How to Overcome Apathy

This is what the Lord says:

“Stand at the crossroads and look;

    ask for the ancient paths,

ask where the good way is, and walk in it,

    and you will find rest for your souls.

    But you said, ‘We will not walk in it.’”

Jeremiah 6:16

A few verses in the Bible haunt me. Usually, I read about a picture that is so lovely…and then…“but you refused.” Isaiah 30:15 is one of those verses. Jeremiah 6:16 is another. It starts so lovely, a beautiful path, a good way, and then…”But you said, ‘We will not walk in it.’” The competitor in me wants to prove the verse wrong. The legalist in me feels guilty before the first step down that path. And the Jesus-lover cries. What is a person to do?

First, a story. When I grew up, we were assigned textbooks in school. At the beginning of the year, you got a used book, with the promise to not destroy it. I took that mandate very seriously, which is my personality showing up. I made book covers out of paper bags, was careful around water and other liquids, and never wrote in the margins. 

In high school, I got a Life Application Bible for Christmas, and it’s a prized possession. I wasn’t going to write in the margins, keep it nice forever, and then realized I’m missing out! That Bible is now chalk full of markings. Jeremiah 6:16 has some markings (see below) that I think solves for our question about how to overcome residual feelings while reading pleasant verses followed by scary conclusions.

Jeremiah 6:16-17

When I first started scribbling in my Bible, I numbered the action words in this passage. Verbs can spur us from apathy to action. Jeremiah 6:16 has five verbs, and they each give us a clue:

  1. Stand. 
  2. Look.
  3. Ask.
  4. Walk.
  5. Find rest.

Each small step is followed by another. To avoid the conclusion of “not walk[ing] in it,” a smaller step is required beforehand. Stand. Look. Ask. Walk. And then, find rest.

How does this apply to a nonprofit experiencing apathy? The imperatives probably have an echo:

  1. Stand. 
  2. Look.
  3. Ask.
  4. Walk.
  5. Find rest.

As you stand up (for a value or to strategically look at your organization), you’ll notice where your emotions and spirit are more awake. You’ll look at that more closely. Ask questions, and start to walk in a new direction. Then, you’ll avoid the haunting of “not walk[ing] in it.”

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© 2021, Mollie Bond. All rights reserved. Originally published at www.molliebond.org.

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