Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview

Didn’t See It Coming: Overcoming the Seven Greatest Challenges That No One Expects and Everyone Experiences by Carey Nieuwhof

Didn’t See It Coming: Overcoming the Seven Greatest Challenges That No One Expects and Everyone Experiences by Carey Nieuwhof. WaterBrook. 203 pages. 2018

Pastor and author Carey Nieuwhof writes that this book is for people who want to see the signs that there’s a major life challenge ahead before it’s too late. The signs he looks at exist for all of us, no matter what stage of the journey we might be on. He tells us that none of these – cynicism, compromise, disconnection, irrelevance, pride, burnout, emptiness— need to be our final story, but we can see them coming. He tells us that if we regularly do what we were created to do, the likelihood of growing cynical, disconnected, proud, or irrelevant diminishes.
I enjoyed this book and highlighted a number of passages. Below are a few from each sign that I found particularly helpful.


  • Cynicism begins not because you don’t care but because you do care. It starts because you poured your heart into something and got little in return. Or maybe you got something in return, but it was the opposite of what you desired.
  • With age and experience, you become skilled at seeing patterns. You start to do what cynics do by instinct: you project past failures onto new situations.
  • Perhaps most disturbingly, cynicism begins to infect your relationship with God. When you close your heart to people, you close your heart to God.
  • Cynicism is actually a choice. Cynics aren’t born; they’re made. Life doesn’t make you a cynic; you make you a cynic.
  • Of all people on earth, Christians should be the least cynical. After all, the gospel gives us the greatest reasons to hope.
  • Curious people are never cynical, and cynical people are never curious.
  • Cultivate curiosity long enough, and hope will flourish. And when hope flourishes, cynicism doesn’t stand a chance.


  • The subtle compromises we make day after day—the half-truths, the rationalizations, the excuses—create a gap between who we are and who we want to be.
  • All the competency in the world can’t compensate for a lack of character. Ultimately, your character is your lid.
  • Lack of character kills careers, shatters families, ruins friendships, and destroys influence.
  • Your competency leaves the first impression, but your character leaves the lasting one.
  • If you don’t nurture your character daily, you can be most admired by the people who know you least, while the people who know you best struggle with you the most.
  • We judge ourselves by our intentions and other people by their actions.
  • Character development is far more painful than skill development.
  • The antidote to compromise is simply this: work twice as hard on your character as you do on your competency.
  • If you change everything in your life except your character, you still won’t be the kind of person you want to be.
  • If you simply make your talk match your walk, the gap between who you are and who you want to be becomes smaller almost instantly.
  • It’s our character that determines how we’ll be remembered. More important, it’s our character that God is most interested in.


  • As a culture, the more connected we’ve become, the more isolated we’ve grown.
  • Technology does a good job of revealing what’s already inside you.
  • Beyond the death of genuine conversation, there’s an even deeper loss happening: confession seems to be disappearing.
  • Confession and progress are inexorably linked. You won’t address what you don’t confess.
  • The challenge is not to resist change but to learn how to thrive in the midst of it.
  • When are you going to stop focusing on what you can’t control and instead start focusing on what you can control?
  • You can make excuses or you can make progress, but you can’t make both.
  • I have discovered that a hurried life leads to an unexamined and disconnected life.


  • The gap between how quickly you change and how quickly things change is called irrelevance. The bigger the gap, the more irrelevant you become.
  • The fastest path to irrelevance is this: stop changing.
  • Change is the only thing that bridges the gap between who you are and who you need to be.
  • Change is painful. And that’s why the vast majority of us resist it.
  • Irrelevance causes us to lose the ability to speak into a culture.
  • The greatest enemy of your future success is always your current success.
  • When true transformation occurs, the person embraces the future more than the past.
  • The change you don’t implement often becomes something none of us wants—regret.


  • Unaddressed, pride will destroy many of the things you care about or know you should care about.
  • Pride sneaks in even among the insecure and drives a wedge between who we think we are and who God thinks we are.
  • One sure sign of insecurity is that your opinion of yourself rises and falls with how you perform or what others say about you. Your identity should be more secure than your latest results, but for many of us, it’s not.
  • Proud people always feel a need to be the most talented or skilled. As a result, the number of gifted people around them is much lower than it is around people who are secure and less obsessed with themselves.
  • One sign of humble people is the ability to attract and keep people more gifted and competent than themselves for the sake of their team or cause.
  • When you value the counsel and input of others, especially on the things you’re best at, you embark on a path toward greater wisdom.
  • Left unchecked and unaddressed, pride leads to a hardened heart.
  • Nothing kills pride like humility does. Only humility can get you out of what pride got you into.
  • Gratitude fosters humility because it moves you out of the role of the star in your story.
  • Unchecked, pride will blind you. You’ll stop learning from anyone you deem to be beneath you or equal to you.


  • Life can be a series of ungrieved losses.
  • Taking the time to grieve your losses is one of the healthiest things you can do.
  • Live in a way today that will help you thrive tomorrow.


  • Workaholism is the most rewarded addiction in America today.
  • If you want to beat emptiness, find a mission that’s bigger than you. As long as you keep making your life all about you, you’ll experience one round of emptiness after another.
  • Ask yourself this question: Which kingdom am I living for? Left unchecked, I will always live for the Kingdom of Me.
  • The only thing more terrifying than dying to yourself is living for yourself.
  • I encourage you to put Christ at the center of your mission.
  • The emptiness inside you will go away only when you decide to stop making life all about you. You need a mission bigger than you.