Touch, You & Your Family

Be serious but not anxious

Anxious man face.

It would be fair to say that most of us want to be good at what we do. The employee handing in a report he had been slaving over for days and nights will wait anxiously for his boss’ response. A young child who brings a new “toy” he has fashioned to his mother waits expectantly for her praise. The wife who asks her husband about how she looks does not want to know if her dress fits but if she looks good in it.

Yet, there are people who seem not to care. They produce sloppy work, make no attempt to put their best foot forward, or even try to present the best of themselves to others. With these individuals, there may be a history of failure and disappointment. Oftentimes, it began with failing to win their parents’ acknowledgement and acceptance. When individuals feel that they cannot meet the expectations of others, some try harder while others simply give up. Those who are despondent may have internalised an image of themselves as failures, a reflection of the rejection they experienced from time to time.

So, knowing just how important and devastating our responses can be, we should exercise care in what we say when responding to others. For instance, I try to pay careful attention and make sure my feedback to the students and counsellors that I coach is accurate and constructive. The training of these professionals in a field that is very demanding requires their commitment to continuing development. This is a vocation that demands that one deals with many unknowns. Yet in the face of such uncertainties comes the heavy responsibility of caring for the vulnerable and the weak.

The combination of the high expectations and the heavy responsibility has caused many helping professionals to suffer high stress and compassion fatigue. It is no surprise that a high burnout rate and job turnover are sadly common features in this line. How does one combat this?

This question brings to mind my recent coaching session with a fairly new counsellor. She was obviously grappling with wanting to do well, to get the approval of her supervisor and her clients, and perhaps even me. At the same time, her lack of experience and knowledge was beginning to show and this was another source of discouragement.

As we talked, I impressed upon her that we had to be “serious” about our work. This statement troubled her even more. Then, knowing that she is a fellow believer, I said that we “don’t have to be anxious about our work,” appearing to contradict what I had said earlier.

I hastened to explain that work, when surrendered to God, becomes His work. If it is the Lord’s work, He will give us His wisdom and strength. Who amongst us does not want to have the guidance of the Counsellor of counsellors? With such infinite guidance, nothing can go amiss. If it is the Lord’s work, then we need not worry about the outcome. All that is required of us is that we faithfully avail ourselves for His use, do our best and leave the rest to Him.

It also helps to remember that our Lord pays as much attention to our efforts as to the outcomes. When we remember to work faithfully with however much or little He has given us, we can be assured of His approval.

Benny Bong –

has been a family and marital therapist for more than 30 years, and is a certified work-life consultant. He was the first recipient of the AWARE Hero Award in 2011 and is a member of Kampong Kapor Methodist Church.