From Hope Made Strong, this is The Care Ministry Podcast, a show about equipping ministry
leaders and transforming communities through care. Supporting those in your church and
community not only changes individuals' lives, but it grows and strengthens the church but we
want to do that without burning out. So listen in as we learn about tools, strategies and
resources that will equip your team and strengthen hope.
I'm Laura Howe, and welcome to The Care Ministry Podcast, I am curious if I am the only one
that this happens to have you ever had your kids ask you to do something, or if they could have
something when you were clearly busy or even like somewhere else in the house, and yet they
were shouting for you and your spouse or the other parent is sitting right next to them. This
happens to be all the time with my kids. And my husband, Aaron thinks it's absolutely hilarious.
Then another situation happens where maybe it's after church or a grocery store, or even at the
beach, where as you guys are packing up as a family is packing up for things or you're carrying
stuff out of the church or into the house, you as the as the parent are loaded up carrying as
much as you can, despite being other people there to carry stuff. My kids think it's amazing. And
they just like March on ahead, and I'm like, Oh, guys, you have to help. But my Aaron, he just
shakes his head, it's like, Come on, give me something, you can't carry everything.
I don't know about you but sometimes we become the go-to person. You're really good at
anticipating other people's needs but don't see, you often take on more responsibilities than you
probably shared or that you, you know, is maybe helpful for you and you want to ensure that
everything is taken care of. This is me I'm this way as well but as time goes on the weight of
carrying everything or being responsible for everything, or just being aware of everything gets
really really heavy. Back in Episode 20, like almost a year ago, I spoke about Compassion,
Fatigue, and how being a helper can erode your compassion for others and for yourself.
Compassion Fatigue is a real thing and one of the signs is when that you're growing in
compassion fatigue, is when you continuously pile on the responsibilities without consideration
of how exhausted or worn out you are, you sacrifice yourself for the good of others. And if you
are in that situation, or if you notice somebody else, I should say, if you notice someone else,
like a friend was in a situation where they're carrying the load similar to that you are, you would
be compassionate to them and encouraging them to take care of themselves. But when you
look at your own situation, and your own load that you're carrying, you spin your weariness into
a negative about yourself you rather than having self-compassion, you tell yourself things like
you should be able to manage or you're not organized enough or he should work harder
because people are depending on you, you need to carry a heavier load than everyone else.
Many of us have been there, including myself and I know that eventually that weight that you're
carrying can become too much and you can spiral. When you're working in a care capacity or
when you're a helper, we tend to over extend we give up our time we give up our energy and we
sacrifice things like our lunches, our breaks our family time, and our own well-being to serve
others, not recognizing what is on our plate. In this episode, I want to share with you an exercise
called what's on your plate and this is a self-reflection exercise where you write down all the
things that you are to do and what you're responsible for your roles, jobs, responsibilities, the life
needs, the issues that you're carrying all all of it, you write it out on the page, which actually has
a dinner plate on it. And I find that when people take the time and are honest about everything
that is on their plate, or what they're responsible for, when they see it all written down in front of
them. It can be really overwhelming, or it can be really validating. Oh, that's why I'm so tired. But
this exercise isn't to feel more stressed about all the responsibilities you have, but there are
guided questions that lead you to consider what you can take off your plate and what you can
reduce. This is a really hard exercise. It's really hard the reflections hard and actually picking
and choosing what it is that you need to take off your plate. It can be really difficult. You are a
doer. You naturally see what the needs are and you feel compelled to meet them. You've grown
a reputation for getting things done and you're the holder of all the information, probably people
have described you as the go to person or someone that knows everything and at times this
when this happens, or when people describe you this way, it can feel like you're a superhero
that you're really serving, you're at the heart of the community. But other times, the weight is
crippling, an early warning sign of compassion, fatigue is taking on more than you what you can
reasonably handle, almost compulsively. You know, you don't have any more time and yet, it's
like an out of body experiences where you can hear yourself volunteering, to do more things, or
staying late or doing more when you know that you have so much on your plate.
