Are You Stuck? Seven Sticking Points

We all get stuck at one time or another in life. As you look back over your own story you will undoubtedly remember times of being frustratingly stuck. Maybe you are in one of those seasons right now. Typically it is not one event that ends up getting you stuck; it’s a series of events—and your response to those events—that leads to our stagnation. I have seen many vibrant, gifted people unexpectedly end up stalled on the side of the road. They are scratching their heads and wondering what in the world happened to them. Often they linger so long in that spiritual traffic jam that their soul drains, their dreams evaporate, and their spiritual health shrivels in the toxic environment of stagnation.


Common to almost every person’s journey to “stuck” are at least a few of the seven sticking points that drove Elijah to his cave in 1 Kings 19. He had to confront each of them in order to step out of his cave. These seven sticking points are traps that send millions into frustrating dead-end living. Not every person gets stuck on all seven points but most of us struggle with some combination of them.


Social Isolation and the lack of meaningful relationships is a major sticking point. Solitude is a great spiritual discipline, but isolation is an emotionally lethal condition that many of us struggle with. Isolation is unhealthy in virtually any season and context of life. The inability to make meaningful relational connections that lead to healthy community is a major issue in our current society. Isolated people are stuck people.

Distorted thinking is like a bad recording that plays over and over in our heads convincing us of a false reality. Eventually that distorted message shapes and defines the way we see ourselves and our world. Those messages in our head repeat lies about our identity and destiny. If our thoughts are not being shaped by truth, then they will soon be shaped by whatever message rings loudest and is repeated most often. Self deceptive thinking eventually leads any person to the dark cave of stuck.

The third sticking point is impaired hearing. Many of us have so much “white noise” in our life we struggle to hear the clear voice of God. Webster’s dictionary defines white noise as a constant background noise, one that drowns out other sounds. It is virtually impossible to hear the gentle whisper of God while engaged in fear-filled, anxious, insecure self-pitying conversations that rumble loudly in our thinking.

The mental picture we carry of ourselves defines how we interact with our world. The battle for personal identity rages from kindergarten playgrounds to the offices in corporate America. How you see yourself and who you think you are will affect your life as deeply as any thought you have. Warped identity will hinder you from moving forward in your call.

The fifth sticking point is neglected issues or unfinished business. These are issues that we have avoided in the past, and they become one of the greatest causes of living stuck. We all tend to avoid painful issues. Unfortunately, avoiding our issues postpones the immediate pain but actually increases our long-term problems exponentially. The more we run from our issues, the more they control our destiny and hold us back.

Coming to terms with what we are called to do and what we need to let go of is essential to remaining unstuck. Releasing those things that we were never meant to carry frees up internal energy and resources to tackle our main calling. Taking on more than we are called to do speaks to our need for control as much as taking on too little speaks to our fear of failure. Many well-intentioned people throw themselves into their task, only to come to a gradual halt as they get stuck. An undefined calling
without clear boundaries is unsustainable and eventually leads to a breakdown.

The final sticking point is deferred beginnings. The time comes when a person needs to say goodbye to the safety of the cave and launch into the risky world of faith living. All of us come to a point where we know we must take the next step forward or remain stuck. This is a scary moment, the instant we release our grip and choose to trust our heavenly Father. Many know what they need to do but get stuck at the edge of the cave continually postponing their first step out.

For each of the seven sticking points there is a step that must be taken to move forward. Understanding what gets us stuck is only the beginning, But identifying your sticking point will help clarify what area you need to focus on. Being willing to work through the process of getting unstuck is what separates those who remain trapped and those who move successfully to their next season.

Are you ready to get unstuck? Take the quiz to find out where you are stuck.