Spiritual ruts are 1000% real. If you’ve been a Christian for even fa few months you’ve felt this.
The desire to get up and be in God’s Word, the passion for prayer, the excitement for worship, all gone. In its place has crept perhaps the worst emotion of all. Apathy.
First remember who you faith is all about. Jesus. It’s about his performance NOT yours.
God sees you the same way I see my 18 month old son trying to walk. Excited when he gets five steps in a row, not mad when he falls. There is a massive difference in a theology that sees God primarily as a father and one that sees God primarily as your cosmic critic.
Also, instead of assuming that your spiritual rut is 100% due to spiritual warfare, your inability to “be a good Christian”, a lack of work ethic, etc. Do this instead. Rest in the grace of Jesus and take some practical “not-so-spiritual” steps to see if they don’t get you out of your spiritual rut.
Our bodies and our souls are not separate things. You are not a soul who happens to have a body. You are an embodied soul. Big difference. It’s why Jesus was physically resurrected. Our bodies and brains matter to our spirituality. Our psychology has a direct impact on our relationship with God. Fail to see this and you’ll miss a massive part of the ways God will grow your faith and walk with him.
Below are a few practical, “Non-spiritual” steps you can take to get out of a spiritually apathetic rut.
Getting a vigorous workout in is a super easy way to automatically transform and regulate your mood. Don’t workout for vanity sake. Do it for the sake of momentum. When you’re in a rut spiritually, you tend to be very down on yourself and the world in general. Working out and taking care of your physical body can help transform the way you see the world and your relationship with God. A good workout releases endorphins into your body which tend to give you positive emotions and confidence. It’s like getting a jolt of positive momentum every day. Over time that momentum could add up to help you break out of the rut you find yourself in.
Show me what you’re eating and I can probably tell you why you’re feeling down. I don’t know a lot of people who exercise daily and eat healthy who get stuck in ruts for too long. Eat tons of heavy carbs, fried foods, and drink a lot of alcohol (cough, cough even you Pastor) and you are killing your ability to live a healthy life physically and spiritually. A friend of mine had this great saying. Drinking alcohol is borrowing happiness from tomorrow for today. The same is true of food that tastes great but is terrible for you. Sure that meal of loaded fries and deep fried wings tastes great today. But if your tomorrow is still stuck in a rut you’ll know why.
Sometimes taking a nap is the most spiritual thing you can do. Many of us where our stress and busyness as a badge of honor instead of as the Scarlet Letter that it is. God doesn’t love you more because you work sixty hour weeks. You aren’t going to break through by breaking yourself in the process. In reality you probably need to slow down. Take a break or maybe even a sabbatical. If you’re lacking sleep there is a good chance your relationship with God will take a nosedive. Go take a nap already. Or at least don’t feel bad about going to bed at 8:00.
I’m always shocked at how many pastors feel overwhelmed and exhausted yet the answer for why always seems to be the church. Here’s the truth. People in every field of work get exhausted not just pastors. The main reason? They have terrible habits and no routine. News flash. If you start your day staring at a screen as you consume garbage information and eat a Cinnabon, it doesn’t matter how your quiet time goes. You’re going to have a terrible day. Your spiritual momentum just got crushed under the weight of your TV and News Feed. Start your day with some time with God then follow it up with something positive (like exercise). Also try to avoid checking that email until you absolutely have to. It’s best not to start your day automatically putting out fires. It’s almost impossible to break out of a rut if everyday starts by digging it deeper.
This is one is huge for most pastors. Many pastors feel like they have no one who actually knows them deeply. No one they can just be themselves with. Without deep community it’s easy to feel isolated and to allow sin to grow. Without community you get into a rut and have no one around to help you out of it. In reality, you don’t have anyone you even trust enough to say “I need help!” without the fear of judgement. It may not seem super-spiritual but deep, candid relationships are one of God’s greatest gifts to humanity. They draw us closer to who God created us to be in Him. God is by his very nature three and also one. Community is the human manifestation of God’s nature. If you find yourself in a rut, grab a friend or two to help you out of it.