It happens to most of us. Ministry gets really hard, and we get wounded. Our wounds then become scars, on which other scars later develop. If we’re not alert and self-aware, our heart gets hardened. Be aware of these signs of increasing hardening in your life:
1. You want to spend less time with your church members.
You used to enjoy their company, but not as much anymore.
2. You start looking for the negative in most situations.
You assume that a problem waits behind every door, so you go looking for it.
3. You don’t trust people like you used to.
You got burned one too many times, so now you don’t take that risk.
4. You don’t grieve over nonbelievers anymore.
Likely, your world has become more about protecting yourself from the wolves in the church than about getting the gospel to the lost.
5. You don’t think much about a “God-sized vision” for your church.
That kind of vision requires trusting him, believing in his people and planning a long stay in the church—all things that a hardened pastor struggles to do.
6. You assume that your church won’t grow.
You give up hope when a hardened heart no longer believes God will use your church to reach people.
7. You find yourself getting jealous over others’ ministry successes.
Jealousy is the sign of a frightened and hardened heart, not a soft, godly one.
8. You don’t forgive people like you formerly did.
You used to be gracious and long-suffering toward sinners, but no longer; now, you get frustrated and even bitter when others sin.
9. You hide your sin and do not turn from it.
That’s always a good sign of a hardened heart.
10. You start wondering about nonministry jobs.
“It’ll all be easier if I just get out of ministry,” you think. Your calling loses its significance in light of present struggles.
11. You get short-tempered with your family.
Your increasing frustration has to come out somewhere, and your family bears that brunt.
12. You find no joy in anything you do.
No matter what you’re doing, nothing brings you excitement and joy. Hardened hearts don’t leap anymore.
Do you see any of these characteristics in your life? How might we pray for you?
Chuck Lawless is dean and vice president of graduate studies and ministry centers at Southeastern Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina, and global theological education consultant for the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention. This article was originally published on ChuckLawless.com.