Just recently a Mom asked our Community Writing Group to help her out with a personal struggle she is having with her sisters. We have asked to help us out. Thank you for joining us today!
“I’m very close to my sisters and recently they’ve been going through a number of difficult struggles. I pray for them- but I admit that I also wear their burdens with them and allow their struggles to really get me down. How can I empathize, support, and give Godly advice without suffering with them, worrying about them, and nagging?” anonymous
As part of the body of Christ we are called to help carry each other’s’ burdens. Yet we should guard against “false burden bearing” which is taking responsibility for something that is not ours to carry. This can happen when we care deeply for someone.
Compassion for another’s suffering is not necessarily bad. Jesus was moved with compassion. But wearing their burdens with them and allowing their struggles to get us down is a sign of having crossed from compassion to false burden bearing.
First pray that God will protect your heart and mind. Then pray about who and how to help, guarding against taking responsibility for their situation. If the Lord wants you to help, pray about how. Then ask the Lord what is their next step? And ask for His timing. We often get in a hurry to help a person out of their situation, while God is actually using their trial to help teach them something.
The truth is that the only one who should be carrying our burdens for us is the Lord. The best way we can help others is to point them back to the Lord, while not carrying or assuming responsibility for their burdens.
Even when God lays someone on your heart to pray for or to come along side in some way, ultimately the end result remains God’s responsibility. We just get the privilege of partnering with Him.
Dr. Michelle Bengtson
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3 thoughts on “Compassion Burnout By Dr. Michelle Bengtson”
Wise words, Michelle. I have been trying to figure out how to teach my middle school daughters where to draw the line with their friends. I am a ‘no drama mama’ and don’t allow histrionics…but I do want them to have compassion and be willing to help friends when needed. This gives me a prayer game plan to pass on to them. Thank you!
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Rebeca, compassion and empathy are in short supply today, so I’m glad you’re sensitive to wanting your daughters to develop these qualities. But when we want to help solve others’ problems more than they do, we step over the line that we were never meant to cross. Jesus frequently asked people to do something for themselves before he acted (pick up your mat, wash in the river, go…). There was a reason for that. Sometimes we can want resolution for others’ pain and suffering more than they do. That should be a strong indicator to us where we need to step back and let God manage the situation. #HopePrevails!
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This is a really helpful post, Michelle. As someone with a strong ability to emphasize with other people’s pain it has been a difficult lesson for me to learn. Another wise woman (besides you!) once told me that it was important to not desire someone’s healing more than they did. That thought has helped me to establish healthy emotional boundaries and to remember that the best possible thing I can do is to take and leave the burden of their struggle with Jesus.