Burnout. I think this is the most important revelation I’ve received during this season of my life. I hardly think I can do the subject justice in such a short post, but I’ll try!
In August, I went to hear a man preach. He preached for two hours. Then he prayed for people for two hours. He was focused. He didn’t tire. People were healed. People were set free. He did it the night before too, and in between the two nights, he was in the community doing ministry. I was desperate to know how he did it.
I asked God.
He said, “Love is the key.”
I replied, “God if you are love and not just loving, I want to be filled with your love and not settle for being loving.”
I woke up the next day radically changed. God did something in my soul and spirit. It now shows up in my body when I pray for people. I feel the heart of God for them. Often I just tear up with the overwhelming sense of how much God loves them. Not only that, but I love them too.
I wish I could tell you how to get there. I don’t know. I’ve had an encounter with the reality of the Gospel. The outward manifestation of the Gospel in my life is even showing itself in the healing of people’s bodies. It’s awesome and fun! Let me share 4 things that have helped me grow in this revelation of how to “be love.”
God is the source of love.
In the past, I’ve tried to get people to like me (love me). As you can probably guess, that doesn’t really work. The reason is that my focus was on me, not on God’s love. I was trying to be my own source, like a TV plugging into itself for power … but God is my source, and He provides all things through his love. He gives me love to give away.
When I am connected to God as my source, I don’t really care if people like me anymore. I’m so free of me that I’m free of needing them too. People no longer become your source of love, so you are free to love them. (To learn more, read my post on Identity.)
Non-Christians (sometimes more than Christians) can discern the difference between love and tolerance. Tolerance is striving toward the outward appearance of love. We can’t love people and seek to gain their love back at the same time. You can’t give while seeking to take. We must freely give without any expectation of a response. It must also be freely chosen. That’s love as demonstrated by Jesus.
My pastor and friend Alan Smith said it this way: “I need you” says I’m in this for me at your cost. “I love you,” says I’m in this for you at my cost. Love realizes I can live without you but expresses I want to be with you. Love that isn’t free not to love isn’t love at all. It’s controlling.
More powerful than any spirit is His spirit of love.
I remember a situation in my life that involved some unintentional tension. I was afraid of talking to someone because of the negative pattern I’d seen in their previous responses. But when I told God I was intimidated, He said, “Love is more powerful than any spirit.” That’s what the enemy does; he intimidates us into not doing everything we can to make peace with one another. I needed not only to cast out fear but also to put on love. It’s not the absence of something that is powerful, but the presence of Someone.
I John 4:18 says, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love” (ESV).
If I truly walked in love, that spirit of fear wouldn’t stand a chance. Fear opens us up to jealousy, manipulation, depression, intolerance, shame, insecurity, haughtiness, perversity… But when love is activated, everything else must go. It doesn’t have a choice. Who is intimidated now?
I can’t be frustrated and love at the same time.
One time I told God that a situation really got under my skin. “Jill,” He said, “you don’t have any skin for that to get under.” Oh yeah, I thought … I’m dead (Rom 6:11).
We have only one heart, and it can’t do two things at the same time, so if we have frustration or strife, then we do not have love. To say that we can love even one person and have enmity with another is a lie. It’s like a sick tree. All the fruit on your tree will spoil eventually because of that one area of infection. If Jesus is the vine and we are the branches, then to stay connected to the vine means to stay connected to love. Love only bears good fruit. Do not deceive yourself. If a branch is turning sour, it will be cut off and thrown into the fire (John 15). Love is only allowed to operate in my heart when I can give forgiveness to others because of the joyful surrender to the vine. Trying to “be loving” is focusing on the fruit. The fruit isn’t in charge. The tree is the one that determines how the fruit comes out, so be a good tree by being love. Since you can’t do that by yourself, Jesus gave you the answer—stay connected to Him. Want good fruit? Stay connected to God.
We also can’t say we love someone if we don’t like them. It’s not only impossible but ridiculous to pretend we can.
God reveals who He is to us so we can reveal Him to the world.
The authority God gave us on the earth is the same as He has in heaven. In Luke 9, Jesus sent his disciples out to cast out demons and heal the sick. He said that bringing the good news of the Gospel would do these things. This was before Jesus died! The Gospel—that Jesus died and rose again—was not accomplished just so you could be in heaven; it’s also so that you could love people in His name and offer them the freedom that comes out of love. It’s access to His power!
“And he called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal … And they departed and went through the villages, preaching the gospel and healing everywhere” (Luke 9:1-2, 6, ESV).
The fullness of God is available to you.
Be desperate to get out of you anything that isn’t rooted in love. If you don’t, you are sacrificing the fullness of God that can abide in you. Because whatever that unrooted thing is, it’s taking up space that God wants to fill. When you have the power of God coming to you, and it flows from you to others, you will never get burned out. Because God has a never-ending supply.
What is keeping you from being filled with His love? What needs to go? Is God your source? Do you need to forgive someone? Get alone with God. Ask Him if anything is keeping you from receiving.
I’m convinced that I was burned out in my most recent past because I was operating out of my flesh and not out of His Spirit, which is love. The key is not something I can explain to you with words and knowledge. It’s just the essence of who God is and what he is ready to give you and become in you: love.
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Yes, Love is the answer. I like the part that says you can’t be frustrated and love at the same time. Excellent post!
Thank you for taking time to read and comment Diane. So good to know who is reading. 🙂
Oh, this is so good. And I needed it desperately today.
Natasha, I’m so glad God used it to speak to you on the day you needed it!
Yes! Amen! PREACH! I love this: “When I am connected to God as my source I don’t really care if people like me anymore.” Being grounded in that truth is so liberating!! Not only free to love each other and ourselves as he does, but free to operate in the calling he has for us. He is so good. 🙂
🙂 Yes He is good! And He thinks we are amazing!