I may not know you personally, but I’m guessing you’d like to have a close, energizing relationship with God. The kind of relationship that helps you feel confident today and hopeful for the future. What do you think? Did I guess right?
Just about every follower of Jesus wants a dynamic faith—but spiritual apathy can creep in and try to steal our desire to keep pursuing God.
The Problem With Spiritual Apathy
God wants you to live an inspired life. In other words, God wants you to be spiritually energized as you pursue the calling He has placed on your life. And yet we all go through seasons of feeling the opposite.
Apathy rarely appears overnight. Instead, it’s usually a slow process that leads to feeling distant from God and unconcerned with pursuing Him. We can feel spiritual apathy when we want to pray consistently, but struggle to stay focused. Or we kind of want to read the Bible, but we lack enough motivation to actually do it. Or maybe we want to do the work of God, like serving others, but we just can’t seem to get started.
Spiritual apathy can happen to anyone—but there are ways we can avoid it. So if you’d like to energize your faith and take steps to feel closer to God, keep reading.
What Is Spiritual Apathy?
What’s something you don’t care about but your friends care about a lot? Maybe it’s a movie franchise like Star Wars or Marvel. Or an artist like Taylor Swift. Or a trend that’s all over social media, but you aren’t interested.
You could say you’re apathetic about that thing. You don’t care, so you’re not motivated to watch, listen, or engage with those interests.
Apathy isn’t always a bad thing. There are lots of things we don’t care about that we don’t need to care about. But spiritual apathy is different. Spiritual apathy happens when we lack the motivation to grow closer to God and to do His work.
Apathy Can Cause Anxiety
Everyone knows what it’s like to have a device that’s low on battery, or a vehicle that’s low on fuel. It makes us feel a little anxious, and we start looking for opportunities to recharge or refuel.
Feeling spiritually apathetic can work the same way. Apathy can cause anxiety because we know we’re supposed to care deeply about God, but for whatever reason, we don’t care as much as we think we should. So we can end up feeling like our “spiritual battery” is running low—low on motivation, low on passion, and low on closeness with God.
Give Yourself Grace
God wants us to have a close relationship with Him that leads us to meaningful, positive action. But He also offers us grace in the process of getting there (again). He knows we live in a broken world, and we’ll always have obstacles to overcome as we pursue Him. Thankfully, He’s present and ready to help as we search, fumble, and fail.
God isn’t waiting to judge our spiritual apathy. Instead, He’s inviting us to continue seeking Him. So let’s sidestep any feelings of guilt and failure about apathy, which just further drain our motivation. As we seek ways to energize our faith, let’s purposely embrace God’s deep grace.
Why I Felt Spiritually Apathetic (Can You Relate?)
I can remember feeling spiritually apathetic two times in my life.
The first time was during my first year of college. I had close friendships, but none of them with Christians. I was too confused by the Bible to read it, and too “busy” with my friends to pray or go to church.
I was in an area that needed more followers of Jesus to bring hope and life—but I had no motivation for spiritual growth myself, never mind sharing about Jesus with others. Eventually, I knew I needed a change, so I chose to transfer to a Christian school. I thought being around Christians would cure my apathy—but it didn’t.
The second experience was two years later, by which time I had started going to church each week, spending time in small groups, praying regularly, and reading the Bible every day. I was even training to be a pastor! And yet I couldn’t shake the lack of motivation I felt toward spiritual things. I felt like I was taking all the right steps, but not getting the right result.
Weird, I know. Two very different experiences—but with the same result: spiritual apathy. What I eventually learned (and hope to share with you) is how I started to find freedom from spiritual apathy. And, as you might expect, the answer is all about Jesus.
How to Overcome Spiritual Apathy
What is the point of being a Christian? Well, there are a lot of ways to answer that question, but here’s the way I’d say it: A Christian is someone whose goal is to live and love like Jesus and help others do the same.
The point is to be more like Jesus. So one of the best questions we can ask to help us break free from apathy is: “How can I be more like Jesus today?”
Asking this question every day is a great “cure” to spiritual apathy. Why? Because it invites us to find a healthy balance in our faith.
When we focus on getting to know Jesus better, we spend time reading the Gospels, praying, and building friendships with other followers of Jesus. And as we get to know Him better, we see how He spent His life caring for others.
