I remember being told in Bible college that a life of ministry would require a tough skin and a tender heart. It’s pretty applicable for all of life, actually. I have heard it said that, as we age, we become more of what we already are. The kind person becomes kinder, the wise person becomes wiser. The cranky person becomes crankier, and the hardened heart becomes harder. Without the hope of Jesus who changes hearts, I can see how this is true.
When I think of tough and tender, I’m reminded of a good medium rare steak. To get a good crust on a steak, high heat is required. I have found that those times of high heat in my life, the really challenging circumstances and seasons have actually softened me inside. There are times when I respond wrong, and that grief over my sun and repentance that follows softens my heart toward other sinners. It has kept me humble and reminded me that there is always more to the story than what we can see. I also find compassion for others experiencing similar circumstances. My brokenness has given me deep compassion for others who are broken as well.
The toughness comes when I see what God has brought me through. That thing I didn’t think I would survive? I survived it. I’m still standing, and by His grace, I will survive the current one as well. I’m still not as tough as I want to be. I don’t want to be hurt by the little things, I want to find my identity in Him and not in the opinions of others. I am still working on these things. I have not yet arrived, but I press on.
Do you let the circumstances of life soften you inside? Are you growing more compassionate and caring toward others? Do you seek to know God and walk in Him so that you have a tough skin toward things that would seek to harm you or distract you from your focus? Today I am praying that you will seek both the toughness and the tenderness we need as followers of Jesus.
“…that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.”
Philippians 3:10-12 ESV