So with the goal of helping you my fellow helper, to prevent burnout, and compassion, fatigue,
let me share with you this exercise called what's on your plate. This is also this is helpful for us
personally but it's also really helpful for supervision meetings, it's great to do on retreats with
your team or if you're finding too much on your plate, and you don't know what to take off, it's
hard to figure out what can I delegate, this is a really great tool. This is one of the exercises in
the online course called Finding Hope and helping. This is a course I created. That is a self
guided online course specifically for ministry leaders who are struggling with burnout and
compassion fatigue. So it's on the course Finding Hope and Helping, but I thought I would share
it on here as well. As a pastor or a ministry leader, it can feel like you're being pulled in so many
directions, and your mind is constantly switching tasks and it can be a lot.
Actually, a thorough study was done by the United Methodist Church on clergy effectiveness.
And they identified that the major tasks and activities that make up the work of a pastor includes
13 different groups of tasks and then they went into find out what those tasks required, what
competencies they required and they identified that there are 64 personal competencies that are
required to actually fulfill the tasks of that is expected of a pastor. And the study leader reported
that it's almost inconceivable like it's not even possible to imagine that a single person could be
uniformly high in all 64 distinct knowledge areas, skills, abilities, and personal characteristics.
So there is a reason pastor ministry leader, that you are feeling stretched, you're feeling
challenged, you're feeling overwhelmed is because there's so much expected from you. And the
result is that leaders can often beat themselves up for not excelling at every part of the job. And
you could feel like a failure, there's so much on your plate.
There's this temptation to have all or nothing thinking, where if you can't be great at everything,
then you must be a failure at everything and that's just not true. Just because you're not good at
one area doesn't mean you're a failure at your role or your function. And I want to share
scripture with you or a passage that really helped me reframe what it means to be a leader, and
to delegate and to and to work in a team and not have such high expectations of myself.
In Exodus 18 is the story of Moses, and he's with the Israelites and they have left Egypt. And
they just went through a bunch of situations where Moses did some incredible miracles, there
was the water in the rock, there was the Red Sea, their manna from heaven, they defeated the
Emelec people like their Moses was well established as the leader and the people clearly
looked to Him for all their basic needs, their their food, their water, their shelter, their safety, all of
these basic needs were met through Moses as a leader.
And in chapter 18, Jethro Moses his father in law was visiting and and he witnessed Moses also
sitting as judge with people all around him from morning to evening. Now, I don't know about
you, but sometimes that's what it feels like from the time we wake up to the time we our head
hits the pillow at night again, we are we are with people, and helping people solve problems and
deal with difficult issues. And so in this situation, Jethro asked Moses, what are you doing?
What is it that you're doing for the people like what is this all about?
And Moses answered, because the people come to me, that's why I'm doing this. People are
expecting this of me. Now that's my interpretation of it but it's because the people come to me
and Moses was sitting and judging the disputes of the people because they look to him as
leader. That was an expectation of his role but Jethro, his reply to Moses was absolutely
amazing, so much wisdom. He said, What you're doing is not good. You and the people will
certainly wear yourself out for the thing is too heavy for you, you are not able to do it alone.
Jethro identifies that both Moses and the people are going to be worn out if they continue this
not because the job wasn't necessary but because Moses was doing it alone. Jethro described
that the job of hearing problems all day was too heavy. Moses, a man who was able to get water
from a rock, bring the Israelis to freedom was used by God miraculously, was not able to solve
problems all day by himself.
That was too heavy and I think this is a Selah moment, because how often do we minimize the
work and the effort and the impact of hearing suffering, and dispute and problem-solving and
conflict all day long? We minimize that thinking, Oh, that's just one part of my job I have so
much other to do, and we're exhausted. So we're thinking, why are we tired, we should be able
to do more, and we feel guilty about it.
