Fired up, or Burned Out?

by Linda Strickland
Jan/Feb 2009

Life in ministry is exciting and life giving, but without an appropriate balance it can become difficult and exhausting.

Sure, the benefits are often supernatural…..but do the blessings really outweigh the continuous battle?  Am I even fighting the right battles?  Why do I sometimes feel like I am fighting people instead of the enemy? Why is all of my energy going into putting out fires instead of building them?

Does any of this sound familiar?

My husband and I have been asking ourselves many of these questions lately.  We are both in full-time ministry….and to be honest with you, we are just plain tired.  Often when I pray with people, the Lord gives me a word that the person is “bone weary tired.”  Well - lately it hasn’t taken much discernment to see that we are suffering from this as well.  The really frightening thing is realizing that we have fallen into one of the enemy’s favorite traps - we’re working ourselves to death…and all in the name of Jesus.

Recently, while I was talking to God about this, I was convicted to ask Him a critical question; one I have neglected to ask while I have been so busy: “Lord, are you pleased with me?”

Here was His response:

“I know all the things you do. I have seen your hard work and your patient endurance. I know you don’t tolerate evil people. You have examined the claims of those who say they are apostles but are not. You have discovered they are liars. You have patiently suffered for me without quitting. But I have this complaint against you. You don’t love me or each other as you did at first!” Revelation 2:2-4 (NLT)

The fact that my Lord has a complaint against me is difficult to swallow.  Especially when I thought He was so pleased with me.  But to be completely honest, lately I have been caught up in the details, working in my own strength and for my own reasons…instead of paying close attention to my relationship with Him and others. No wonder I’m feeling burned out.

Last year, Judith spoke at a conference where many church leaders were in attendance.  At the close of one of her sessions, a young pastor came to us and asked for prayer.  As we began to minister to him, he broke down and began to weep…and weep…and weep.  Now, I’m not talking about gentle tears flowing down his face, but gut-wrenching sobs.  This went on for hours, and all we could do was hold him, as he desperately held on to us.  When he was finally able to speak, he told us that he had been a pastor for 12 years, and was now considering leaving the ministry.  It was just too hard.  He was suffering - his family was suffering.  The bottom line: he felt exhausted, beaten up and burned out.

This young pastor reminded me of Moses. “Fed up and stressed out by too much to do and by too many people with problems, Moses finally came to the end of his rope.  His burnout was classic, the result of thinking that everything depended on him.  He thought that he must carry all of the burdens of ministry on his shoulders because there were no other shoulders.  Here was a man who was taking too much on himself, doing far more than God ever intended him to do.  No one ever sank under the burden of God’s will. But like Moses, it’s when we run ahead of Him and add our own will to His that we get beyond our strength. Most of us are too busy to wait for God.  We have things to do, “and promises to keep, and miles to go before we sleep” (Robert Frost). We overdose on everything; we get caught up in the system, commit ourselves to projects and plans that God never intended for us, and then we wonder how we can ever get them done.”  (Taken in part from the book ‘A Burden Shared’ by David Roper)

I recently sat down with Francis to discuss this article and the issue of burnout.  I was hoping that he would give me a neat little list of ways to solve this common problem, but instead he first wanted to address my personal condition.  He lovingly counseled me and helped me to realize that I have been putting too much blame on myself and carrying unnecessary guilt.

He shared with me a very personal story from his past.  It was 1978 and Francis, along with a team of seven, went to India to put on a conference for a group of 400 priests. It was a busy and wonderful week, which also included a healing prayer service for 20,000 people.  As you can imagine, the team would be exhausted at the end of each day, so to relax and unwind after the meetings they would spend time together, celebrating and fellowshipping by sharing a meal, telling stories, and laughing.

At the end of the conference one of the team members, a co-leader of the conference, took Francis aside and told him that he should be ashamed of himself for the way he led the team in ending each day. He said they should have been in prayer together in the chapel instead of socializing. He asked Francis if he thought Mother Teresa would have acted this way.  This hurt Francis deeply, and made him feel guilty. He talked with the rest of the team, and they all agreed that the social time actually helped counter-balance all of the exhaustion; but was it wrong?

