“Ding-Ding-Ding!” The sound starts the moment I open the car door. Annoyed, I roll my eyes and shake my head. My annoyance does not impede the repetitive dinging. The sound continues until I reach back and turn off the headlights. I do not like the annoying sound of the alarm, but I do appreciate the crucial function of the alarm. Without the dinging reminder, the headlights would suck the power from my car battery. The annoying alarm protects me from more annoying consequences.
The ringing car alarm reminds me of the spiritual alarms the Holy Spirit sends to alert us to potential hazards in our spiritual lives. Just as unattended headlights drain a car battery, unattended spiritual alarms can leave us spiritually sapped. Unfortunately, spiritual alarms are often more difficult to detect than the “Ding-Ding-Ding” of the car alarm. We must learn to identify these alarms and listen to their warnings.
How does the Holy Spirit alert you of impending emptiness?
Here are a few indicators of spiritual emptiness I have identified in my life:
- Impatience – Snapping at people like the title characters of the Hungry-Hippos game. (Sadly, the people closest to us often catch the brunt of our impatience.)
- Anger – Frustration and anger level rising unexpectedly and minor issues sparking Hulk-like rage.
- Bitterness – Harboring resentment toward co-laborers in ministry.
- Hectic Pace – Life starts to feel like someone cranked the treadmill to top speed (and incline).
- Dry Ministry – Going through the motions of ministry.
- Unfulfilling devotions – Reading the page but missing the Word.
- Sloppy service – Constantly feeling satisfied with “good enough.”
How does the Holy Spirit alert you of impending emptiness? I have posed this question to students and conference participants over the years. Here are a couple of responses they have provided:
- Clutter – One lady indicated that her cluttered house often revealed internal spiritual clutter.
- Unhealthy Escapes – Students described that a disproportionate dependence on streaming movies, video games, and other forms of escape disclosed potential spiritual deficiencies.
Take a few moments to think about the indicators in your life. How does the Holy Spirit alert you of impending emptiness and how do you react when you hear the alert?
Don’t ignore the warnings!
To learn more about Kris Barnett or to see his other articles, check his author page.
Kristopher Barnett is a graduate of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary with a Master of Divinity in Biblical Languages (2001) and a Ph.D. in theology with a concentration in preaching (2008). His dissertation was A Historical/Critical Analysis of Dialogical Preaching. His undergrad work was completed at Angelo State University in San Angelo, Texas with a B.A. in Communication (1997).
Prior to joining the Christian studies faculty at Anderson University, Dr. Barnett served as pastor to three different churches; Forestburg Baptist Church (TX), Ridglea West Baptist Church (TX) and most recently, East Pickens Baptist Church (SC). Prior to pastoral ministry, he served as youth minister at two churches and did a youth internship at another.
Kris Barnett is the author of What Now?, a companion guide to the Bible. He is a member of the Evangelical Homiletic Society and has twice presented papers at the EHS conference (Wake Forest, NC and Birmingham, AL). Dr. Barnett enjoys filling the pulpit for local churches and serving in an interim role for churches seeking a pastor.
Dr. Barnett is married to Kelly, who is a graduate of ASU with a Bachelor of Science and Master of Science in psychology. They have four children, Kenzie, Karsen, Noah, and Kassie.