How to Avoid Ruts in Spiritual Leadership

by Andy Wood on May 31, 2017

in Exploring the Possibilities, Five LV Laws, Leadership, Life Currency, LV Cycle, Principle of Freedom, Since You Asked

Interesting question came across my radar last week. Ashton was in a room full of worship leaders for a nationwide series of summer camps. For 8 weeks they will be leading the same songs, doing the same things, week after week. Her question:

What advice would you give to us on how to remain renewed and refreshed every week? How do we not get into a cycle? Even when it is week 4 for us and we have sung the same songs every week… how do we fight that?

It’s a valid question, and the Fuge worship leaders aren’t the only ones who face it. The truth is, everybody in spiritual leadership has the task of “handling the holy things” week in and week out. Ashton’s “holy things” may be music and microphones. Yours may be a Bible or a lesson plan. Someone else’s may be the routine schedule of meetings you attend or lead. Regardless, Christians gathered in the name of Christ for any reason have an occasion to invite and expect His presence.

Until we don’t.

Until we drift into a routine or rut – what Ashton calls a “cycle.”

Now it’s time for this. Next – that. Then back to this. Then the other.  Before long, not only can we get bored with the whole thing, we telegraph that boredom to the very people we’re supposed to be leading.  As a result, the “gospel” no longer feels like “good news” and we lose our sense of wonder and gratitude.

(If that sound a lot like your Sunday morning experience, I’m sorry. But I’m here to tell you it doesn’t have to remain that way.)

My response to Ashton was one of those things that startled me with how fast it came. (That’s usually a sign that I didn’t originate the answer.)  The key to avoiding the rut:  Play, Stay, Away, and Pray.


Take time to re-create. That is exactly why God built a Sabbath into our work lives. We need a day for doing something completely different than working.  Look for those chances to totally de-role for a while. If you’re a worship leader or speaker, so something completely off the platform and preferably out of the “sanctuary.”

You may be in a situation where you can’t do this for a whole day. Fair enough. But what about an afternoon or a couple of hours in the evening or early morning.

Better still, for bonding purposes, look for ways to “play” together with other people. Certainly that includes members of your spiritual group – that life group or worship team.  But also, every spiritual leader needs relationships outside the church house, if for no other reason, to help maintain sanity. Um, I mean, for evangelism purposes.


In the word, that is.  Don’t limit your spiritual understanding to the lyrics of a song or the repetition of a few Bible verses. Dig deep into the biblical content of what the theme is for the week. Study beyond what you have time to share.

Look at it from different angles – we call this faceting. How does that translate into relationships with family/friends? Plans for the future? Fears or pain?  Joys and happiness? How does it speak to your opportunities and obstacles? How does it affect your thinking or attitudes.

Do the same for the messages in your music.  Build an index of scripture verses/passages that go with your songs and share your index with others

While you’re at it, gather a virtual network of people who will encourage you to stay faithful, stay in the word, stay connected, stay dependent on Christ.


Get some alone time in the midst of the mayhem.

Alone with Jesus? Sure.

But get alone with yourself, too. Alone with your art, if you’re an artist. Alone with your instruments or your tools.  Alone with those hiking boots or that kayak.

Breathe a little. Create a little. Listen a lot. Then listen some more.  Try to find somewhere that doesn’t have any noise other than what God created.

Those must-have friends? They’ll wait.

That smarter-than-you phone? It’ll still be there, along with its texts and social media updates.

But when you spend a little time away and come back, the part of you that returns will be a better friend, better connection, better leader.


I suggested to Ashton,

Turn the points of your music into prayer points, first for yourself and the other worship leaders, then for the larger local Fuge staff. Then for specific students and the group as a whole. Spend time listening to God through the music you lead and other music you hear, as well as your own prayer life. Let GOD keep you fresh. If he can say “Don’t be afraid” almost 200 times in the Bible and “I love you” in countless ways there, He can also find ways to bring a new song out of a familiar message and repertoire.

That’s not just for musicians, however. Wherever your routine places of service are, each has the potential to become a connecting point with God.

Traffic? You bet. Ever notice how you may see a vehicle that looks like someone’s you know, even though it isn’t actually them? Maybe that’s an opportunity to pray for them.

Meetings? How can I count the ways those can become prayer points?

Planning or administration? Of course.

Sermon or teaching preparation? I once heard Charles Stanley say that in preparing to preach he would lay his notes on the floor and stretch out face down on the floor to pray through every point.


I’m sure there are other ways to rut-proof your work and leadership. After all, there are plenty more words that rhyme! I’ll leave it to you to figure out how spray, gray, bray, neigh, and weigh can fit into this.  In the meantime, work on a strategy to play, stay, away and pray. These things don’t happen automatically.


Andy Wood is a professional Christian speaker, author, teacher, and executive coach. He helps performance-based leaders and professionals find clarity, identify opportunities, and take decisive action. For more information about how he can help you fulfill your purpose, increase your performance, or serve your people, email him at

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Martha Orlando May 31, 2017 at 4:02 pm

Fantastic advice, Andy, as always! No matter what we are doing in our lives, we need to do whatever it takes to stay out of those ruts that bog us down and disconnect us from our focus on God.
Martha Orlando´s last blog post ..A Voice is Heard in Ramah . . .

Linda Vogt Turner July 19, 2017 at 10:45 am

WOW. Excellent advice. I’ve attended, participated and led conferences and it is always a challenge to stay fresh. I particularly like how you have presented this advice in a fresh and interesting way. Thank you Andy!

Leave a Comment

CommentLuv badge

Previous post:

Next post: