5 Ways to Climb Out of a Spiritual Rut

“You’re in a spiritual rut. Your inspiration’s gone. And you’re not sure why. Here are some practical steps that have helped me.”

So, you’re in a spiritual rut. Your inspiration’s gone. And you’re not sure why. Just last week, last month or last year, you were rolling. You were investing in your spouse, being intentional with your kids, finding purpose in your work and feeling close to God.

But right now, the best word to describe your life is “meh.” Everything’s a grind. Your inspiration is gone.

And more times than not, these times are compounded by “Super Christians.” They come in different shapes and sizes. The girl who posts new pictures on Instagram every day of her journal, filled with new insights about how the Lord spoke to her. Or maybe the guy who lives on the mountaintop and sees your apathy as a lack of faith.

Regardless of form, the message is the same: You’re not trying hard enough.

Also regardless of form, my attitude toward them is the same: disgust. The unholy kind. The kind that involves a gut punch and a roundhouse kick, not necessarily in that order.

For the rest of us normal Christians, how do we respond when inspiration is low? Ups and downs are inevitable. I won’t pretend to offer you a “7 Steps to Get Out of That Rut or Your Money Back” guarantee. I also won’t pretend to trivialize something that might be more serious than a lack of inspiration—clinically diagnosed depression and anxiety, for example—by offering a quick fix.

The church has minimized serious mental conditions for years, much to the peril of many Christians. To those mired in such a battle, I want to affirm you and encourage you to find help, in the form of counseling or medication or a combination of both.

Here’s what I will do: give you some practical steps that have helped me. You might find one or all of them helpful. Use what works. Throw out the rest. Here we go.

1. Disrupt your routine.

Routines are fine. On some level, we all need them. I discovered what disorder can do to a man while in India. Thirty days we trod India’s dusty terrain, every day a new adventure. The final few days, I was done. Exhausted and homesick, I was one awkward stare from giving an Indian a piece of my mind. And not the holy piece.

For most of us, however, routines can easily throw us into autopilot. And what we need is something new.

If you work from home, pack up your junk and try a local coffee shop. If you spend time with God in the morn, try a different time of day. Attend a conference in your respective field. I went to Thrive Conference recently. Changing my schedule and hearing inspiring voices was a holy kick in the pants.

[Ten keys to a spiritual breakthrough]

Mark Batterson says, “Change of pace plus change of space equals change of perspective.” I love that quote. You should apply it.

2. Keep showing up.

Sometimes, what we call a spiritual rut or absence of inspiration is really resistance. Resistance is an invisible (but very real) force whose only goal is to destroy your destiny.

Resistance wants to destroy your destiny. To combat it, keep showing up.

The only effective response to this force is to keep showing up. You don’t feel like being intimate with your spouse or a listening ear for your kids? You don’t feel like opening Scripture, attending small group or being present at work? Show up anyway. Who knows? Inspiration might meet you there.

3. Recognize the difference between resistance and burnout.

If you’re not self-aware, you could mistake a spiritual rut or lack of inspiration for emptiness or burnout. This would be a mistake of epic proportions. Continuing to show up when you’re burned out only amplifies the problem.

What’s the difference between resistance and emptiness? There’s no universal answer. But I offer a few warning signs from personal experience. Increased anxiety. Growing pessimism (and at times cynicism). Hopelessness. Desire to withdraw. And listening to hit songs from the 1980s (easily the worst decade in the last century, or ever).

If you’re empty, stop showing up. Recharge. Change your pace. Do something that fills your soul. Then, start showing up.

4. Find “nonspiritual” ways to connect with God.

By this, I mean anything that clears your mind or refreshes your heart.

Some days, few activities are more spiritual than running, golfing or working out. These things recharge my heart and mind. What things do that for you? Fishing’s not for me. I suck at painting. But if these hobbies give you life, they should be a regular part of your rhythm.

Sometimes those things we wouldn’t describe as spiritual end up reframing our perspective and reinvigorating our faith.

5. Laugh.

As a general rule, you take yourself too seriously. I do, too. We’re so concerned about finding our God-given purpose or raising healthy, successful kids or climbing the metaphorical ladder that we forget to have fun. Just look at how sensitive we’ve become as a culture. We’re offended if someone disagrees with us. We’re also offended if they agree with us.

Some of us need to loosen up and start enjoying life. Humor is an effective way to accomplish this. You might not describe laughter as spiritual. But it is. Sometimes it’s the best remedy for inspiration deficiency.

I would love to hear from you. When you’re struggling to find inspiration, what helps you? Leave a comment below.

Frank Powell is lead writer and editor for the blog at Bayside Church in Granite Bay, California. He is also a husband, father and Jesus follower. Occasionally he plays golf. Often he drinks coffee. You can find more of his content at Blog.BaysideOnline.com.