Compassion Fatigue

Written by MDI Senior Mentor Eleanor Wells

“Well, that’s what happens to babies in Africa – babies die.” A ministry leader involved with orphan care admitted she had that thought and then wondered  – What is wrong with me? How can I think that? A medical professional working in a ministry for women dealing with addiction-related that she asked for a summary of her clients’ stories – detailed stories were too hard to hear. A young, smart, gifted woman left the ministry she founded and also forsook her faith. How could God allow all she had seen? How could she possibly stay in the ministry?

As an MDI mentor, I hear – hard stories, hard comments, hard questions…

Dr. Charles Figley, the pioneer researcher of Compassion Fatigue has famously said, “There is a cost to caring.” So what is the cost? As a ministry leader, how costly is your ministry work?

What is the cost to your family?

What is the cost to your friendships?

What is the cost to your spiritual growth?

What is the cost to your physical self?

What is the cost to ……….?

Compassion Fatigue is REAL – compassion can become fatigued, worn out, used up. Compassion Fatigue can lead to symptoms and feelings of apathy, cynicism, depression, withdrawal, loss of a sense of humor, being unable to let go of work, loss of joy in your work…. just to name a few.

BUT prevention and a cure are also REAL. Research is proving that self-compassion and caring for self can combat and prevent Compassion Fatigue. Simply taking care of you – all parts of yourself – can ward off Compassion Fatigue. Seems too easy yet it works. If you’re experiencing symptoms of compassion fatigue, you’re not alone. MDI is here to help. We can come alongside you and help you create a plan for self-care.

For most, it appears that there is always a good time to show compassion for others and yet there never seems to be a good time to show compassion for yourself. It’s so easy to think that you will get around to you someday.

Today is someday.



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