Revisiting 5 Themes of Ill Health Amongst Global Workers

A couple of years ago I posted five entries on five themes I saw consistently amongst global workers that cause or lead to ill health and ineffectiveness. Some of these entries are the most read on this sight. Below is the list of the five topics, the first two being the most repeatedly viewed:

  1. Spiritual Anemia
  2. Total Exhaustion
  3. Relationships in Crisis
  4. Identity attached to Role and Responsibility
  5. Lack of Permission for Personal Development and Care

Based on the first two being the most viewed, we may be a spiritually thin, tired bunch.

I am going to revisit these themes with some reflections and resources on what I have learned and observed over the past couple of years.

The Interesting Observation of these Same Themes Amongst Member Care Providers
I have increasingly been investing more time in training, coaching, mentoring, and advising other member care providers. What I have quickly observed is that these five img_1959themes are just as recognizable in member care workers as they are in  grass-roots, front-line worker, or even organizational leadership.

This fact speaks loudly to two realities.

First, this work we do as caregiver,  cross-cultural workers, and leaders is demanding, costly, complex work. We cannot expect to lean into this work and not experience hurts and adversities of various kinds. Suffering is to be expected.

I was recently with a group of workers, largely member care providers, in a Southern European city. There was discussion around the difference in one being tired in one’s work and one being chronically weary. If I give my life to others, I will tire. If I do so in a manner that leaves me chronically thin spiritually, emotionally, and sometimes even physically, then some elements of my life may be out of sync.

This latter dynamics speaks to the second reality which is that of the compulsive, frenetic work ethic in the Evangelical ministry world. Whether I speak to pastors, global workers, executive leaders, member care providers, clinicians, teachers, whomever, I consistently see many of these five themes in their lives. Why is this?  Are we helpless to the strong pull of needs without any hope of living a deeper life? Conflict may be unavoidable, but must it lead to relational disintegration? Must it be that our work loads are so intense, so demanding that there is literally little to no room for one’s own health and growth?

Is There Another Way to Live Well?
img_2546-1The Canadian novelist Michael  O’Brien writes that our lives as Christ-followers can be “icons, a message of contradiction and consolation” to the world. Tish Warren writes that
we are not to merely be “alternative consumers.” If we live the same pace, the same lifestyle, and consume life just like the rest of the world (just more moral stuff, of course), are we really any different than the world system?

Over the coming weeks, we will lean into these five themes again and wrestle with the paradox of living well in Christ as we lay our lives down in a volatile, needy world.


A Little Help, Please?
Would you mind doing me a favor? Please pass on this sight to two or three other colleagues or friends. It would be encouraging to me to see an uptick in the readership – that is if you think it worth other’s time. If not, I’d benefit from constructive feedback to make this a more helpful resource to all. Thanks all around!

Pax e Bonum in 2017


This entry was posted in Shepherding Well. Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Revisiting 5 Themes of Ill Health Amongst Global Workers

  1. We have placed your blog as a resource in our Global Care team library. I appreciate your work in both size and depth. Keep em coming, please.


  2. claredruryhudson says:

    Thank you for these words, firstly spoken, to those of us who work in member care!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. pauljhudson says:

    Reblogged this on Heal the brokenhearted and commented:
    As we serve the Lord in this complex task of missions, here are some of our vulnerabilities. This site is not directed exculsively to medical workers, but I see a lot of these same issues in medical missions. Thanks, Scott, for helping us see ourselves. This should cause us to stop, examine priorities and assumptions, and get back to basics. Whose mission is this anyway, ours or our Lord’s?


  4. Daren Tompkins says:

    Thanks for this Scott! I just found your blog and will have to revisit the previous articles. I told my wife about this blog and the topic you’re addressing and she immediately said, “We were probably the inspiration!!” I guess that’s quite possible but I wanted to say thank you for what you did for us a couple of years ago at our debriefing in Colorado. Your input and time made a tremendous difference to us and helped catalyze a serious season of transformation and growth in our lives. We returned to Zambia about 2 years ago and I can say today that we are in a much healthier place now. Praise God. Thank you again for the work you do. Blessings.


    • Scott S says:

      Daren! So good to hear from you. What an encouraging joy to hear you are back in Zambia and doing well. Thank you so much for the update. Well done for responding to God’s work in your heart and experiencing a significant season of transformation and growth such that you are back on the field and in a healthier place. So glad to hear this. Rich blessings as you journey onward. SS


  5. dave106 says:

    It will be linked to my Casual Friday post this week, as each of your posts are. I appreciate what you’re doing, Scott.


  6. Pingback: Casual New Year Friday | Paracletos

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s