Wise Practices: How Do You Fight Apathy?

Wise Practices: How Do You Fight Apathy?

Our current letter series “Wise Practices” aims to share practical knowledge and wisdom to help us grow as doers of the word. Each letter will share applied methods and answer a ‘how.’ These practices are not perfect or comprehensive. They are personal testimonies; shared knowledge and wisdom gained through pursuit and service that helped facilitate growth in our lives. We pray they help you grow as well.

Apathy isn’t laziness. And it isn’t ignorance. It’s not even complacency. Simply put: It’s a lack of concern. Apathy is when you don’t care. The prophet Hosea writes: “But when they had grazed, they became full, they were filled and their heart was lifted up; therefore they forgot me” (Hosea 13:6).

When it comes to the church and being faithful to God, apathy can be a real problem. Apathy can look like soul lethargy, when you are lacking awe and wonder. Apathy can look like isolation from God’s people. Apathy can look like disinterested passivity. Jesus followers are wise to identify and root out areas of spiritual apathy in their lives and prepare them for the slaughter.

Causes of Apathy
Anything that pulls or distracts our heart and attention from God will result in an apathy toward the things He loves. Here are three examples:

Living In Unconfessed Sin
“For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away, through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer” (Psalm 32:3–4).

Neglecting the Spiritual Disciplines
“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near” (Hebrews 10:24–25). And: “My soul clings to the dust; give me life according to your word!” (Psalm 119:25)

Giving Too Much Attention to What is Less Important
“Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth” (Colossians 3:2). And: “​​You looked for much, and behold, it came to little. And when you brought it home, I blew it away. Why? declares the LORD of hosts. Because of my house that lies in ruins, while each of you busies himself with his own house” (Haggai 1:9).

What is the Cure for Apathy?
Be honest. Jesus declared that the church at Ephesus had “Left its first love” (Revelation 2:4). Ask yourself if your zeal and hunger for God has been replaced by apathy. Share that with God and with other believers.

Pray Scripture. Our temptation when we are apathetic is to focus our prayers on ourselves instead of on God. King David modeled this in Psalms in very honest prayers intended to shift attention away from himself and to the grace of God. Psalm 143 ( below) has been a go to chapter for me to cry out to God in prayer during seasons of lethargy, passivity, or indifference.

(1) Hear my prayer, O LORD, Give ear to my supplications! Answer me in Your faithfulness, in Your righteousness!… (3) For the enemy has persecuted my soul; He has crushed my life to the ground; He has made me dwell in dark places, like those who have long been dead…. (8) Let me hear Your lovingkindness in the morning; For I trust in You; Teach me the way in which I should walk; For to You I lift up my soul. (Psalm 143:1, 3, and 8)

A great short book for praying Scripture is Donald Whitney’s Praying the Bible (see the blueprint guide here).

Put off and put on. Recognize habits, activities, and practices in your life that may not be sinful, but are distracting to your soul. Whether it’s social media, binge watching a series, or whatever, there is an endless stream of things that can temporarily distract you from focusing on what matters most. Scripture calls us to only “put off” what may be distracting or deadeing to our soul, but then in its place to “put on” those soul strengthening habits and pursuits (Colossians 3:8–17).

Press into community. The Bible is clear that our souls are “spurred on” by the presence and investment of His people. Prolonged isolation will lead to apathy and indifference. The author of Hebrews was clear:

(24) and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, (25) not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near. (Hebrews 10:24–25)

Pursuing wisdom together,

Mike Laughrun

Elder Oversight Team / Lead Pastor, Global Outreach

Mike Laughrun has served as Lead Pastor at Tri-Cities Baptist Church since January of 2011. He and his wife Jennifer have been married since 1995 and have five children: Josh, Joseph, Olivia, Mya, Maleah.