A note from Kelly King: Are you leading a ministry where your primary responsibility is caring for those who are hurting and experiencing emotional pain? If so, it’s not a bad idea to look in the mirror and ask whether you are getting the care you need. If you’re feeling exhausted from this type of work, you’ll be encouraged to follow some guidelines Kaye provides today.
There are teams of people in your community and/or in your church who are the unsung heroes of the day. These men and women serve the under-resourced, disenfranchised, hopeless, and hurting on a regular basis. Day after day they listen with empathy and serve with compassion.
There is no end to the stream of needs because we are a wounded people living in a fallen and broken world. We are a people marked by pain.
Do you serve on a team or in the care ministry of your church? If so, then you know something about exhaustion. You have probably experienced something known as compassion fatigue.
Compassion fatigue is a condition common among people who work directly with people in pain.
It is marked by a gradual lessening of compassion over time, feelings of hopelessness, constant stress and anxiety, sleeplessness, and more. There are strategies to prevent compassion fatigue. They include personal self-care, stress-reduction techniques, maintaining professional boundaries, social self-care, mindfulness strategies, and self-compassion.
Certainly, employing strategies of self-care is of vital importance, but let’s widen the lens a bit to the broader view of a leader’s sustainability in ministry to hurting people.
Here are three points to consider regarding sustainability as a leader in care:
1. Leaders go first.
Leaders go first in truth-telling about their own stories and experiences with pain. They demonstrate humility and vulnerability. They lead in a way that normalizes pain, crushes shame, and delivers hope. Leaders go first in being vulnerable because vulnerability is a death blow to shame. Matthew 20:28 (NIV) says, “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” We serve others because this is how our Leader teaches us to lead.
2. Leaders know their limitations.
Two important tools to sustainability in care ministry are delegation and duplication!
Knowing your limits as a leader lands squarely on these two things. You alone cannot bear the weight of the needs of your church or in your community. Follow the pattern of 2 Timothy 2 and entrust to reliable servants all that you have learned and know. Develop others and release them to carry the weight and do the work of the ministry.
3. Leaders know where their true strength and sustainability comes from.
Our identities as leaders in ministry comes from God alone. He strengthens, provides, protects, empowers, and equips. Every area of influence we have comes to us through Him and should be stewarded with reverence and care. Our ability to care for people in pain is by a direct move of the Holy Spirit, and we must submit to His power and presence in our lives personally and in the lives of those who are hurting.
As you lead and minister to others in pain, I hope you find these to be helpful tools toward sustainability. One final thought if you lead a team—celebrate the wins well! The battle over pain and darkness is long and seems never ending, so celebrate well along the way!
Kaye Hurta has a Masters Degree in counseling from Liberty University and is a crisis counselor for Women’s Events through Lifeway Christian Resources. Whether speaking, singing, or listening, Kaye’s passion is to help others find intimacy with Christ and soul transformation through the living pages of His Word. Kaye met and married her husband Chris in Austin, Texas in 1987. They have two daughters through the miracle of adoption, Madison and Cami. Kaye is also a contributing author for the Lifeway resource, Women Reaching Women in Crisis.