Is Your Compassion Reservoir Empty?


Is your compassion reservoir empty?  Read this post by Glynnis Whitwer for a reminder to choose love before productivity.

There’s so much written on being a people-pleaser these days, that I’m feeling kind of left out.

I mean – where are the books and articles for those of us with the opposite problem?  Those who struggle with caring enough about what others think.

It’s not that I don’t care … it’s just that I’m on a “mission” every morning when I wake up. And please don’t hinder me from that mission.

This is a problem few want to admit.  It’s much easier to admit you are a people-pleaser.  It’s a “nice” problem. It’s kind of like telling your boss your greatest weakness is you care too much about the company.

Ahhhow lovely that you care so much about other people. You are so selfless.

Watch a room deflate when you share that you couldn’t care less what others think. See how much sympathy you get then!

Before I continue, I want to welcome anyone who is joining after reading my devotion on Encouragement For Today.  And try and convince you that I’m really not that uncaring. Just a girl who struggles to balance getting things done with loving well.

Putting people before projects is one of the greatest lessons God has taught me.  And apparently it’s one I need to keep learning. As you will see if you haven’t read my devotion today about having a callused heart. This is NOT a condition God desires for my heart.

As I’ve thought about this subject, I realized that another reason for a hard heart can be burnout. For those of us to tend towards over-commitment, burnout is a serious issue. And it’s one that can sneak up on you and affect how you love others, like it did to me.

About a year ago, I lost my assistant at work.  She worked for me 20 hours a week, and when she left, those 20 hours got added to my already full schedule. There were a variety of reasons, but we weren’t able to fill the position until April of this year.  That was a long time to work that many extra hours a week.

I knew I was getting stretched to the limits. I knew I was tired and overworked. But I thought I was handling it well.  Until I over-reacted to a situation.

In my mind, someone had crossed a line. I was working so hard, and when a co-worked made a decision that I thought was only mine to make, I never stopped to consider where there might have been a misunderstanding, or how her intentions might have been good.  I definitely didn’t care about her feelings, because she “obviously” didn’t care about mine.  All I saw was offense.  And feeling extremely justified, I told her so.

Which hurt her quite a bit. We were able to work through it, but there was a lot of unnecessary hurt. Mostly caused by me.

In the weeks that followed, I tried to process the situation and why I reacted so strongly and without love being the driving force. That kind of aggressive response was so out of my character, that it honestly shocked me a bit.

And one day when I was driving, the word “burnout” came into my mind.  I hadn’t heard that word in years, so I went home and immediately looked up the condition and read these symptoms:

  • Emotional exhaustion
  • Irritability
  • Cynicism
  • Detachment
  • Lack of motivation or apathy
  • Interpersonal problems
  • Decreased satisfaction

Yes. Yes. Yes. Every website I visited listed another symptom of what I was feeling.

And while I didn’t have all the physical symptoms, I knew my compassion reservoir was just about empty. I just didn’t care. And that wasn’t normal for me.

Somehow just identifying the condition helped me start to deal with it.  I had to put limits to my work day.  I had to prioritize my time with the Lord.  And I had to realize once again how easy it is for people to become collateral in my drive to accomplish the work.

I’m convinced that how I love others matters so much more to God than how well I do my job. Here’s a Bible verse that speaks to the importance of loving in action – not just in words

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”  (John 13:34-35, NIV)

These words were spoken by Jesus on His last night with His disciples. With only hours left to pour into His followers, what’s striking is what He didn’t do.  He didn’t lay out the plan of evangelism for the world, write a to-do list  or set measurable goals.

He told them to love each other. Really love each other.

Oh, if only I could get this through my head and heart.  Love should be the beginning of every choice. So whether I’m feeling weary and uncaring because of  a callused heart, burnout, or being wired to produce, I must pause before I speak a word or type an email,  and check what I’m wearing.

I must choose to put on love. Kindness. Compassion. Gentleness.

And remove selfish ambition. Self-pity. Justification. Defensiveness.

It’s not easy, and it’s often a sacrifice to what I really want to do. But something happens in my heart when I choose to respond in love. God gives me peace … and that’s much more valuable than productivity.

Thanks so much for joining me today. And if you are feeling burned out, please leave a comment so I can pray for you today. I know our Heavenly Father longs to remove the heavy emotional burden you carry.  I (and others who read the comments) will go to His throne room on your behalf.



P.S.  I should go back and read my own book from time to time. :-)  For practical help with managing all we women have to manage, you might enjoy my book:  I Used to Be So Organized – Help for Reclaiming Order and Peace.