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Question 115

Q: I have a great heart for compassion, but it seems anyone who comes to my church and is in need latches onto me.

It seems overwhelming at times. I help with many events to benefit those in need, but sometimes I feel used. It seems that I burden myself in trying to help others.

One example is that I do personalized Bible verse plaques. I recently offered to each one at church one free plaque per person. But one lady who is known around the church for always being the first in line for food and handouts has asked me for six plaques.

I’m looking for some advice.

Asked by: Anonymous, Connecticut

A: Well my dear sister, the advice that I’m going to give you is simply give her one and tell her that was the bargain, that you can’t provide six for everyone.

You know as I read your letter, I thought to myself, “I wonder if maybe the reason that you exercise your gift of compassion is so that you might get attention, and so that you might be well thought of.” It seems as if you are taking upon yourself more burdens of other people than God intended you to bear, and sometimes those who have the gift of compassion do it because they receive a great deal of satisfaction by meeting other people’s needs and by being thought of as being so compassionate and so generous. So I simply throw that out there for you to pray about.

Another reason I thought that is because you should have the strength to be able to say no to people. It’s good to be compassionate, but when people use you, you need boundaries. So, exercise some of those boundaries and simply say, “I decided that I would make one for people, but I can’t do six.”

Be kind, and when people come and they expect things from you that you cannot give them, simply tell them that. And you will be free. People will still appreciate you because you’ll have blessed them to the extent that you are able. But on the other hand, you won’t be jeopardizing your own time, and your own health by unreasonable requests. So my sister, stand your ground, use compassion, but use it combined with some courage. God bless you.

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