Last week in my exercise class, the instructor kept telling us, “Lead with your heart.” And, I kept trying. Our instructor would stand tall at the front of the class and demonstrate for us: shoulders back, rib cage lifted, her heart presented forward to the world.

I grew up in ballet classes. I was practically born with ballet slippers on my feet. I know how to lead with my heart. I know how to lift my rib cage, lower my shoulders, and let my heart take me where the music leads. But, last week, in that exercise class, I couldn’t quite get it. My shoulders kept folding forward and my chin kept dipping low, closing my heart off from the world.

“Breathe,” the instructor said. “And let your heart lead.”

She kept prompting us, and I kept trying to follow where she was trying to get me to go. At one point, the instructor said to us, “It feels vulnerable, right?”

Throughout the one-hour class, I did my best to let my heart lead, physically. And I started to wonder if this was a prompt our instructor always gave to us. Or was she homing in on something different today? Maybe she always said it, but today was the day I noticed it? I couldn’t be sure. What I do know is this: as the class rounded the fifty-minute mark, my body and my soul finally connected, and I wondered if this was more of a message from God, through my instructor, and straight to me.

So, as we all sat together on the floor, stretching our limbs and trying to lead from our hearts, I sent up a little prayer, searching for clarity.

“God,” I said in my head, as I sat on the floor of Fellowship Hall in the Episcopal Church where the exercise class is held, “if You’re trying to tell me something, here, can You just do me a favor and make it clear that this is a message from You and not simply something my exercise instructor is trying to get me to hear? So, how about this? If she says the, ‘Lead with your heart,’ thing again, I’ll know it’s from You.” And, just as I finished praying those words in my head, our instructor said, “Maybe the thing you’re supposed to take from this class today is the reminder to lead with your heart.”

So, I’ve been carrying that around with me for the past week. Lead with your heart. 

I am tempted here, to tell you what I think it means for me to lead with my heart. And I could type up a list of five ways to lead with your heart and paste the list here in this space, so that you’d have a reference point. But I don’t think that’s what I’m supposed to do. I think, today, what I’m supposed to do, is pass along the message to you: Lead with your heart.

Our reference point is Jesus. Our guidebook is the Bible. Our mission is love.

Pure and simple. As plain as that. Vulnerable? Yes. Counter-cultural? Indeed. But, maybe it’s exactly what we need, for such a time as this.

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  • Bev @ Walking Well With God

    I had to smile because I do the same thing…I say to God, “If you really want me to hear/do something would you _____________”. I think it’s okay to ask God something because it means we are seeking to follow His lead and do His will. And, sometimes like what He did with you, He leaves me to ponder awhile. God is patient…I’m the one who’s not. “Lead with your heart”…I am going to ponder this today. You were prompted to pass this message on and I’m reading it today. The answer may look different for all who read, but I will ask God what this means for me?! Just like His word, none of God’s promptings return void.
    Blessings to you today as you lead with your heart,

    • http://www.deidrariggs.com/ Deidra

      Thanks, Bev. I’ll be praying as you ponder. :)

  • Lynn D. Morrissey

    Oh my goodness, Deidra. What a powerful admonition. And I didn’t even have to pay the price of that class (whether financially or physically) to get the message, loudly and clearly. Lead with my heart. So true, that as I Christian, I know my mind is important (especially as one ages and goes through those daily, “Now why did I come in here? repetitions). I want to be able to think clearly and correctly and truthfully. I want to know what God says and to obey. The world is a confusing (and often false) place, and I want to have the truth of His light to dispel darkness. But there is another kind of darkness that needs not just light, but warmth–a darkness of hatred and suspicion and disrespect that needs to be dispelled. I’m thinking that a little heart-warming–a little walking around in another’s heart–a little asking, “Now why did I come here to this place, to this time, to meet you in my path, and how can I understand who you are and what you are facing?”–could go a long way in helping me to *live* the Gospel in its fullest sense….to love God with all my HEART and also my MIND and my soul and my strength, and in so doing, to love my neighbor as myself. I’ve been learning a lot about that heart-leading from you. And I’m so glad that we’ve met. Keep leading with your heart, Deidra. I love where it’s taking you.

