Developing a Heart for Transformation

Dear Friends.

I know this greeting isn’t a normal way to start an article. It is more personal to remind us that how God develops our hearts for transformation is personal. Personal, not because it is based on how you feel—we must still soak in objective truth. And not because it depends on you—the Holy Spirit works in you as well as your learners. It just means that how God develops your heart for transformation is often different than how God may work in your friend.

Yesterday someone wanted to know why I try to ask questions when I talk with friends. We are on home assignment and meeting lots of people. When I ask questions, friends tell stories about their lives. Asking questions is an effort to show we care.

Yet I was asked again, “Why do you want to do that?” The best I could say is that we feel like God wants us to love others in this small way. I hope there aren’t selfish reasons behind asking questions and maybe there are. But the only reason I could give is because of God’s love for us. First John 4:19: “We love because He first loved us.”[1] Stepping into other lives is because God stepped into ours.

Why do you want to be used by God in transformation?

Transformation is messy. It involves lives and life touching life. The whole lives of learners. Praying, watching and working hard to find ways to connect and bring truth into each life. It’s about people, not about a subject. It’s about giving the gifts God has given you to your learners and making truths alive for them. Even though it is God who does the transformation, the work is not for the faint of heart.

He First Loved Us

As we begin to understand the depths of depravity from which He has brought us and continues to transform us, we begin to have a glimmer of His love and the same need others have.

“But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ…in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” (Ephesians 2:4-5)

Please take some time to consider His love. Maybe start with the passage in Ephesians 2:1-10. Even right now…

We and our learners need to know this love. Lives are messy, yet by God’s grace each can be a new creature and make sense of life. Your learners need your unconditional love, love that does not depend on a transaction that sounds like “You do this, and I will love you.” They need someone who is committed to the best for them, even when you have to say and do hard things. They need someone to sacrifice for them, to love them the way God has loved you.

Moving from His Love to Loving

How do we move from knowing we are loved to having a heart for each of our learners? Three things seem to help:

  1. Call. There are different ways to look at “call,” but basically it is recognizing how God is moving you to a place, a people, or a position. Your call often plays a large part in sustaining your heart and moving you to be with real people and real lives. What is your call?
  2. Conviction. Sometimes what drives our heart to act is conviction. Not just believing but believing enough to act. Often God places a conviction in your heart that brings you to the work of transformation in certain other lives. What are your convictions?
  3. Commitment. When you see real, unique learners, it is easier to love as God loves, committing to the best for each one. There is nothing that helps your heart more than looking into the faces of each learner, faces that reflect messy and rich lives made in God’s image. Lives that need you to give yourself to them. To whom are you committed?

Friends, I do not know how God is working in you so that you have a heart for transformation and can sustain it when things are hard. I do know it starts with Him: “Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God” (2 Corinthians 3:5).

Paul then says in 2 Corinthians 4:1: “Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we received mercy, we do not lose heart.” It’s by God’s grace.

By His love and grace, let’s pursue transformation in our lives and in the lives of those around us. Blessings,
Joe Neff
Director of Education Services
TeachBeyond Global

  1. Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995, 2020 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Photo Credits:
Prayer Time. Belize Christian Academy/TeachBeyond, 2017.
Personal. Icon made from Icon Fonts is licensed by CC BY 3.0. Resized.
Love of Teaching.
Lighthouse Primary School/TeachBeyond, 2020.