Book Review: Didn’t See It Coming by Carey Nieuwhof

Every time we add someone to our team, I share this warning with them: “Ministry can be hazardous to your spiritual health.” After they give me a quizzical look, I explain to them that people often begin serving in a high capacity at a church with the expectation that other people will act a certain way because they’re dealing with a church. Instead, many times, you get to see the dark underbelly of people that you might not want to see. People don’t always act Christ-like when calling or emailing. Even when interacting with others in ministry, you find that they have good days and bad days. They are, after all, only human. Remember, nobody wants to know how the hot dogs are made. I write all that to say, I’ve seen many passionate people take steps into ministry believing they are going to make a big difference, only to see them months or years later simply going through motions of ministry or worse, sidelined by the all-too-common challenges of leadership. It seems in some ways that the challenges facing us are even greater today than ever before.

Thankfully, there is a new book that will help us address these pervasive challenges of our current time. In his powerful new book, Didn’t See It Coming: Overcoming the 7 Greatest Challenges That No One Expects and Everyone Experiences, Pastor Carey Nieuwhof deals with the tests and trials of cynicism, compromise, disconnection, irrelevance, pride, burnout, and emptiness. Notably, he does so with a large dose of transparency and authority from one who has personally battled each of these enemies.

Of course, you don’t have to serve in a church to experience these challenges, and Carey addresses them in such a way that anyone, whether a believer or not, will relate and benefit. But for those of us in the same sphere as Carey, this book is a godsend. Once I started the book, I immediately began recommending it wholeheartedly to almost everyone I encountered.

The reason I found myself so engaged in this book is that I could see how each of these issues hits home in my own life. While some of them affect me more than others, I realize that no one is immune to the dangers of these challenges. Be warned, this book will get to the heart of the issues that you face as well, and you may have to do your own soul-searching and even make some changes as a result of the many practical applications offered here.

Perhaps you haven’t encountered these problems so far in your journey. Even better to pick up this book now as a preemptive strike against any future attacks. I hope you will find, as I did, a well-organized and smartly written book that is sure to encourage you and bring much-needed help to those of us who will surely continue to face the universal challenges of leadership. I hope it will help many more people go the distance as they serve to make a difference.

Cole Phillips

I'm a Connector, linking people with God and with others to experience the kind of life God has planned for them. I am the founding and Lead Pastor of THE CONNECTION CHURCH in Buda, Texas. I previously served in churches around the state as youth pastor and as pastor before moving to Kyle in the Spring of 2004. I love to lead people to connect with God and those around them and thrive on changed lives. I earned a doctorate in missions and evangelism with an emphasis on church growth. My heart beats for helping people connect with God and connect with others in an authentic community of faith. I love listening to and making music. I also enjoy hanging out with my family. Pam and I have been married since 1991 and we have two daughters, Makenzie and Bethanie. We are planting our lives in Hays County and allowing God to build a great church through us.