart and the Holy Spirit working in me. So I don’t trust either because of that. And look at that, I have an entire book written up there for you of my worries and stresses! xD Sorry! But if you could help me at all, that’d be great! I need some direction in figuring out how to define Christ’s voice, I guess, when I can’t hear him audibly, and how to trust him. Any tips?

    • Olivia W.

      Hi Noah,
      Knowing God’s will for my life is something that I’ve been struggling with a lot recently too. I’ve had to choose whether or not to do something, and I felt like God wanted me to do it, but I wasn’t sure. All my doubts and worries almost defeated me. I decided to just “take a break” from thinking about it, but it turned out that didn’t work. No matter how hard I tried, my thoughts always came back to that topic. I prayed a lot, and yet I didn’t feel like God was answering me. I didn’t think he was saying yes, but I didn’t think he was saying no. Well, I decided that if God didn’t want me to do this, he would change the situation so that I wouldn’t be able to do it, but since it seemed to be the right thing, I just went ahead and chose to do it. It was a huge leap of faith for me, and I have yet to find out what the result will be.

      I don’t think you should stop writing. Don’t think about the probability of getting published. Kristin Clark & Bethany Baird and Alex & Brett Harris are both examples that if God wants your book published, he’ll make it happen; the probability doesn’t matter. We all struggle with pride sometimes, but I think from how much you care about whether God wants you to do this or not, it’s evident that you aren’t just doing it for your own sake.

      If you have a passion for something that is good, it’s probably a God-given passion and you should follow it. (Just as long as you don’t get so focused on it that it becomes an idol.)

      • Noah {NOLIA}

        Thank you so much for your help! I will take your advice. I’m glad to know I’m not alone in the struggle. 🙂 God bless!!

    • Carrie @ Revive Our Hearts

      Isaiah 48:17 says, “I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go (Isa. 48:17).”

      Discerning God’s direction comes through His Word, His Spirit, and His people, Noah Schumacher. Talk with your parents, your youth pastor or an older godly friend who knows you well. Seek their counsel; commit to praying for God’s direction in your life. God’s designed us to learn, grow and mature in community not as isolated individuals.

      Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth says, “ I think as we seek God’s will, it’s important to remember that God’s will is not a place. It’s not a job. It’s a lifestyle. It’s a heart.”

      You might also check out this post on “How to Figure Out God’s Will” (http://www.liesyoungwomenbelieve.com/index.php?id=792).

      Grace and peace,
      Carrie

  • Aubri

    Hi, I’m just a little confused- does this mean I shouldn’t be myself and I shouldn’t follow my dreams? I love and praise our God as much as the next guy, but I really don’t understand. Does this mean I don’t (or shouldn’t) have a personality at all? And I shouldn’t do what I want to do in life? Or does this mean I should never do anything but praise Jesus Christ?

    • Carrie @ Revive Our Hearts

      We are created uniquely and individually by God, Aubri. Ephesians 2 tells us, we were created as God’s masterpiece to accomplish His plans through us.

      We each have unique personalities, talents, passions, and for those who have placed their faith in Jesus unique spiritual giftings.

      As followers of Jesus – as we learn what it means to trust Him and to walk in His ways we come to realize there are no greater plans for our life than those that Jesus has for us. Eye has not seen and ear has not heard, and which have not entered the heart of man, all that God has planned for those who love Him (1 Corinthians 2:9).

      We follow Him, friend. We ask Him to give us heart. His plans and purposes for our lives always align with His Word.

      Grace and peace,
      Carrie

  • Anni Welborne

    Rich Mullins has a great song about this called Maker of Noses. The chorus is:
    http://www.allthelyrics.com/lyrics/rich_mullins/the_maker_of_noses-lyrics-657952.html#ixzz457erGqmB

    Well they said boy you just follow your heart
    But my heart just led me into my chest
    They said follow your nose
    But the direction changed every time I went and turned my head
    And they said boy you just follow your dreams
    But my dreams were only misty notions
    But the Father of hearts and the Maker of noses
    And the Giver of dreams He’s the one I have chosen

    • Tera V.

      I love this song so much! 🙂

  • Hannah T.

    Wow. This is basically what I’ve been taught my entire life. Don’t follow your heart or your dreams.

  • dpierce

    My heart lead me to frustration, despair..for it told me there were great things out there. But what I saw was a million small things I tried to ignor. Life consists of a few great “events” and the rest are roften dull outines to follow, and many problems to resolve.. that overshadow a perfectly good morning. It is ok to speak to your heart and tell it to have hope when there is none, but it is not going to be our own doing to guide your heart to peace, a hopeful “dream”. Our hearts tell us we are powerful, that we are the shepherd over our own lives. Not true. We are just sheep..and the Lord is our Shepherd, our great opportunity to find truely green pastures, and still waters..and creativity, and love..Once we put Christ in His rightful place, His dreams for the world also become our own, His power to overcome ours as well. God changes events, people, problems and gives us a gracious way out of problems we created ourselves, so we have time to do things we love to do: , for God gives those who serve Him..creative time and “events” far more interesting than can ever be mustered by our hearts’ imaginings. “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard what God has prepared for those who (just) love Him.” Our job is to love God and love our neighbor as ourselves. We cannot do it without trusting in the Lord with all of our heart, and not leaning to our own imagining, our own comprehension alone. Our “dreams” can get in the way of..God’s and create, in the end..a dead end for us. Nothing lasts.

  • Karen Elaine Fulmer

    Amen! Thank you so much Erin for this post! 🙂 A good reminder for this day and age.

  • hannah

    u always hear follow ur heart as advice when u ask some one and thats not always the best thing to so thanks for reminding us.

  • Krista Lee

    I am 43 and only learned this lesson (really learned this lesson) a few years ago. If our teens can learn this lesson now, this early in their life, how much wiser they will be and make better choices. Thank you for writing this much needed article.

  • Tera V.

    “They say ‘boy, you just follow your heart’, but my heart just led me into my chest. They say ‘follow your nose’ but the direction changes every time I go and turn my head. And they say ‘boy, you just follow your dreams’, but my dreams are only misty notions. But the Father of hearts and the Maker of noses and the Giver of dreams is the one I have chosen and I will follow Him.” -Rich Mullins, “Maker of Noses”