In his book, Why I Am Still Surprised by the Power of the Spirit, Jack Deere describes a poignant moment during a service of healing. An articulate woman who was chronically depressed came forward and asked for prayer. She said, “I finally figured out the true nature of my problems. I lust after the approval of men.”

With permission, the pastor laid his right hand on her shoulder and prayed for her: “Lord, Linda doesn’t feel your affection. Let her feel in her heart how much you love her and like her.”

Those words cut straight to her heart. If she really felt loved by God, the approval of others wouldn’t be nearly so important. That simple prayer broke a hardness deep within. As tears of joy rolled down her cheeks, she received profound healing in her life.

Rich and Famous

We often get confused about what we truly desire. Actor Jim Carrey once said, “I wish everyone could get rich and famous and do everything they ever dreamed of so they can see that’s not the answer.”

Author William Willimon put it this way, “Sometimes the greatest problem facing us is not in getting what we want, but in wanting what is wrong.”

As someone who often struggled with wrong desires, King David offers this counsel, 

Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.  

Psalm 37:4 (NRSV)


I’ll confess. These words plagued me for years. I wasn’t getting the desires of my heart. As a single guy, I wanted to find Miss America and settle down. I wanted to serve a church that would explode with growth, and I wanted an ever-expanding reach to new sites and people groups – all in a New York minute.

Basically, I wanted things my way on my time schedule, and I wasn’t getting anywhere. It felt like God was mocking me with this verse. 

Much later, as the Holy Spirit penetrated a thick wall of denial, I began to realize I wanted those things for the wrong reasons. In some cases, I wanted the wrong things. And even though I couldn’t see it at the time, receiving those ego-driven desires would have destroyed my life.

On the Surface

What do you really want? Money? Fame? Power? To find the perfect mate? Those wants tend to live near the surface of our lives. Could your true desires be something deeper?  

At some point, we all need someone to help us move past superficial and short-lived wants, so we can tap into holy longings deep below. Once there, we discover that God placed those desires in us from the very beginning.

True Desires

Each of us yearns to be loved and liked by the God who created us, to know our purpose in life, and to give ourselves to something that will outlast us. These are the true desires of our heart that are expressed uniquely in each person’s story. Apart from them, nothing else can truly satisfy.

When delight in the Lord, it gives us courage to take a deep dive below the surface. There, to our utter surprise, we will find our deepest desires and God’s desires for us are not opposed but one in the same.

No wonder God wants to give them to us.

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Roger Ross

A native of Cambridge, Illinois, Roger has served as a pastor in Texas, the British Channel Island of Guernsey, and Illinois. While in Illinois, he led teams that planted two new churches and served for 10 years as the lead pastor of one of the largest United Methodist Churches in the Midwest. It was his privilege to serve as the Director of Congregational Excellence in the Missouri Conference before coming into his current role with Spiritual Leadership, Inc (SLI).

Roger now comes alongside pastors, non-profit leaders and their leadership teams as an executive coach, specializing in leadership that inspires change. As a side gig, he loves teaching evangelism and church planting as an adjunct professor at SMU’s Perkins School of Theology in Dallas, Texas.

Other passions of his include SCUBA diving in warm blue water, Krispy Kremes, and board games with family and friends. He also has a weakness for golf.

Roger is the author of three books, Meet The Goodpeople: Wesley’s 7 Ways to Share Faith, Come Back: Returning to the Life You Were Made For, and Come Back Participant Guide, all through Abingdon Press.

Now for the best part. Roger is married to Leanne Klein Ross, and they live Bloomington, Illinois. God has blessed them with two adult children, a son-in-law, several tropical fish, and one adorable granddog.