Winston Churchill could see the dark clouds gathering above Germany and drifting across Europe. It was the early 1930s and the future British Prime Minister repeatedly sounded the alarm at the growing German military might under the direction of Adolph Hitler. Churchill was often shouted down and ridiculed for what many considered much ado about nothing. The “British Bulldog” recognized his countrymen were overcome with a “political inertia” that endangered Great Britain’s future. “Spiritual inertia” endangers Christians, and especially pastors and ministry leaders if they don’t remain vigilant. The word inertia means, “lack of movement or continuous movement in a particular direction unless affected by something that alters that direction.” Another way we might define inertia is, “stuck in a rut.”
Spiritual inertia breeds a lack of joy in ministry and life, lack of vision, ineffectiveness as a servant leader, functional depression, and the real possibility of moral failure. Spiritual inertia is the route taken to spiritual apathy (lack of interest, enthusiasm, or concern). I sense both spiritual inertia and spiritual apathy are creeping — and in many cases have crept — into the lives of Christ followers and collectively into our churches. So much so that a hellish darkness is growing in our land like kudzu across a Mississippi gully.
I see us settling into an isolationism from the world at the very moment we should be mobilizing for engagement as Great Commission Christians. Instead of wringing our hands in despair, we should be advancing out into our communities with a resolve to proclaim the gospel. However, we can’t do that if we are spiritually lethargic. If you sense that spiritual inertia and apathy have settled in, here are six ways to spiritually get moving again.
(1) Acknowledge your spiritual dryness. Listen, the only person you may be fooling is yourself; you certainly aren’t fooling your Heavenly Father. No problem improves by being ignored. Confess it and move on. Remember, His desire is for you to flourish spiritually and is patiently waiting to refresh your soul.
(2) Pray and reconnect with God — NOW! When farmers irrigate parched fields they open gates and allow the water to surge down channels and across dry soil. That’s what you need to do even when, especially when, you feel nothing. Let your prayers flood into God’s throne room and watch as He floods your life with His living water.
(3) Don’t wait. Every moment you delay only prolongs the journey along the path of spiritual inertia. Take action and alter that direction. John 7:37 says, “On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, ‘If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink.’ ” So, stop now and drink.
(4) Own it. Yes, being a ministry leader means constantly giving yourself away. Don’t blame the sheep. Your leadership must be directed by the Shepherd’s power, not your personality and polish. Will you allow a ministry wound to destroy you or draw you closer to Christ? No one said it was going to be easy, but God knew what He was calling you to so grab ahold of your calling again and carry on!
(5) Remember other God “times.” The Old Testament writers consistently admonished the people of Israel to “Remember the Lord your God.” Do you remember all the times when God showed up in your life in power and glory? Faith is not blind. Look back, see God’s faithfulness, and ask the Lord to do it again.
(6) Let go. Are you trying to balance everything as a top priority and at a high standard? Someone has said, “Excellence honors God but excellence should never become more important than God.” Ask Him to show you the things that you need to let go of in order to recover spiritual vitality and the ability to do with excellence the truly important things.
Let’s avoid spiritual inertia and apathy all together. Let’s heed the numerous biblical warnings to be “sober minded” and to “stay alert” so that we can detect these soul killers if they do try to lay hold of us. Let’s enthusiastically advance the gospel in our communities for the glory of God.
It is a joy to be on this journey with you.