    • http://www.deidrariggs.com/ Deidra

      You always complete the message. Thanks, Lynn. You bring such a rich perspective to this post today.

  • http://sunnyand80.org/ Meg Bucher

    Oh how I needed this today. I am beside myself this week in debate over whether to put my cat to sleep. I know that she is sick and suffering, and am unclear how fair it is to prolong the inevitable by medicating her. I’ve prayed so hard for God to make the decision for me… But I’m so caught up in my thoughts I might not be able to hear the answer! Pray for me today that I can let my heart lead, and that my heart is guiding me by His light and love.
    Happy Tuesday!

    • Penny


      I’m so sorry that you are going through this. My prayers are with you.
      hugs to you,

    • Beth Williams

      So sorry for your precious cat!! I know how hard it is to lose a pet and family member!! Years ago my dad put down our cat who had gotten sick! I feel your pain in losing a good friend!! May God help you to know what to do and give you the strength to do it! Prayers as you grieve the passing of your beloved pet and family member! May God surround you with His love, grace and mercy and hold you tight!
      Blessings :)

    • http://www.deidrariggs.com/ Deidra

      I want you to know I saw this when you first posted it, and I prayed for you then. How are things going, Meg?

      • http://sunnyand80.org/ Meg Bucher

        Deidra, you are so sweet, and I apologize for my slow reply. We are planning on saying goodbye to my sweet kitty this week. It’s sad, because even though she’s sick her temperament is sweet. Poor soul. Thank you for praying!

  • Becca Daisy

    Just beautiful….I was on the train heading to work and I had to step off at one of the stops and breathe. This just took my breath away today and made my heart beat so fast. Thank you. And so, with my heart I will lead….

    • http://www.deidrariggs.com/ Deidra

      Oh, that image of you stepping off the train to catch your breath! Yes. Sometimes, we have to step away in order to get our bearings. Only then can we take that breath and then lead from the heart. Thank you so much for sharing, Becca!

  • Penny

    Thank-you so much Deidre,

    This has helped clarify what has me unsettled. ‘To lead with your heart’. I will remember.

    Blessings to you,

    • http://www.deidrariggs.com/ Deidra

      Peace to you, Penny.

  • http://www.jenniferdukeslee.com/ dukeslee

    You do this. You lead with the heart.

    Love you.

    • http://www.deidrariggs.com/ Deidra


  • Sandi Aldridge

    I needed to read this. Thank you so much for sharing.

    • http://www.deidrariggs.com/ Deidra

      Thank YOU, Sandi. Peace, sister.

  • Lovelle

    This is sooo good! It’s easy to make head decisions. To think logically instead of godly. Sometimes what God asks us to do is crazy and it may not make sense. Our heart may say yes, but your minds may scream no. This was a good reminder to let God lead my life and make decisions based on what He wants so thanks!

    • http://www.deidrariggs.com/ Deidra

      Hey, girl! You’re welcome! :)

  • A

    Deidra, I praise God and thank you for this message. I needed this today so much-it speaks to me of seeking the Lord and His heart first, going out there open and vulnerable with His love. I pray that He helps each of us to lead with the hearts He has given us to help a broken world. May your days be blessed :)

    • http://www.deidrariggs.com/ Deidra

      Thanks for sharing, A. Blessings as you go…

  • smoothstones

    Needed this, today.

