Carey Nieuwhof, a former lawyer and founding pastor of Connexus Church in Barrie, Ontario, wrote Didn’t See It Coming: Overcoming the 7 Greatest Challenges That No One Experiences in 2018. First, Pastor Nieuwhof observes that the seven greatest challenges happens every day to people we know – and that includes us. Usually, though, we’re completely unaware of these challenges, so our implosions often come as a surprise. Because most people miss the warning signs. However, if you recognize and heed those warning signs, they serve as God’s gift. For through this action God spares you from self-inflicted sadness and heartbreak. Most noteworthy, none of the seven signs – cynicism, compromise, disconnection, irrelevance, pride, burnout, emptiness – need write your final story.
The first challenge, cynicism, begins because you do care. Hence, Carey notes, most cynics started out as optimists. Yet, as hurt and fear form calluses around your heart, wariness makes you weary. Also, guardedness and suspicion evolve into anger and bitterness. Therefore, hope, the foundation of the Christian faith, provides the antidote for cynicism. And hope is based on Jesus Christ, not emotion or feeling. But, Pastor Nieuwhof states, the daily compromises we make create a gap between who we are and who we want to be. While competency leaves the first impression, character leaves a lasting impression. As a result, Carey exhorts, keep honing your heart and nurturing your soul. As Jesus reshapes your heart from the inside out, your love flows more deeply.
Furthermore, although solitude is a gift from God, isolation serves as a tool of Satan. In addition, the author asserts, the lack of confession results from disconnection from God, one another, and even from ourselves. With confession as the conduit to connection, however, you stop blaming others and take responsibility for your own actions. so, you either choose to make excuses or to make progress. But you can’t make both. And to make progress, you must stave off irrelevance with change. This isn’t soul-level change. Rather, it means to understand the culture well-enough to speak into it. Whether his change is externally imposed or internally driven, adapt your methods to best support your mission.
One must exercise caution with the next challenge, pride. Pride spawns, morphs, and creeps in using methods we often fail to notice. Unchecked and unaddressed, pride leads to a hardened heart and leaves you isolated. Thus, to tame the raging beast of pride, practice humility. Acknowledge everything you possess as a gift from God. Next, level with yourself and with God. If you fail to level, burnout may result. Burnout messes with your thinking. It’s arena is your thought life. Unless you include Jesus in the cure, Carey assets, you leave out much potential healing. Do healthy things to nourish your soul – pray, read the Bible, love deeply. God wants to bring healing. Let Him go as deep as He wants to go.
In conclusion, Pastor Nieuwhof finds it ironic that we experience emptiness more intensely in success than in failure. And in our attempts to self-medicate, we only crave more. While self-care helps put a stop to this, we must find a mission that’s greater than ourselves. We must die to self. So that we can’t say we didn’t see it coming, Carey encourages us to couple self-awareness with a close walk with God.