I read a quote this morning that says, "The most conspicuous way to know when a person is ready to lead others is when he is able to lead himself." It got me thinking. Am I a good leader according to that statement? Do I do a good job at leading myself? Over the past few weeks I've been in a bit of a slump. You know how baseball players get into a hitting slump, and they begin to lose confidence? Well, that can happen to anyone, including preachers. I would venture to say it's probably happened to you. As Christians, we know we have a "living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead" (1 Pe. 1:3). We know we possess a "joy inexpressible and full of glory" (1 Pe. 1:8). But if you're anything like me, you don't always feel that way.
At different seasons in our lives we can all experience a spiritual funk. Why? Well, sometimes it's because we grow careless. We are unguarded. We stop paying attention to the weeds growing in our spiritual garden. You see, sin seldom starts out with evil. It usually begins with inattention. When we're on spiritual autopilot, we think everything is OK, but in reality we begin experiencing "soul drift," and the next thing we know, we've drifted quite a distance from shore. Sometimes our spiritual funk begins due to some external circumstance that we allow to rob our joy. That's right--our joy is only taken from us when we allow circumstances to take control of our hearts and minds. This is why we tell our children that they CHOOSE their attitude. We can't control what goes on around us, but we can control, through the Holy Spirit, what's going on inside of us. And so we pray, "Restore to me the joy of your salvation and sustain me with a willing spirit" (Ps. 51:12).
I recognize in my own life that getting out of a spiritual funk isn't easy. In another blog this week I pointed out there was no miraculous spiritual growth pill. It takes deliberate action, commitment, and dedication to "right the ship" and begin the gradual work of spiritual renewal and growth. I don't have it all figured out, but one of the key elements of leading myself are the daily disciplines of prayer study, and worship, even when (and especially when) I don't feel like it. We all need a daily and weekly rhythm of work, family time, recreation, rest, and spiritual renewal.
I read that the Stanford Medical Center recently reported that our outer layer of skin renews itself every seven days, and every cell in our body is completely renewed every seven years. Isn't it amazing to think that even our physiology is consistent with God's rhythm of creation and the Sabbath? Every seven days we should cease and desist. In the Old Testament, every seventh year all Hebrew slaves were to be set free (Ex. 21:2), all land was to go unplowed and unused (Ex. 23:11; Lev. 25:4), and all debts were to be cancelled (Deut. 15:9). God loves renewal!
So if you're experiencing a spiritual funk right now, there are steps you can take, slowly and deliberately, to renew your spirit, revive your heart, and recalibrate your focus to the joy of your salvation and the sustenance of Christ. "Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day" (2 Cor. 4:16).
Originally published on 02/18/13.