    • http://www.deidrariggs.com/ Deidra


  • Keri Siegel

    Greetings, I am a journalism major who attends classes online. It’s very fast paced (I get a new class every five weeks) and it’s demanding (I have a major assignment due once/week that takes me an average of four days to put together); but I love it. My class week goes from Tuesday to Monday. When I write, I generally don’t do outlines first because by the time I have my notes on my references, I generally know where my piece is going; but we had an outline due last night for an assignment coming up in Week Five of my current class. I was able to choose between one of five topics for this assignment. I started looking for my references on Thursday as I prayed over my topic. Theoretically, that should have been enough time to go through references and put my outline together. It took me until Sunday after church to find my first reference and it wasn’t even on a topic I was planning to choose; but as I yielded to where the Holy Spirit was guiding me, I ended up with nine references and only five were required. When I turned in my outline last night, it wasn’t even my best outline because I was still going through references. So, I attached a note to my instructor that simply said that my outline was incomplete because I was still going through references but I wanted to submit it on time. Even though I seldom do outlines, I don’t generally have problems with them once I do. I needed an extra day, but I couldn’t ask for it because it wastes a health issue that led to the problem, nor was it my instructor’s fault or responsibility. So, I expect that I’ll get some points deducted; but I got it in on time. As I read this article, I was silently praying about why I had so much trouble locating references. I did everything right as far as I knew. I set my atmosphere to praise and worship music and I prayed over my topic and my references for two days before I looked for one. I couldn’t figure out what went wrong. Then, I had “Lead from your heart!” leap off the page. I think, that’s what I missed too. I was turning in an assignment that I didn’t want to do (an outline) and it got in the way of selecting my references for the outline, which was a preliminary assignment for an upcoming piece in Week Five. Now, I have the same enthusiasm that I generally do for this upcoming assignments. Thank you for sharing. Be blessed.

    • http://www.deidrariggs.com/ Deidra

      Thanks so much for sharing this story, Keri! I read this when you first posted it and said a quick prayer for you. Let us know how it goes, okay?

  • Nancy Ruegg

    Your experience of having a clarification-prayer answered immediately made me smile, too. Such a delight when God reveals himself in such unmistakable ways. But I also appreciate that his word to you will require some meditation and prayerful thought–and challenges us to do the same. Thank you, Diedra!

    • http://www.deidrariggs.com/ Deidra

      Amen to that. I sometimes wonder why God doesn’t answer that quickly and clearly all the time. But, then I realize I’d get used to it and start looking for something more from him. He knows me so well.

      • Nancy Ruegg

        And Amen to THAT, Deidra, you are so right. (He knows ALL of us so well!)

  • JeanneTakenaka

    Deidra, it IS hard to lead with my heart . . . to come to that place where my body and my soul connect. The busy-ness of the season, heck of every day of the year, make it hard to be still enough to let my heart lead, to be sensitive to God’s promptings for the day. I try, but I fail many days.

    As I ponder this today, I’m going to work (listen to me—work) on developing the practice of stillness. So I can hear God’s leading in my heart, and let my heart lead, especially in this season.

    Thank you for this.

    • http://www.deidrariggs.com/ Deidra

      It’s such a tension, isn’t it? That balance of logic and release? Or, even of working toward freedom, which is such a dichotomy. Surrender. That’s the ticket, I think. Surrender unto surrender…

  • Rebecca Jones

    I like that, lead with your heart….also breathe!

    • http://www.deidrariggs.com/ Deidra

      Yes. Breathing. Sometimes I think breathing is becoming a lost art. ;)

  • http://www.lorischumaker.com Lori Schumaker

    A touching reminder that seems just right for such a time as this. Thank you for the simplicity of this. Not a how-to, just Jesus, the Bible, and love.
    Blessings and smiles,

    • http://www.deidrariggs.com/ Deidra

      I read your comment as “how-to Jesus.” As in, a Jesus who stands there with a list of things we need to do in order to be “in.” I think I do that to him sometimes. I think I make him up in my mind as someone who’s making a list and checking it twice to see if I’ve been naughty or nice. But, that’s not Jesus! That’s Santa! Ha! I’ve got nothing against Santa, but he’s not Jesus. That’s for sure. :)

  • Beth Williams

    It is so heartwarming when God answers our prayers immediately and gives us a little insight into what He wants us to hear!

    • http://www.deidrariggs.com/ Deidra

      Amen! Blessings on your ministry, Beth! What an adventure!

  • http://www.marybonner.net/ Mary Bonner

    WOW! Just WOW! Our reference point, our guidebook and our mission…what a beautiful reminder you have given us, Deidra. Thank you.

    • http://www.deidrariggs.com/ Deidra

      Thank you, Mary! You live these things so well. Love you, sister!

  • Lauren Heller

    Leading with your heart is HARD. It is risky and scary and often times messy, especially when you are new at it. These are encouraging words to a girl who is awkward and shy with her heart. Thanks so much for sharing, Deidra. ❤️