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Feeling Stale?


Two weeks before Christmas, the eight of us were sitting at a big round table at one of our favorite restaurants finishing off our pizza and conversations about our kids’ sports and school activities.  We chuckled at our stories of fatherhood miscues and experiences of our lives that week.

 

I then asked the group, “How can we pray for each other?”  I noticed a change of expression on one brother’s face as he contemplated my question.  He went from a look of the chuckling, loving brother that I have grown to know during the past 10 years, to a more stoic and puzzled look of frustration as he said, “I don’t know how to say this guys, but, quite frankly, I’m feeling a little stale the past few months.  Seems through all of the wonderful ministries and people I’ve been associated with the past year or two, and serving those who need my help, I’m finding my internal fire seems to be flickering a bit.  I don’t want to say I’m weary or broken or in a terrible place, and I know I’m so blessed to have the opportunity to serve with all of you, but lately I find it hard to keep things together and stay focused.  The words don’t pop of the bible’s pages like earlier in the year and many times I’m finding it hard to concentrate on God’s word.  There are sometimes that I open the bible, begin reading and then simply shut the pages for I don’t feel my headspace is right.  Have you all ever experienced this?  Or is there just something wrong with me?”

 

Boom!!  This brother was getting real . . . and I loved it!  No mask of trying to show how great things were going in his life.  No fabricated male bravado of having everything handled and under control in his personal, spiritual or professional life.  This guy is a leader in his church, and he’s being vulnerable and reaching out for help.  It’s the perfect scenario to implement our mission verse James 5:16 – “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.”

 

Little did this brother know, that he beat me to the punch in his confession.  I expressed the tough 2023 I experienced and the staleness I also felt.  I shared that I sometimes feel paralyzed by indecision because of the volume of responsibility I feel toward sharing the gospel and trying to help men come to grips with struggles in their lives.  It can sap my energy to levels that all I want to do is eat wings, nachos and Oreos while binge watching The Godfather trilogy, Forrest Gump, Jaws and all the Rocky movies in one continuous loop.  (Maybe even watch all 5 Dallas Cowboys Superbowl victories after that). 

 

A season of “staleness”.  We’ve all experienced something like this and it’s ok to shout out that we have been stale at one time or are experiencing this currently.  No need to place the “I’m great, I’ve got it all covered” mask on.  As this brother and I discussed our state of stale, he informed me of how he was going to try and reset the bar and turn up the power of the “pilot light” inside.  He said he discussed with his wife and children that he was going to take a little sabbatical for himself, alone for a few days.  He planned on unplugging his devices and being available to his family for emergencies only.  He felt he simply needed time with the Father . . . Alone.

 

Right after the holidays my brother told me of his experience.  He checked into a beach hotel in another town by himself with his bible, a couple of books by his favorite Christian authors and a journal, for four days where he went on walks, caught a sunrise and sunset, took a swim in the ocean and just sat asking God questions, then closed his eyes and . . . just listened.  I asked him what motivated him to take this little personal recharge retreat alone.  His words hit home with me as he said, “Because Jesus did it.” 

 

Let’s think about that a little.  Jesus got up and left his followers to pray often.  Why would he just up and go to be by himself and pray?  I mean . . . He’s God right?  How could He ever get stale, into a rut or need to decompress?  Because he was fully man as well. Jesus experienced life as a man for 33 years; every emotion and mental and physical stresses.  He needed, as we do, communion between himself and the Father. 

 

Remember when he fed 5,000 people on the shores of the Sea of Galilee?  We see in Matthew 14, Jesus had just heard that his cousin, John the Baptist, had been beheaded.  Talk about news that would definitely mess with a man’s head!  He then went to be by himself to pray in a desolate place.  He needed prayer, to grieve and to sort things out with the Father.  But guess what?  The crowds came to see him!  Thousands of them!  He then started healing sick people and preaching. After a full day of this, the apostles started stressing out about how to feed these weary people.  Can you imagine the anxiety they were projecting to each other and to Jesus in those moments.  Talk about high stress!   

 

Then he turned 5 loaves of bread and two fish into enough to feed the 5,000.  After they ate their fill and food was left over, Jesus dismissed the crowd and told the apostles to get on a boat and head home.  He then went up a mountain BY HIMSELF to pray.  Talk about a long stressful day.  He had to be worn out tired.  Probably not much energy, even possibly a sense of “Staleness”.   He needed to be BY HIMSELF, alone with the Father.  Because the Father is who He knew, in his flesh, he needed to turn to recharge, refocus and inspire him to march on in his ministry.   Guess what he did after he went up on that mountain to be alone with his father . . . HE WALKED ON WATER!! Talk about an extra pep in your step!

 

My brother, who went to be by himself for a few days, experienced this extra pep in his step as well.  He realized he was so caught up in the daily life of work, family and being busy, that something was missing.  He had grown stale.  What a testimony of how he turned to the Father in solitude to help him reset his bar and clear out that stale feeling he was having. He came back refreshed, ready and rejuvenated knowing he had that time alone, blocking everything out but the Father . . .  Just like Jesus did!

 

Next week . . . I’ll share another experience of being stale and how a brother turned it around.  Join us then.

 

 

Peace and prayers to you all . . .

Trey Etheridge

Founder - MPACT Men's Ministries

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