The work of hearing problems and finding solutions is so great that it was too heavy for Moses
to do on his own. So Jethro goes on to instruct Moses to do three things represent the Israelites
to God, warn them about the statutes of God and number three, make known the way in which
they should walk. And interestingly enough, this is exactly what Moses was doing before he sat
as judge. That seems what he was doing. But then he took on this other responsibility because
the people expected that from him. And so Jethro introduced to Moses, introduced the idea of
delegating leadership roles for all the other tasks, and then to just supervise those leaders,
Jethro was the voice of wisdom to Moses and instructing him to do what God has called him to
do, and what was gifted what was aligned with his giftings, not to what people expected from
him. Jethro said, if you do this, God will direct you, you will be able to endure, and all of these
people will also go to their place in peace. Now, friend, you might be the only leader that people
are looking to you might be that go to person or the one that everyone calls when they, you
know, have a question, you might be the only people person that people feel that they can rely
on to get it done. But God still doesn't want you to do alone. It is too much that is too heavy of a
burden but it can be tempting to act alone because it's easier than teaching someone it's it's this
expectation that people have placed on you. Or maybe we think it defined success or
accomplishment if I get help, or if I admit that I need help that means I'm weak.
In the chapters directly after this account of Jethro and Moses, Moses went to Mount Sinai,
number one, he was able to leave the people he went to Mount Sinai, he put in place leadership
roles and then sought God's face. And it was in that moment that he spoke directly to God face
to face and received the 10 commandments, providing judgment and counsel. Oh, and serving
the people was noble and absolutely necessary work. The people all looked to Moses with their
needs of their concerns but it took wisdom. It took obedience, and it took discipline to discern
what was appropriate for Moses to say yes to and what he was to delegate and build up other
leaders to do. God gave Moses giftings and talents and set a call on his life and when he
stepped outside of that, and when he became he took on the expectations of others, the work
became burdensome, and the work became too heavy.
Now delegating responsibilities to others is really, really difficult, especially when people are
looking to you as the leader but it's not possible for you to do at all. Absolutely not, like Jethro
said, it is not good that you do it alone, you surely wear yourself out. And this is where the
exercise what's on your plate comes from. And it goes beyond just listing your enormous list of
responsibilities and to dos, but it walks you through questions that will help you decide what is
helpful to delegate to someone else, and what might just need to be removed. Being a busy
person has rewards. I can say that and attest that to myself because it fulfills this need to be
needed. It's it's a great avoidance tactic. Hey, if you if you want to avoid thinking or doing
something, you need to just get busy with something else. It works great.
And the praise from other people feels good when someone says Wow, you are so dependable,
you are so reliable. We always know that if we need something done, we can go to you that
actually feels really good. And you see your hard work, you see the fruit from your hard work.
But, there are costs and those costs sometimes are your well being your life, your family, your
relationship, your your mental health and well being. It's not it the cost is so so great. And also
it's hard to say No, and disappoint people. I actually have another podcast on that actually how
to say no without feeling guilty. So you can check that out in the show notes.
Often in ministry, there's this hustle culture, it has become the norm to never have enough time,
money or people to accomplish the work, there's this expectation that we always have to work
extra hard and we've normalized over extending ourselves. So pulling back to a reasonable
level can feel selfish and, and maybe you might get external pressure to do more. So I think that
what's on your plate activity is a great way to identify, but you are already doing so, so much,
you are human, you are limited, you were called to a specific purpose, and not to do everything
and that's okay. I'm not called to do everything, either. It just makes a class, it just makes us
Saying no or delegating is not a sign of weakness or failure. It's actually a sign of great
leadership. So I encourage you, my friend, if you are feeling weary, if you are feeling worn out if
you are feeling stretched beyond capacity, if you're feeling that the weight of being all things to
all people is too great, then I encourage you to download the what's on your plate exercise and
use it for yourself and maybe even make a copy and send it to your friend. I really hope this is
helpful for you and brings you freedom. Thanks for listening. I really hope you've enjoyed what
you've heard today. And if you did enjoy, can you do me a favor? Would you mind writing a
review of the podcast on whatever platform you're on? These reviews help other people find the
podcast more easily. And it really helps recommend to others when people have people read
them believe me they do. But I really appreciate you I am so thankful for you. And I am grateful
that you connected and listen today. Thanks and take care.