Where Does Your Compass Point?

Jack Sparrow compass

One of the plot devices in the Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy was Captain Jack Sparrow’s compass. Instead of pointing toward north, it always pointed in the direction of the most desired treasure of the heart of the person holding it. What confused and irritated Johnny Depp and Keira Knightley was that the compass was all too accurate: it changed direction with changes in their hearts and sometimes it revealed that their heart’s treasure was not what their mind thought (or wanted) it to be.

Why does that plot device so resonate with us? Because we are like Captain Jack— we realize that sometimes we don’t truly know where our heart is pointing, while at other times we feel it pointing in a different direction than we want.

The human heart is a complex and subtle creation, and seldom easily understood. Where is your compass pointing? Do you know? Is it swinging back and forth? Is it pointing in a direction that your mind is at odds with?

Since you don’t happen to be holding Captain Jack’s compass in your hand, how do you find out where you heart is pointing to? To start, slowly, thoughtfully ask yourself some of these questions (and don’t be too quick to answer!):

  • What do I hope for?
  • What do I daydream about?
  • What would devastate me if I could not one day achieve it?
  • What would devastate me if I lost it?
  • What do I put all my energy into?
  • What is success to me personally, or failure or satisfaction or happiness or fulfillment?
  • What do I truly want to be able to look back on when I die and say that I experienced or accomplished?

Think over these questions, and write down the answers that come to you.

It’s important to answer the question “Where is my compass pointing?” But it’s MORE important to answer the question “Is it pointing in the right direction?” Now how can you find that out? Time for more questions:

Is it true about me? I had a friend in college who was pre-med, but he wasn’t really meant to be a doctor, he was a researcher at heart, and when he realized his compass was pointing at medicine only because his Dad was a doctor, he was able to steer a different course.

Is it dependent on circumstances or people beyond my control? Let’s say your compass bearing is “raise successful kids.” That’s certainly a noble goal, but what if one of your kids turns out rotten? Does that mean you’re a failure? And does that mean you live in fear or anxiety every day or lash out in anger at your kids when they mess up? If you change your compass to “give my kids a wise and loving upbringing” you can be confident you can achieve this goal regardless of how your children may or may not turn out.

Is it focused on me or on greater things? Yes, Donald Trump has successfully steered his life according to his compass but unfortunately he’s a jerk for doing so. There is a moral dimension to where our compass is pointing that we cannot disallow.

Although he wasn’t thinking about a mascara-wearing pirate when he said it, Jesus once commented on the treasures of our heart in Matthew 6:19-21:

Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

I think he had it right: our heart really does point to where our treasure is, and it really is vital to know what direction that compass is pointing to, and whether the treasure of our hearts is one that we will enjoy for eternity or one that will crumble one day.

I would encourage you to take some time, and think about your compass— it can have a profound effect on your life. I recently on the counsel of a wise and good friend did just that, and saw my heart pointing in some directions I needed to change. After some soul searching and talking with God, I came up with some compass directions that have made a real difference in my day to day living:

I treasure…

  • God’s Word, His Presence, His love for me
  • Putting every last ounce of my strength into the Kingdom of God (well, & blonde jokes too)
  • Learning to love as God loves
  • Learning to walk with God
  • Moving with strength & wisdom & power & joy & love into the lives of my brothers & sisters in Christ and others God puts in my life
  • That I will never be defeated

God calls us all to follow Him, all along the unique path that He has laid out for us. Find your true compass bearing, and follow it today.

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