Bo Wagner is pastor of the Cornerstone Baptist Church of Mooresboro, NC, a widely traveled evangelist, and the author of several books. His books are available on Amazon and at www.wordofhismouth.com
I suppose most folks would not have taken such acute notice of it, but my differently wired brain could not avoid fixating on it. It was just an hour ago as I write this on a lovely Sunday afternoon. I was heading back to the church right after lunch to do a bit of counseling, and as I passed a Dollar General right below the church, I saw a wrecker on the side of the road. Mind you, a wrecker on the side of the road is not an uncommon sight in this or any other area.
But a wrecker on the side of the road with its hood up and a mechanic poking around underneath it certainly is.
This particular wrecker is not some old junker like Mater, from the Cars movie (No insult intended there, rusty fella). No, it is a very new model, not more than a year or two old. The paint is still showroom quality, and the graphics on the sides are utterly perfect and professionally done. The tires still have enough tread that I could see them visibly as I passed. If it had not been for the raised hood and mechanic, I would never have known this wrecker had anything wrong with it at all.
But low miles and lovely appearance notwithstanding, it was sitting there as broken down as if it were an old Yugo. The vehicle that has at its mission in life the helping of others now needs help itself. In other words, it is now like a whole lot of preachers, police officers, therapists, doctors, nurses, teachers, caregivers, and multitudinous others who devote their lives to helping those in need.
In this world, there is nothing so needful as people who will help others.
In this world, there is also nothing so stressful and self-damaging as helping others.
It may be ironic to realize that there is a lot of suicide among the clergy and in the mental health field, but it is likely not surprising to anyone in those fields. It is also likely not surprising that “helpers of others” are quite often plagued with heart trouble and other serious physical ailments. Walking through life carrying your own weight is hard enough; walking through life carrying the weight of many others is indescribably difficult.
So what does one do when the wrecker breaks down? Obviously, you fix it and get it back into service. But that is far easier done with a mechanical object than it is with a heart or a psyche. With a human being, honestly, the best thing you can do is realize when the “check engine light” comes on and get things fixed before they actually break.
So let’s work backwards, shall we? If you, dear helper of mankind, have already “broken down,” you do not need to just keep doing what you do. If you try that, you will probably end up as a statistic. Get off of the gerbil wheel, and get whatever help you need. If you don’t survive, you can certainly never thrive. And there should be no shame in getting that help. In Matthew 4:11, after fasting for forty days and then squaring off against the devil himself, we find that the angels of God came and ministered, tended to the needs of Jesus, the very Son of God. If even he in his omnipotence had no shame in getting help, you should have no shame in it either.
But for those of you who are what I would call “breaking but not yet broken,” please hear me well; there are things you can and should do to keep yourself from breaking.
One, have a daily, personal walk with God. Those who are saved and then daily spending quiet time in the Word and in prayer, and then all through the day talk to God as if he is their closest friend, have a source of strength nothing in this world can match.
Two, don’t be a Lone Ranger without even a Tonto. The very first thing God ever said was “not good” was for a man to be alone. And that applies equally well to women. Talk to someone, talk to someones. Confide in a spouse, a family member, a pastor, a friend, a counselor. Always going it alone is not a sign of toughness; it is a sign of foolishness. It is a near guarantee that a person is eventually going to implode.
Three, get enough rest, no excuses. Take vacations and days off. Stop bringing work home with you. Jesus told his own disciples to come apart and rest for a while in Mark 6:31.
Four, exercise. The great prophet Elijah was depressed and suicidal, and one of the first things God did was send him on a forty-day walk. A sedentary lifestyle is a self-destructive lifestyle.
Five, radically change your diet. Eat things that will heal you rather than kill you by the spoonful. That same Elijah was fed a healthy, baked meal and drank fresh water before he started his marathon walk.
Six, learn to laugh again. Proverbs 17:22 says, “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine.” helpers of others deal with so much dark heaviness; great doses of laughter is like inoculation against its ill effects.
Seven, learn when to say “yes,” when to say “no,” and when to say “not right now.” Only God is infinite and omnipotent. His help can be unlimited, but yours of necessity must be limited.
Whoever you are out there tonight heading for that breakdown, I am praying for you as I finish this column. Set things right while you still can.
Pastor Wagner can be contacted by email at email@example.com, and his books and other resources are available by clicking the “Store” link above.
Feature photo by Chip Nuhrah