Jesus spent a lot of time talking about ordinary, everyday ways we can care for others: helping people without access to resources, forgiving people who’ve wronged you, and caring for people the world tends to ignore, like widows, orphans, or cultural outsiders. His way of life was deeply rooted in Scripture and prayer—so we should invest in those habits too. Those habits helped fuel Jesus in His life of service to others, which led to miracles.
Service Sets Up Miracles
Do you ever wish you could see a miracle to cure your apathy? Then start serving. Think about the miracles of Jesus. They all started with some sort of sacrifice. Jesus had to sacrifice His time (and sleep) to calm a storm—and His energy to heal a woman with a serious medical problem. He needed to sacrifice His reputation to help a religious outsider walk.
But Jesus wasn’t the only one who served others to set up miracles. A young boy gave up his lunch to feed thousands, and Jesus used that small service as the basis for a huge miracle.
Think about that boy for a moment. Do you think he struggled with apathy? Probably not. Why? Because he used what he had to serve, and Jesus turned one person’s simple, faithful service into a life-changing miracle for many.
Doing the Work of God
It’s hard to feel spiritually apathetic when you’re seeking to live like Jesus. As we do the hard external work of using what we have to serve others, we see others find hope, belonging, and purpose. And as we do the hard internal work of forgiveness, growing in patience, and becoming more sacrificial, we see God doing a miracle in us—changing us into someone who’s more like Jesus.
God is on a mission to save the world, and He’s inviting us to partner with Him. As we work alongside God, we gain spiritual energy from the Holy Spirit and feel a new closeness with Him.
Get in the Game
If you’re feeling spiritually apathetic, then maybe you need to get off the bench and step into the game. How does one do that? Simple—make an others-focused choice. Do you know your neighbor has a need? Meet that need, then don’t tell anyone about it. Or is there a resource you can give away? Then give it, and don’t seek anything in return. And is there a cause you’re passionate about that’s aligned with the heart of Jesus? Then volunteer your time to make a difference.
As you do, you’ll get to see God work in powerful ways. And there’s a very good chance that God will use you to be the answer to someone else’s prayer.
You can make a difference! If you’d like to find a place where you can use your giftings to serve others, consider signing up to serve in person or online at Life.Church.
Keep Seeking God
To be clear, participating in the work of God by serving others can’t replace our personal spiritual habits. Reading Scripture, spending time in prayer and worship, and cultivating gratitude are all essentials to a growing faith. But none of these practices are complete without others-focused service either. So let’s keep investing in our personal spiritual growth, and let it in turn fuel our service to others.
A Note on Rest
Maybe you’ve gotten to this point and you’re saying, “I already serve, pray, and read the Bible, but I still feel apathetic.” If that’s you, then I’d love to ask you this question: How’s your relationship with rest? Jesus lived sacrificially, but He also spent time resting. He knew when He needed to set aside His to-do list and clear His calendar in order to be healthy and stay connected to His Father. We need to follow His lead into a rhythm of rest.
I’ve met plenty of Christians who are so focused on doing God’s work that they neglect rest. If I’m honest, I’ve done the same thing. But God didn’t create us to work, He created us to worship—and we can’t freely worship Him if we’re too burnt out from continuously doing task after task, as worthy as each one may be.
So if you spend countless hours serving others, consider taking a break. Spend time in reflection and prayer, and do some other things you enjoy! It might be exactly what you need to overcome spiritual apathy.
Charging Our Faith vs. Using Our Faith
Last year I got an electric lawnmower. It was nice not to have to buy gas for it. But during the winter, I left the batteries on the charger for three months—and they broke. They didn’t break because they were depleted—they broke because they gained but never gave.
Our faith is the same way. We need a healthy rhythm of receiving and giving in order to have an energized, apathy-free faith. We charge our faith through spiritual habits, meeting with other believers, and rest. And we use our faith by giving sacrificially through service and generosity.
Whether we neglect to charge our faith or we don’t regularly put our faith into practice, either pitfall will likely lead to apathy and lack of motivation.
Energize Your Faith Today
You don’t have to stay stuck in spiritual apathy. So take one step toward an energized faith today. One of the best ways to start is by serving someone else. Maybe it’s someone in your neighborhood or someone in your church. As you serve, you’ll get to be the answer to someone else’s prayers, and you’ll get to see God do miracles through you.