CCOV is a congregation full of people with servant’s hearts! Through the years I have seen many you respond so gracefully to needs that come up in our community, our congregation, and in your own families. Sometimes servers and caregivers get stressed and even burned out. We talk about service a lot at church, especially because of Jesus’ great example, but what we sometimes do not give enough attention to is setting healthy boundaries. Believe it or not, Jesus set boundaries and practiced self-care. We, like Jesus, can take steps to help, but we cannot control how people are going to respond or ensure that they participate in their own healing. If we exert undue influence and control, we are actually working too hard and may end up enabling folks so that they never break free. Times certainly arise when we have to set boundaries and limits, say “no,” and practice self-care to keep ourselves fit and healthy.
Remember the Bible story in John 5:1-14 when Jesus asked the invalid if he wanted to be made well? This man felt sorry for himself and offered excuses for his 38 years of lying ill by the Sheep Gate pool, but ultimately the man responded to Jesus, who asked the man to do something: stand up, take up your mat and walk. It was up to this man to take responsibility for himself. Not everyone assumes self-responsibility, and we need to avoid shifting into overdrive when people’s old patterns repeat over and over. Sometimes, instead of being the rescuer, we just need to trust God with the outcome.
Jesus practiced self-care and boundary-setting by withdrawing from the crowds who pressed in upon him so that he could have some prayerful alone time with God. You will notice in the Bible stories that Jesus did not heal everyone; after a while, he just had to retreat and recharge. One of my favorite seminary professors used to say, “We ought not climb onto every cross.” All of us must discern our personal calls to service and focus our energies as they are given to us. And when it gets overwhelming? You have two pastors at CCOV with whom you can talk, pastors who care for you! You have wonderful friends in the congregation and elsewhere. You can ask for help. Don’t be afraid to state clearly what you need. We are, after all, yoked to both Jesus and one another, and that makes life’s burdens much easier.
Grace and Peace,