I don’t think so….and neither does Francis.  Fun and laughter is a great antidote for tiredness.  For example, Francis enjoys spending time with friends and laughing, watching sports, renting silly movies, and playing games.  All of these activities help him to unwind and relax, and bring balance to a busy life in ministry.  In addition, he said that these activities will sometimes change from time to time - what works today may not work tomorrow.

He also told me that Judith has been an extraordinary gift to him, in that she brings a light heartedness to his life.  Francis often tends to be serious, and Judith keeps him balanced.  They are an ideal match.

My husband and I are both very driven and work oriented-people.  After talking with Francis, I realized that our greatest strengths can become our greatest weaknesses, so my husband and I have agreed to make more time for fun, finding that counter-balance that we both need.  We also decided that if we want to stay in ministry, (which we do), we need to monitor our pace.

Francis has always said that life in ministry is a marathon and not a sprint, and we have to pace ourselves accordingly.  A marathon is defined as being a long distance race of great or greater than normal length, requiring exceptional strength and duration.  On the other hand, a sprint is a short race at full speed.

I am so grateful to Francis and for his guidance and encouragement.  So I pass on these powerful words of wisdom and direction to you, from a man who is enduring (with grace) the long distance race.

(To read more on what Francis has to say on this topic, I would encourage you to read Chapter 9, “Having to Say No”, in his book “Power to Heal.”)

As we enter another year in ministry together, I encourage you to continue to run the race, asking God to determine the pace.

Happy, Joyful, New Year!


Linda Strickland Linda Strickland is the Associate Director of Ministry and Assistant to Judith MacNutt. Jan/Feb 2009 Issue

World Youth Day

by Bishop Grech
Jan/Feb 2009

Back in July, renewal Catholics held an extraordinary congress in Sydney, Australia. Allan Panozza, who helped direct the international meeting we had here in Jacksonville two years ago, describes the Australian meeting in a news report put out by Oreste Pesare in Rome.

As night fell at Barangaroo on Friday 18 July, an icy wind blew off Sydney Harbour chilling the crowd of more than 150,000 pilgrims to the bone. Then just before 7:00 pm the giant TV screens placed around the site lit up with the question, "...Are you ready?"—to which a deafening response rang out, "Ye-e-e-es!" Then the Hillsong United Band began the first song of praise and worship, setting the scene for an outpouring of joy which quickly warmed both body and soul, as we sang and clapped and danced to the glory of our God...

The young pilgrims were treated to a powerful drama performance by the Youth Mission Team, and two gripping testimonies of personal conversion were shared by 25 year old Rhodes Scholar Jo Mascarenas from Sydney, and ex-London gangster John Pridmore. Bishop Joe Grech* preached a ten minute exhortation to the vast crowd of young people, encouraging them to be open to the action of the Holy Spirit and to love Jesus.

Members of the Receive the Power LIVE committee came on stage to pray together with Bishop Joe for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the young people. After all had renewed their Baptismal promises, we prayed in tongues for those assembled. At the same time, there were members of various groups positioned among the pilgrims to pray in teams of two for any who wished to have further prayer ministry.

Uppermost in our prayer were the three original intentions which inspired this whole event.

1—An opportunity for young people to experience a personal encounter with the love of Jesus.

2—To receive the power of the Holy Spirit.

3—To be inspired to witness to the Good News throughout the world...

As I become one in spirit with that vast crowd of young people, flags from 170 different nations waved in time to the music, I reflected with gratitude to God that this was the culmination of six months of intense preparation by a committed team of people, representative of Catholic Charismatic Renewal in Australia...Our initial thoughts were that a group of us might gather near the Opera House and sing some songs and pray in an ad hoc way...However, the Holy Spirit clearly had other ideas! What eventuated was a joining together of all streams of Catholic Charismatic Renewal, including representatives from the major Communities in Australia...From these small beginnings grew to what in fact became the major Youth Event in the whole of World Youth Day celebrations.

