It’s hard to place a value on growing up with two parents who love you. Orphans often grow up deprived of key relationships and develop differently as adults, seeing the world in a different way. A person such as this, even though they may understand why, still struggles with their feelings and thoughts in a way that others never do.
In addition, sometimes people grow up with parents of varying abilities and care, and yet somehow are orphans in their hearts towards others, and especially towards leadership. We call this the orphan heart, and others have called it the orphan spirit. It’s not the kind of spirit you can cast out because its actually the person themselves and the way they think and see themselves and the world around them.
Such a person is disconnected from others, finds it hard to trust people, especially leaders, and often struggles with feeling inadequate, has low self-esteem and may feel resentment, bitterness and other negative emotions. It can be hard for them to relax around spiritual leaders and to “give the heart” because their feelings don’t let them. They are an orphan in the heart, even though in practical terms they were not an orphan.
Apostle Chuck Clayton used to tell the story of when in his younger years in the ministry, he had a large church full of fine people who would do anything he asked of them. They were prepared to work hard. They would clean buildings and work on the church grounds. They would participate in meetings and work at all aspects of the ministry. But Chuck could not understand why he felt he could never really trust them. He had puzzled for years why this was so, but later came to realise why. They had never given him their hearts!
Without the giving of our hearts to each other, trust is not established and intimacy cannot grow. Without the giving of the heart there is no sonship. Without the giving of the heart, we have not laid aside our own agendas. Without the giving of the heart there is always room for an Absalom to arise, who deceives people, or steals away the ministry. You cannot build a work for God, you cannot build community, without the giving of the heart to each other in love, acceptance, and honour.
You may have sung a popular worship song in church with these words: “Come, now is the time to worship, now is the time to give your heart.”
Most people think that we must give our hearts to Christ and then we are born again, and yet the message of sonship, and the whole new wineskin God is building goes further. We must give our hearts to each other. Jesus said, “A new command I give to you, love one another.” (John 13:34) This is the giving of the heart, and it is all about fellowship with each other, as well as fellowship with God.
For people who struggle with fear of intimacy, self-esteem issues, and other feelings of rejection, there needs to be an acknowledgement of these issues, so that they can begin healing. In our church we have a number of stories of people who have miraculously overcome the orphan heart. These victories are possible when there is recognition, prayer, and willingness to work at something. The orphan heart can be conquered, even though it is often a process.
Jesus said, “I will not leave you as orphans,” (John 14:18) and the desire and the ministry of the Holy Spirit is to work in you, and in your people, to bring them to a place of security, where they can give the heart without fear. God’s blessing is in this.
There is much more information on this topic available in “The Spirit of Sonship” by John Alley, and also in other books by authors such as Jack Frost.