One thing I’ve learned after 20 years of following Jesus and 15 years of worship ministry is that spiritual boredom is inevitable. It seems my heart naturally drifts towards a state of dullness if allowed to do so. Just as pulling weeds is an inevitable and recurring enterprise for anyone desiring a vibrant lawn in Austin, Texas, so is overcoming spiritual boredom for anyone desiring a vibrant heart and ministry.
If you’ve found this to be your experience too, take heart, we’re not alone. It seems the apostle Paul’s familiarity with this tendency in his own life gave him the wherewithal to exhort the Roman believers to “Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.” (Romans 12:11 NIV)
The literal translation for “spiritual fervor” here is “boiling over in spirit.” All believers are exhorted here to do whatever is necessary to have spirits that are boiling over towards the Lord and in our service to Him. But as someone who serves others by influencing them towards God in worship, I feel the need to take this exhortation all the more seriously.
I regularly experience the “drift towards dullness” in two primary areas. The first is in my relationship with God and the second is in the medium that I use to help others connect with God, namely, music. Here are 4 simple and practical ways I’ve learned to steer my heart away from the dullness in these two areas.
1. Get Up and Get Out. It may be necessary to mention that when I speak of being “bored with the Lord” I say so realizing fully that in my relationship with Him I’m actually the boring one. There’s absolutely nothing boring about God. If you have doubts about this read Revelation 4 and refamiliarize yourself with the energy, life, and excitement around His throne. Or, read the Gospels and observe how Jesus brought the party everywhere He went. 100% of the time I’m bored with God, the problem is on my end.
Having said that, there are many times my heart has grown dull from my inability to connect with the All-Exciting One. When this happens, and it’s inevitable that it will, I follow the example of the young bride in the Song of Solomon who when unable to find her lover in the “tried and true” places she got up and went to find him (SOS 3:1-4).
There are times when sitting on the couch with my Bible, journal, and cup of coffee just doesn’t do it for me. In these moments sometimes I may need to go for a walk, turn on some music, surround myself with nature etc… The goal here is to knock my heart out of autopilot.
Something else I’ve done is thought of areas of my life where I did feel excitement and I went to that “place” and brought God into it. Maybe your thing is art galleries. Go to the gallery and bring God into Your experience. Talk to Him about the art. Thank Him for it etc… I’ve found that these types of things can “jump start” our hearts sometimes.
2. Get Some New Material. Often times my boredom is caused by the fact that I’m simply tired of talking about the same old things with God. In these instances, I find it helpful to listen to podcasts or teachings that aren’t from the same stream I’m used to drinking from. It could be a podcast, a book, a blog, a commentary or even a new Bible translation.
The point is to get some fresh input from outside sources that make you think. The more challenging the better. But don’t just take it into yourself, take it with you into your times with the Lord. Dialogue with Him about the content. Search Scripture to see if it’s actually true.
3. Make Like Taylor Swift and Cross Over. It would be safe to say that most of the worship music we lead in our churches are of a specific genre. Because of this, I as a musician can become very bored with music. It can all start to sound the same.
I’m not necessarily knocking western worship musicians because I “is” one. I’m also not necessarily suggesting you overturn your church’s worship culture by “crossing over” to a totally different genre of music. It’s likely that the church you serve connects with a specific genre of music and that’s ok.
However, what I would encourage you to do if you find yourself feeling uninspired musically is to cross over in regards to the music genres you listen to. Even genres you aren’t naturally drawn to. Listen to them and try to find things that you appreciate and could possibly use in your context.
Lately, I’ve been listening to a lot of EDM (electronic dance music). My goal isn’t to make Sunday morning a rave but it’s been very refreshing and even inspiring as a musician to think of how I can pull some of the EDM qualities I like into our worship.
4. Learn Some New Tricks. Chances are if you are bored with your instrument it’s because you are no longer being challenged. You may either need to learn a new instrument or figure out how to take your current skill to the next level.
I’ve been playing acoustic guitar for almost 20 years and don’t really have much to show for it. Last year I took an acoustic guitar course with Berklee Online and it stopped me from chopping my guitar up into firewood.
Learning alternate tunings beyond DADGAD was really refreshing. I was getting sounds out of my instrument that I had never heard before. It really saved me as a guitarist.
Take lessons, watch Youtube videos, learn a new piece etc… It doesn’t really matter what you do as long as you’re being challenged.
One of the only ways I know how to not become expired as a leader, musician or worshiper is to stay inspired. How would you add to this list?