When I embarked on my journey in anti-trafficking ministry, my first prayer request was to have a Soft Heart and Thick Skin. I wanted to be tender-hearted enough that I wouldn’t become hardened by the difficulty of this kind of work and always show authentic empathy and compassion. On the other hand, I didn’t want to be so sensitive that I became overwhelmed by secondary trauma, and left bitter and burnt out. I wanted to be strong enough to live out God’s calling on my life for the long-haul.
I later learned that while my plan sounded good, it wasn’t correct. God created me sensitive on purpose. God’s ability to use me doesn’t depend on how “strong I am.” The bible says nothing about “thick skin.” Jesus does on the other hand live out examples of empathy and boundaries.
Now I know I don’t need a Soft Heart and Thick Skin, but a Heart of God and a Suit of Armor.
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.” - Ephesians 6:10-11
God is heartbroken by the abuse and exploitation of victims of trafficking. If I focus on aligning my heart with God’s, I will not have a “heart of stone.” I will instead reflect God’s compassion in my “new heart” as a believer (Ezekiel 36:26). I will continue to ask often
“God, break my heart for what breaks yours.”
In the same way I stand my ground against evil by wearing the Armor of God, I will also stand firm in my healthy boundaries and in knowing who and whose I am. If we focus on what will make us “good enough” we will always be under pressure by the crushing “shoulds.” Our worth and value doesn't come from our success or accomplishments. It comes from our identity in Christ.
Restlessness, anxious toil, and burning the candle at both ends happen when we do not trust God to complete His work. Burnout comes when we take on responsibilities that aren't ours. While we are called to help carry each other’s burdens, we are to allow others to carry their own loads (Galatians 6:2,5). If I fill my backpack with things that are not mine to hold, then I won’t have the capacity to carry what God has called me to.
Knowing who I am in Christ empowers me to Care Deeply and Carry It Lightly.
“For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” - Matthew 11:30
It's an honor to be used in God’s ministry but more so to be His child, whom He lavishes grace and love.