What to Do if You’ve Become Hardened in Ministry

Last week, I published a post on “10 Signs You’re Getting Hardened in Ministry.” In response, readers asked my thoughts on what to do if they saw themselves in that list. Here are some of my suggestions if you want to soften your heart again toward ministry.

  1. Go back to your calling. For many of us, our calling was clear and undeniable. It was the tug of the God of eternity upon us—that is, upon always sinful, often struggling people—to do His work. The gift of remembering and renewing that calling should soften us.
  2. Talk to somebody. Ask God to direct you to someone with whom you can share your burden. Stop carrying the weight by yourself. 
  3. Start looking for glimpses of the good. I’ve never been in a church where there was NO evidence of God’s work. Start looking harder to see where God is working in your church. Don’t let the negative overshadow it.
  4. Begin praying again for your ministry, and for the ministries of others. Not only will that place your ministry at God’s feet, but it will also reduce any jealousy of others. Praying for someone else to succeed breaks the bondage of envy.
  5. Get away from your office, and tell somebody about Jesus. I realize that solution sounds far too simple, but something happens in our heart when we start talking about Jesus. Our joy begins to come back.
  6. In your quiet time, read 1 Corinthians 1:4-9 and 1 Corinthians 16:24. The Corinthians were a messy congregation, but Paul said clearly that he thanked God for them and that he loved them. Ask God to give you for your church the heart that Paul had.
  7. Focus on something you love to do in ministry. Whatever you enjoy most, do it. If it’s preaching, keep on preaching. Compose a sermon for a Christian journal. Write a blog on preaching. Start a preaching class for young people in your church. Enjoy yourself. . . .
  8. Find one faithful person in your church, and invest in that person. I’ve learned that you can tolerate a lot of garbage if you’re seeing transformation in only one life.
  9. Commit yourself to thinking like Philippians 4:8 expects. Push away from negative thoughts. Think on those things that are true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, and commendable.
  10. Thank God for the opportunity to serve Him. Ministry’s tough, but it’s still a gift. Plus, we’re to give thanks in all circumstances (1 Thess. 5:18).

What has worked for you to soften a hardened heart? Let us hear from your victories. 


  • Mark says:

    Go socialize and not just with the ruling class in the congregation. Learn what is going on with the other groups of people. You might be surprised at what they tell you.Take questions and answer them. Try to persuade your leadership to do the same thing.

  • Sam Hailton says:

    What helps me is the promise from the Word that LOVE COVERS A MULTITUDE OF SINS. When I look into the mirror of my soul, it is very ease to humble myself under the mighty hand of God. And after 45 plus years as a mostly small congregation pastor in five states: Ohio, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi and now Michigan, I am MORE excited than ever about the future and my little part in it!

  • Scott says:

    Thank you for posting this Dr. Lawless. Your post on “hardened in Ministry” left me feeling somewhat in despair. I saw myself in way to many points. Thank you for giving me practical ways to to soften my heart again about ministry. Your life and ministry has always challenged me and inspired me. May God continue to bless you and use you for His glory!

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