When Helping Others Goes Too Far: False Burden Bearing

Have you ever taken on someone else’s burden too far…to the point that you owned their breakthrough more than they did? Did their burden begin to become a part of you in a negative way? Are you seeking to please someone and help their burden that you lose yourself in the process?

People-pleasing opens the door for bearing the burdens of others in a way we should not. False burden bearers take the admonition of Paul to bear each other’s burdens[1] to a counterfeit place. They justify their effort, toting Scriptures about denying oneself and serving others, but gradually erode in their quest to help.

Those who are undiscerning will say with admiration, “Wow. They are so giving and sacrificing.” Yet when false burden bearers are told to take a break, to rest and take some time for themselves, they have no idea how to even do that. They are often overworked, struggle with boundaries in their life and cannot say no to anyone who needs help.

A Burden You Should Not Carry

False burden bearers gain a sense of fulfillment and identity by carrying burdens they should not be carrying. They have been trained to take on the burden of another person to a place where it is defiling them. They forget that in Paul’s admonition to bear one another’s burden, he also said, each person needs to carry his own load.[2] When confronted, false burden bearers get very defensive, stating they are sacrificing for God and going the extra mile. This may be true, but too often the fruit speaks differently. The one “over-bearing” the burden is burned out, angry and stuck in their spiritual growth.

I cannot take the sins of other people as a burden in my life. I can certainly walk along side of people. I am called of God to lay down my life in the Lord’s service to others. I can help them in carrying the burden, but I cannot carry the burden completely for them. I cannot want freedom more than the person with the problem.

This was a change for me, because most people’s garbage would affect me too much. I felt somewhat responsible for their sin issue. Rather than being one who could help equip them, I carried the entire weight of the situation on my shoulders. What a bunch of stress! For years I drowned under the weight of that monster.

[shareable]I cannot want freedom more than the person with the problem does.[/shareable]

A World of Drama

Ministries, churches and everyday friends can often live off of “911” calls. People today seem to thrive off of a crisis. They get so used to living with drama in their everyday life, they often don’t know how to live without it.

The truth is those in a crisis did not get there overnight. In addition, everything is not going to change overnight.

But that fact does not seem to matter today. The demand our modern culture puts on ministries, churches and help centers is insane.

We have been trained that it is normal for others to respond instantaneously to our needs.

If churches are not careful, we will mistake ourselves as a 911 emergency center and our own heart health will be compromised. We have to learn to get to the point where we are secure in who we are, to not fall underneath the demands of every single person who calls out. If we did, our lives would be a mess. And many are.

We have to set our hearts for a marathon of serving mankind, not a quick sprint that burns us out. The only way to do this is to live at the pace of God and help those whom the Father is leading us towards.

Against the Grain of Culture

This kind of lifestyle makes a lot of demanding people upset, but at the end of the day, if I live as a people-pleaser, I will die on the altar of what other people want from me. We might think that false burden bearing is very spiritual, but we all need a gut check to realize that our striving is not impressing heaven.

In fact, we can get in the way of the work that God wants to do in someone’s life by swooping down and trying to solve every problem a person encounters. False burden bearers don’t take into consideration that God may not want them investing in a person to the degree that they are. In the end, our bodies will thank us for the change, because our cellular makeup suffers under the weight of burdens God never called us to carry.

Question: What helps you to see when you are beginning to walk in false-burden bearing? 

[1] Galatians 6:2

[2] Galatians 6:5