Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

When Caring Hurts

Written by: on January 23, 2014

I have a good friend named Marilyn.  Marilyn is one of the kindest and most gentle humans I know.  For years Marilyn has worked as a message therapist.  In fact, one of the best I know.  In her free time she cares for a significant HIV community in our local area.  Her passion always inspires me.   While off duty from her practice, you can bet that Marilyn is tending to and caring for the needs of the sick.  Often, messaging frail dying souls who most often have been written off by society.  It is truly inspiring.  Yet, every time I talk with my good friend, she is simply exhausted.  When I suggest taking a break, she often responds with a litany of, “If I don’t, who will, and how are they….”.  Well, you fill in the blank.  Marilyn is amazing, yet she struggles giving herself permission to rest.  I fear she is on the edge of burnout.

This past week while reading Active Hope: How To Face the Mess We’re in without Going Crazy by Joanna Macy and Chris Johnstone, I was struck by the concept that personal energy and enthusiasm can be classified as a renewable energy.  Alongside of this concept, I was also reminded that most use their energy and enthusiasm in the opposite fashion.  Primarily as a limited resource.  While studying this concept five key strategies emerged, yet one in particular moved me.  This key strategy for maintaining energy and enthusiasm  was, “Seeing success with new eyes and savoring it.”  The following are three practical convictions I experienced when contemplating this strategy.

The One…  Could you be happy with a church or ministry of one?  Somehow, many of us have attached production, amounts and the thought of not having enough to our own fragile egos.  Yet, while we strive for more, like an actor playing the part in a  grand illusion, we drain the very energy from our own soul.  In doing so we give to many, rather than just a few.  Why is it we are more willing to give little bits of ourselves to so many, rather than most of ourselves to just one?

Slowing To See…  When was the last time you slowed, savored and delighted in the presence of another?  I’ve heard it said, “If we slow to see others, this is reflective of how we slow to see God.”  Similar to Brother Lawrence, who spent much of his time working in a monastery kitchen.  There surrounded by food and pots, Brother Lawrence discovered that circumstances don’t determine God’s proximity.  It didn’t matter whether Brother Lawrence was dicing tomatoes, repairing sandals, or praying alone in his cell: anytime and everywhere God was nearby.  Do we slow to see others, and God?

Less Is More… Could you imagine if we did everything in life with integrity?  I am slowly coming to the stark reality that I can only due few things well in life.  When I attempt many things, I often do them poorly.  The reality being, if I am going to be an activist who does not overshoot, leaving renewable energy for the task at hand, I must slow, realizing that less is more.

For us demonstrating the gospel in our activism, remember…

A life lived out of balance could quite possibly be one of the most tragic examples of the gospel being misrepresented on this earth.  This disproportionate lifestyle ignores the need for rhythms, rest and so subtly denies the very limitations we have as human beings. The effects are holistic and far reaching impacting your own physical, emotional, spiritual, and social interactions and well being.

About the Author

Richard Rhoads

Leave a Reply