Posts Tagged ‘hard heart’


*No, this title is not a country song.


(This post can also be read on our new site: http://www.belovedblogger.com)

You would never have guessed that our internal plumbing could help alert us to our home’s plumbing. But nature called at 2 a.m. and if it had not been for that potty break, we would have never discovered that the bathroom pipes were frozen.

My groggy mind questions, “Why did the pipes freeze?” Preliminary answer: It’s below zero outside. Duh. Follow up question: “Why don’t all pipes freeze in every house?” Answer: My home has this one spot that makes it susceptible to extreme temperatures.

Bring out the blow dryers and the portable heaters. I get a couple of faucets going after directing my friendly Vidal Sassoon at the vulnerable flex pipes. The third floor doesn’t relent as easily. Did our house guests really leave the window wide open on the coldest day of the year?

I grab my flashlight, begin crawling behind the knee walls while searching my memory as to where these pipes are running so I can get some heat to them. No luck. They are buried in some wall or between floors. They can scope the human body with all sorts of devices. Does anyone know of a patent on micro-cameras for frozen-pipes?

Almost stuck in the crawl space, I begin to think about my frigid heart of late. I start wondering how it got so cold. It’s just like these pipes. I have to start tracing everything back to the design of my spiritual house. Where am I vulnerable to the chill of this world? Answer: Relationships. I love people. When people hurt me, it feels like ice is running through my heart. I can’t think. I can’t feel. I can’t figure them out. I can’t flow with love.

I know the dangers of frozen pipes. If they break, water can start running behind walls and that can do a house in. But the risk of a cold heart is far more sublime: “Work at getting along with each other and with God. Otherwise you’ll never get so much as a glimpse of God. Make sure no one gets left out of God’s generosity. Keep a sharp eye out for weeds of bitter discontent. A thistle or two gone to seed can ruin a whole garden in no time.” Hebrews 12:14-17

Yawning, I guess I should consider this a gracious wake-up call.


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Like a physician who sees illness or tragedy every day, you develop a way of dealing with the pain. And some of that’s healthy. But if I don’t monitor things carefully, I can move into full seasons where I don’t feel much of anything at all. My heart can grow hard.

What are some early warning signs of a hard heart?

1. You don’t really celebrate and you don’t really cry. Well, you might on the outside, but in reality you don’t feel it.

2. You stop genuinely caring. Enough said.

3. So much of what’s supposed to be meaningful feels mechanical. From your personal friendships to your family to work, the feeling’s gone.

4. Passion is hard to come by. For anything.

5. You no longer believe the best about people. Even when you meet someone, you’re thinking about what’s going to go wrong, not what’s going to go right.

How does it happen? Here are a few ways:

You focus on patterns, not people. In my first few years in ministry, all I saw were people. Then I realized people behaved certain ways. Actually, people behave in certain predictable ways. Unchecked, that can lead to cynicism when you realize the people who say they want to change (and at first you believe them), don’t change. When I become fixated on the patterns, not the people beneath them, my heart grows hard. Patterns are discouraging. People aren’t.

You over-protect a broken heart. People promise and don’t deliver. Your hopes were bigger than what happened. You trusted someone and your trust was misplaced. Really, that’s just life. It happens to everyone. But how you respond is so critical. It’s easy to shield yourself from people. It’s easy to stop trusting, stop loving, stop believing. But that would be a mistake. It kills your heart.

You stop looking for what’s good in people and situations. Because life has its disappointments, and people are still people even after they become Christians (it’s amazing how that happens), it’s easy to focus on personal and organization shortcomings. If you keep that up, it can be all you focus on. Keep looking for flickers of light. Your job as a leader is to spot the hope in any situation anyway, to find a way when it looks like there’s no way. So keep looking.

You accept a harder heart as a new normal. A hardened heart isn’t inevitable, but it does take intentional effort to guard against one. When you feel your heart becoming hard, you need to take action and fight against it.

All that said, I’ve also discovered this: if you work at it, your heart can stay supple. When you pick away at the callous, something wonderful God created still beats underneath. And you enter a new season of life wiser, but very much fully alive.

How’s your heart? Is this something you have to struggle with too?

If you had to pick one thing that hardens your heart, what would it be?


– See more at: http://careynieuwhof.com/2012/11/the-early-warning-signs-of-a-hard-heart/#sthash.8P2GFa6M.dpuf


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