...I thank the Holy Spirit for empowering us to touch the lives of many young people. "...Glory be to Him whose power, working in us, can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine." —Eph. 3:20

Bishop Grech is well-known in Australia for making it a condition for ordination in his diocese that the candidates have made a “Life in the Spirit Seminar” and have been baptized in the Holy Spirit. Jan/Feb 2009 Issue

A Gentle Revolution

by Francis MacNutt
Jan/Feb 2009

Last month (October 20-25, 2008), we at CHM had the happy privilege of sponsoring an international leaders conference for Catholics. The special aspect that made this conference noteworthy was that it was co-sponsored by the Vatican office for Charismatic Renewal in Rome (ICCRS), but CHM was responsible for the content of all the talks during the six days. This conference was our second of this kind, co-sponsored by the Vatican – the first being in April 2007, attended by 460 international leaders. This one was to be a Level II, building on the first, but most (3/4) of the participants were new and had not attended the first conference. In spite of the present worldwide financial crisis, 320 participants came from 37 countries. Some countries were well represented (like Spain), while other countries (such as Zambia) had to sacrifice in order to send one. Archbishop Jose Palma from Leyte in the Philippines was among the 25 priests who concelebrated Mass every day, and our own Bishop Victor Galeone, (Diocese of Saint Augustine, Florida) celebrated the opening Mass.

For those of you who are Protestants, this conference should also be an encouragement, because now Catholic Church leaders are openly encouraging the baptism in the Spirit and healing prayer, which gives an official approval that contributes to a general acceptance among all Christians of genuine spiritual renewal.

In those who came and took part, we again witnessed extraordinary life-changing healings and, occasionally, deliverance. Some of the speakers, too, were Protestant (Don Williams and Mike Evans). Judith was featured, of course, with her teaching as a witness to those whose cultures still do not allow women to take leadership and teaching roles, which are now so familiar to us that we hardly notice. And then they saw the results of our gifted prayer ministers’ work, most of them laypeople who were humbly showing how powerfully laypeople, as well as clergy, can minister and build up the body of Christ. Together with the music team from Augusta, Georgia, the entire conference was a marvelous example of Christians harmoniously working together to increase the Kingdom of God.

Oreste Pesare, the director of the international Catholic renewal office in Rome was there, of course, as an integral part of the conference. Immediately afterwards, he flew back to Italy and then went to Assisi to be part of the international Catholic conference for charismatic communities. There the leaders were surprised by an unexpected visit by Pope Benedict XVI, who gave them a private audience in which he encouraged them to develop the wise use of charisms in the Church. “He also thanked the Catholic charismatic renewal for helping to bring back the charisms in the heart of the body of Christ.” Oreste also added, “I want to thank you … on behalf of all the ICCRS Council for the wonderful job that you have done for this past School of Healing Prayer that we have organized together. Your serious dedication to this important event made it a great spiritual experience for all the participants. … I hope to have other occasions to work with all of you in the future.”

My own commentary on all this is that what is now happening is a great encouragement to someone like myself who has had the opportunity of seeing the extraordinary difference between the way it was 40 years ago when the Catholic Charismatic Renewal got started and we did our best to share what we had experienced. Naturally, some responses were very skeptical. “Are you taken in by the fundamentalist ‘faith-healer’, emotional nonsense that we see out there?” These negative attitudes were reinforced by a most popular Pentecostal author of that time who predicted that Church authorities would soon pull the rug out from under us and stop us from speaking about “Pentecostal” renewal. But his predictions never came true. In fact, I (and the others in Catholic charismatic renewal) had a truly remarkable success in speaking about the baptism of the Spirit and the accompanying charisms to the Church at large. After forty years, there are still church leaders out there who are basically ignorant (or even hostile) to the charismatic renewal but the changes in the direction of understanding and acceptance are (to my mind, at least) miraculous.

And the ICCRS conference that we hosted here is a vibrant, living example of renewal at the heart of the Church – not just at the fringes. There’s a long way to go, but how far we’ve come is extraordinary. That, too, is unbelievable! Never would we have believed that in our lifetime, so much would change.

But we have seen it – a gentle revolution. Praise God!

Francis MacNutt Francis MacNutt is a Founding Director and Executive Committee member of CHM. Jan/Feb 2009 Issue