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Dead Hearts, Leadership Struggles and How to Break Free

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?

At different points over the years, I’ve felt my heart become hard.

I stop feeling what I should feel. I stop caring the way I should care. I stop experiencing the highs and lows the way I should.

In this post, I outlined the early warning signs of a hard heart (as well as four reasons why a person’s heart grows hard).

That’s not a great way to live. And it’s not the way you were designed to live.

So if you find yourself with a flattened or faltering heart, what do you do to get it back?

Here are five ways I have learned to bring new life to a heart that’s grown hard:

1. Push past your feelings.

Sure, there are seasons where what’s supposed to be meaningful feels mechanical. Do it anyway.

Go to work. Kiss your spouse. Hang out with your kids. Read your bible. Pray (even if you feel you’re talking to the ceiling). Just because you don’t feel like it’s real doesn’t mean it isn’t real. Eventually, your emotions will catch up to your obedience.

2. Get some rest.

Fatigue and overwork can combine to numb your heart. Sometimes I find my heart grows hard because I’m not resting.

Get eight hours sleep for a week. Take a day off and do something you love—like going on a hike, exploring a city or reading a great book. Even God took a Sabbath. If you don’t take the Sabbath, the Sabbath will take you.

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Speaker and podcaster Carey Nieuwhof is a former lawyer and founding pastor of Connexus Church, one of the largest and most influential churches in Canada. With over 6 million downloads, The Carey Nieuwhof Leadership Podcast features today's top leaders and cultural influencers. His most recent book is “Didn’t See It Coming: Overcoming the 7 Greatest Challenges That No One Expects and Everyone Experiences.” Carey and his wife, Toni, reside near Barrie, Ontario and have two children.