Commentary: Learning to follow your heart

I've heard it said that people won't change until they hurt enough that they have to. Based upon a recent experience, I believe this statement to be true.

Late last year, I experienced intermittent feelings of discomfort in the center of my chest. My dad had a heart attack when he was about my age, so I felt that these new sensations deserved some due diligence on my part.

After all, why have medical insurance if you never use it?

My doctor put me through every test imaginable. He punctured my veins with a sharp needle and drew blood. His nurse attached various wires to my rib cage and took electronic readings. My lungs were examined and I was provided a nifty instrument for inhaling steroids. When all of those experiments failed to produce any solid findings, he tormented me on a moving treadmill.

As my doctor and I worked through the results of our investigation, I simultaneously began to evaluate where I was investing my time.

One of my priorities in 2013 involved my participation on an international leadership team. I love helping catalyze global movement. The perks, which included air travel, nice hotels, new friendships and stimulating board room conversations, weren't bad either.

However, when I evaluated my overall experience, I recognized that my "return on investment" was poor. So with careful deliberation, I resigned.

My health saga helped me realize that Costa Mesa has my heart and I want to spend more time and energy loving her people.

To love a city strategically, encompasses many factors. One of those factors involves having a clear purpose.

A clear purpose drives action. Did you know that on the west side of town, Iglesia Harbor Church has the clear purpose of being a church "for" the city not just "in" the city?

During the academic school year, 50 to 70 children descend upon its campus to receive mentoring — all for free. Monday through Friday, from 3 to 5 p.m., Olga Parra champions her Wilson Street Learning Center staff to invest in the next generation of doctors, school teachers, firemen, chief executives, plumbers and maybe even pastors.

Friends, this is good stuff!

A clear purpose fosters teamwork. Back in August 2013, I invited Fred Navarro, our Newport-Mesa Unified School District superintendent, to join me on a Sunday morning. As a pastor, I want Palm Harvest Church attenders to be knowledgeable of our civic leaders, so I periodically arrange for these civic servants to join us for an informal interview. I have observed that most of these gifted leaders have families, are normal people and readily welcome encouragement, love and prayers.

Following that worship service, which is held on the IHC campus, I introduced Fred to Pastor Chris and Olga Parra, so that he could hear more about their neighborhood learning center. Not surprisingly, Fred was interested.

In the weeks that followed, school administrators visited the center to better determine how together we might enhance the education of our Newport-Mesa children. With the behind-the-scenes activity of Ed Fawcett, our Costa Mesa Chamber of Commerce president, classroom computers now nurture creative learning.

Here is my point: God has entrusted resources and talents to each one of us. And when we pool them, with a clear purpose, lives are positively impacted.

It is time for a heart check. Will you, in 2014, roll up your sleeves and invest more of yourself into those who call Costa Mesa home?

I pray that you will.

MIKE DECKER is the lead pastor of Palm Harvest Church on the Westside of Costa Mesa and a chaplain with the Costa Mesa Police Department.

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