Grab a cup of coffee, this is a little longer than usual. But I believe this truth will absolutely change your life, starting right now!
When it comes to relationships and ministry, why do so many people burn out… or worse, crash and burn?
While there may be multiple reasons for this, I believe if you dig down to the source of the issue – the root cause – what you’ll find is some form of self-reliance. We are conditioned to perform. All of our lives we’ve recieved “good” or “bad” things based on our performance. We passed or failed based on our grades. We been promoted or fired based on our “performance review” at work. Look at every area of life and you’ll find this to be the case.
When it comes to relationships and ministry, it’s quite natural for us to assume these same rules apply.
Before you stop reading because you think you’re not “in ministry,” let me explain how I am using that term. Ministry is what we do for others. If you’re a believer in Jesus, you probably already know that we are all ministers to the people around us. If you do not consider yourself a follower of Jesus, let me encourage you to still read on, as this may help you understand why some of the relationships in your life seem to be much harder to maintain than they should be.
Back to the point. If we are going to be able to minister to others for the long haul, we must understand the foundation that has to be in place first. From this solid footing we can then experience overflow.
In maintaining healthy and lasting relationships we need to be operating from a place of overflow. For relationships to be authentic, they cannot be forced. They must come as an overflow of something we’ve already received. Otherwise, we are going to attempt to be creating this from within ourselves…and that is just not sustainable.
What do I mean by operating out of overflow? I believe there are at least three keys to truly healthy relationships.
The first is we must be able to love unconditionally. People will do stupid things. We will do stupid things. For relationships to survive, we must be able to love unconditionally.
Second, is similar, but a little more specific – we must be able to serve others with no strings attached. Sure it’s great when people who can reciprocate do, but our service to others must not require this, or we will be quickly disappointed and quit.
Third, we must be able to authentically forgive. When (not if) people hurt us, we must be able to honestly forgive them. Forgiveness is what frees us from the wrong done to us. Forgiveness is for our own health. I fully believe in having healthy boundaries, and in some cases we will need to distance ourselves from others (such as with abusive people), but forgiving them is what allows us to let it go. Forgiving does not mean what they did is okay. It does not mean you’re condoning what was done. It means you will not allow them to continue to hurt you by dwelling in what was done. You move forward.
Does this sound difficult, maybe even impossible, to you? It does to me. Which is why the principle of overflow is critical.
You cannot love others unconditionally until you have felt this type of love.
You cannot serve expecting nothing in return, until you have been served this way.
And you certainly cannot forgive others until you have experienced being completely forgiven for all the times you have jacked things up.
Therefore, you must experience…
…being unconditionally loved by Dad (Abba). Scripture reveals that God the Father wants us to see Him as our loving Daddy. I realize that some biological fathers failed miserably in loving their children, and, therefore, for some the picture of God as Dad brings back awful memories. What is important to know, is that while all biological fathers fail in some way, your Heavenly Father never will. His love for you is unconditional. Hard to believe, but whether or not you believe it makes it no less true.
Heres the key question – Have you heard your Heavenly Father (Dad) tell you, “I love you!” If not, would you stop reading right now, close your eyes, and just listen. God will never reject a heart turned towards Him. He wants you to hear Him tell you, ” I love you!”
Once you have experienced Dad’s unconditional love, that love will then be able to overflow to those around you.
…being served by Jesus. Jesus said He came to serve, not to be served. We rarely think of our relationship with Jesus this way – that He wants to serve us! We often think about how can I serve Jesus, yet that’s not what we are asked to do. We’re asked to serve those around us. And the only way you’ll be able to serve “no strings attached” is after you have allowed Jesus to serve you.
How does Jesus serve you? By giving you everything you need to experience real life. We often settle for so much less than what Jesus offers by going after what this world can offer. Jesus says He’ll give us love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control (these are the result of Jesus’ Spirit coming into our lives). Read that list again. Consider what your life will feel like when you truly experience these things.
Only after we’ve allowed Jesus to serve us without demanding anything from us, will this type of service overflow from us to those around us.
…experiencing total freedom from the bondage of our sin and shame. Before we will ever be able to forgive those who have wronged us, we first have to experience true forgiveness from everything we’ve done to hurt God and others.
Truth is, we will never be able to authentically forgive others until we understand just how much we have been forgiven – which is completely. Our loving Father has freed us from our sin and shame, through the birth, life, death, and resurrection of His Son Jesus. We’re forgiven not based on anything we’ve done, but based on Jesus taking on the full consequences of our hurtful decisions and actions.
For just a moment, attempt to think about how often you have done hurtful things to others. Gossip, back-stabbing, lying, stealing, demoralizing, the list goes on and on. When we consider this we quickly realize how messed up we really are…and our lives are far from over. How many more times will we do these hurtful things to others?
Now that you feel the weight of all these disgusting things, here’s the enormity of the Gospel of God’s grace – when we acknowledge we are a train wreck and place our faith in Jesus, God’s promise to us is He completely forgives everything we have done or will ever do. That’s why we call it amazing grace!
When we realize how much we’ve been forgiven by God, the overflow will be our ability to forgive those who have hurt us.
Allow Dad to tell you how much He loves you. Allow Jesus to serve you by giving you all you really need in this life. Feel the great relief of being completely forgiven for all you’ve ever done (and will do) wrong. Then watch how all of these things will overflow out of you to those around you!
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