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:
- Spiritual Anemia
- Total Exhaustion
- Relationships in Crisis
- Identity attached to Role and Responsibility
- 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 themes 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?
The 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