The phrase came into being sometime around 1840 but after the war between the states, it basically disappeared for about 20 years. It reached it’s zenith in the 1920’s. It was the word used of a hunting dog who began to become frightened by the sound of a gunshot. 1884 was the first recorded use of the word for a person and quicklyGun-shy came to simply mean wary. Referring to a person who is overcautious.
Gun-shy: c.f. preacher. A preacher who boldly speaks and gets his hand slapped for mispronouncing a word, who plans a great event but leaves something out of place after the event and is fussed at over it, who publicly praises a person for their good work but overlooks another and is told not to commend people, who works extra-hard on a challenging lesson but preaches 5 minutes too long and is reprimanded for “going over,” who puts in an 80 hour work week trying to be at everything but is scolded cause he hasn’t been to see Sister Smith who is shut-in for over a month, who doesn’t see someone out in town, but they saw him and didn’t speak, so he encores the reputation of snob, a preacher who has become so very cautious that he second-guesses his every decision, action, lesson, and even his own emotions and motives.
It is so easy over time and with experience for a minister to become guy-shy and for him to allow satan to shut him down, to tame our mighty spirits, to steal our big dreams, and to squash our effectiveness. But remember the gun-shy dog has not been shot, it’s the sound that scares him. Remember, the evil one is limited in the harm he can do. And, remember: “The LORD is for me, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me?” (Psalm 118:6). “So we can confidently say, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?’” (Hebrews 13:6).
Be encouraged! He's bigger than the gun! We understand how discouraging it can be, but try to remember the Voice of the Lord is louder than a gun. Listen to Him.