In high school, my older brother Jon was OBSESSED with studying love and relationships (which worked out great for him - he’s good at peopling!). He studied the Bible, listened to teaching tapes (yes, tapes), and talked about it All. The. Time. One teaching in particular was his favorite: “How to Know You’re in Love” by Dawson McAllister.
He played it in the car so frequently, that he had the entire teaching memorized. WE ALL had the entire teaching memorized. Even today, almost twenty years later, I can recall most of it.
One particular line was “Love gives, and gives, and gives… and when it hurts, it gives some more.” He was highlighting how love (even romantic love) isn’t about making us feel good, it’s about sacrificially giving to those around you. That’s what Jesus did. That is true love.
Obviously we have to have healthy boundaries, and we need to learn to love people with God’s love, not our own strength.
But what do we do when our love for people gets tired?
We all experience seasons where we feel like we don’t have much left to give. So how do we stay in that flow of love for the long haul?
I posed this question to some people that I respect... people who have walked in love for DECADES. What do you do when your love gets tired? Here are their responses:
Pastor Ryan Stafford, Victory Christian Center: “We get so busy ‘doing things’ - and they may be good - but we must be sure that we put our time into what God has truly called us to. Different seasons may require us to lay down certain activities. I used to take the seniors on their senior mission trip, and loved it. But with six children of my own, I knew God was asking me to lay that aside for a season. Also, as Keith Wheeler has said, ‘Ministry is the overflow of a life lived in love with Jesus.’
Pastor Sonjia Braun, Porterville Believer’s Church: “I go back to the source of all love. As I focus again on His goodness and love for me, the never-ending love He has deposited in me begins to bubble up. And then I look for someone to love...it never fails...He puts some random person in my path and as I reach out to them the love flows freely once again. We all get tired...but guard against tiring and go to Him.”
Pastor Jerry Dahlke: “I begin to evaluate "me." My frame of mind, my physical condition, my degree of tiredness. My schedule, my to do list, my lack of fun and exercise. My spiritual wellness, as in Bible time, prayer, and time with the Lord […] Usually it is my lack of taking care of myself, as in providing balance in my life, that causes me to run low on love for people. Think about Jesus. After He ministered to people […] He got away by Himself with God to be refreshed.”
Marcy Leute, Intercessor/ Spiritual Mother to Many: “First I evaluate if 1.) I am stretched too thin, or 2.) not setting healthy boundaries with myself and others, or 3.) if I've allowed someone to steal my time instead of receive it. … [Then] I […] ask The Lord to tell me how he sees the one that my love has grown tired for. I love this because God typically softens my heart toward them, strengthens my spirit man and revives my soul! Then I do things to recharge! […] In general I need lots of down time in order to be a good lover of people. Never think it's selfish to take a break away so that you can richly love people.”
Pastor Jake Woodruff, Victory Christian Center: “I believe walking in love with people is a choice, not a feeling. It all starts with knowing the unconditional love of God in our lives […] You can't give what you don't have, and you can't show God's love until you truly know God's love.”
These words of wisdom challenge me in a few overall areas. In order to love well for the long haul we must:
1.) Have consistent, quality time spent with Jesus. He will refresh us and as Romans 5:5 says, the Holy Spirit “sheds love abroad in our hearts.” Be sure that we are pulling from this well in order to give to others, and not from our own gifts and strengths.
2.) Know what God has placed before us to accomplish. There is a fine line between something that is good and something that is God. It takes the Holy Spirit to discern what that is. And the Lord loves to show us!
3.) Set boundaries toward our priorities. There is an endless supply of people and situations that need our time/energy/resources. We have to learn how to say no in order to be effective with our yes.
Is your love feeling tired today? What can you do to draw from the well of living water that never runs dry? Let’s aim to love for the long haul!
Check out this two minute video with Christine Caine on how to avoid burnout: