Compassion Fatigue


July 13th, 2016


Apathy may be the greatest dilemma facing the church today. Apathy is always a threat when narcissism and hedonism permeate the culture. The political season we are presently in, coupled with the leftward, pro-homosexual, anti-God agenda of the media and society in general, makes us all feel helpless and hopeless. It sure is easy to get apathetic when you genuinely believe there is little you can do to effect change.


A little closer to home, apathy creeps into all of our hearts when we are discouraged by the actions of others. When Christians that could be and should be active and involved in church seem to find every excuse and alibi to be habitually absent from worship, and whose service for God long ago became irrelevant, it is tempting to let a spirit of apathy overwhelm you. It’s hard to care when people that should know better no longer seem to care.  


You console yourself into believing that they are just going through personal struggles and life circumstances, and that they will one day soon get back in the race. But each week and each month that the unfaithfulness of these once committed believers becomes the norm, it’s so tempting to start believing you’re in this thing all alone, and that they will never regain their spiritual passion. Such discouraging realities are a breeding ground for spiritual apathy.


Maybe the single greatest manifestation of apathy is what I call Compassion Fatigue, which is a nice way of saying you simply refuse to care anymore. We all face the dangerous temptation to yield to Compassion Fatigue. It may seem a natural progression from spiritual apathy to Compassion Fatigue. This is not as simple, however, as it appears – It is really an emotional and spiritual disease of heart that results in full blown irresponsibility and indifference. When we yield to Compassion Fatigue, any hope of us ever being genuinely Christ like ever again becomes highly improbable.

How then can we recover from, or better yet, prevent this spiritually debilitating contagion called Compassion Fatigue? Remember when it seemed like living for others and glorifying the Lord was your daily passion? It is possible, maybe even probable, that that high spiritual plane can be obtained again with some simple yet serious course corrections.


1. Schedule Compassion.

No truth is any more profound than this simple fact – You reap a harvest where you place an emphasis. Maybe all that stands between you and returning to a soft, tender, caring heart is a refusal to remain cold, careless and calloused with your time, talents and treasures. Set aside a half hour, an hour or at least some legitimate time each week to make a call, write a note, send a text, or maybe even stop by someone’s home to show some old fashioned, heart felt concern.  Most of us fail to regularly touch the lives of others because we fail to plan to do so. Good intentions do no good if they are never put into action. Stop deceiving yourself with feelings of compassion that never materialize into actions of compassions.


2. Budget Compassion.


Jesus said in Matthew 6:21, “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” One of the quickest remedies for Compassion Fatigue is opening your wallet or writing out a check and putting your money where your mouth is. Any time you give, you not only unleash Heaven's blessings upon your life, but you also unlock your Heart’s selfishness and smallness. The tighter you grip your possessions, the harder you galvanize your heart.

Charles Spurgeon once said, “Beware of growing covetousness, for of all sins, this is one of the most insidious. It is like the silting up of a river. As the stream comes down from the land, it brings with it sand and earth and deposits all these at its mouth, so that by degrees, unless the conservators watch it carefully, it will block itself up and leave no channel for ships of great burden, which is dangerous to navigation. Many a man, when he begins to accumulate wealth, commences at the same moment to ruin his soul, and the more he acquires, the more closely he blocks up his liberality, which is, so to speak, the very mouth of spiritual life. Instead of doing more for God he does less. The more he saves the more he wants, and the more he wants of this world the less he cares for the world to come.”


3. Risk Compassion.


Risk taking is a necessary ingredient to success. This is not only true when making an investment or pursuing a goal, it is also an ingredient to recovering lost ground. To get your heart tender again toward the needs of others and ultimately the leadership of God, you have to be willing to take some risk. Sure, getting hurt and being disappointed in people may have fueled your Compassion Fatigue, but putting your heart back out there and being vulnerable again is also the only pathway back to Christlikeness.


4. Reap Compassion.


One of the most profound of all of God’s Laws is the principle of “Sowing & Reaping”. You have got to put seed in the ground if you hope to reap a harvest. Without realizing it, most folks, because they have been overwhelmed by problems and disappointed in people, have gotten selfish and small and as a result have fallen into the deep, dark, ditch of Compassion Fatigue. They now believe the lie that they are protecting themselves from further hurts, when in reality they are protecting themselves from future joy.


My dear friend – get out of your comfort zone and try to care again. What you will really be doing is starting to live again. The more like Christ we become, the less Compassion Fatigue we will experience.  The sainted songwriter said it best in the words to the beloved Hymn – O To Be Like Thee:


“O to be like Thee! blessed Redeemer;
This is my constant longing and prayer;
Gladly I’ll forfeit all of earth’s treasures,
Jesus, Thy perfect likeness to wear.”


“O to be like Thee! O to be like Thee!
Blessed Redeemer, pure as Thou art;
Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness;
Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart.”


“O to be like Thee! full of compassion,
Loving, forgiving, tender and kind,
Helping the helpless, cheering the fainting,
Seeking the wand’ring sinners to find.”


“O to be like Thee! O to be like Thee!
Blessed Redeemer, pure as Thou art;
Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness;
Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart.”