John Bradshaw’s Healing the Shame that Binds You







Helping Staff Members Avoid Burnout

avoid-burnout2Working in with troubled people can be overwhelming at times. We are surrounded daily by people in need and often struggle with limited time and resources to help them. So, learning the art of “self-care” is essential. The key to this is developing healthy attitudes toward our ministries and ourselves. Here are a few tips that can help you to avoid “burn-out” and find more joy and fulfillment in the work of the Lord:

A. Learn to Detach — Whenever we’re focusing our energies on people and problems, we have little, if any time for care and nurturing of self, and meeting our own legitimate needs. We must remember that it is God who does the real work in the lives of hurting people. This helps to take a little of the load of responsibility off our own shoulders.

B. Learn to Practice “Professional Distance” — This does not mean being callous or uncaring toward those whom we help. It does mean keeping good boundaries between ourselves and our clients. It means not becoming so wrapped up in their lives that we carry their struggles home with us at night. Over-involvement can cloud our decision-making process to the point where we end up playing “favorites.” This will jeopardize our relationships with our other clients. We cannot assume responsibility for the decisions our clients make.

C. Be a “Helpful Guide” and not a “Fixer” – We get in trouble whenever we forget that God never gave us the power or the right to change anyone. That is His job! Instead of focusing on changing people, we must learn to simply point the way to the fuller life in Christ. This often means allowing them to face the consequences of their own decisions and behavior. It also means encouraging them to take care of the things they should be doing for themselves. We offer real, lasting help when we empower our clients recognize the resources that are available to them and teach them how to access them.

D. Stay Humble – Nothing gets rescue mission workers in more trouble than a “messiah” or superiority complex. It’s dangerous to think that we have the answers to all of our clients’ problems. We need to remember that God was at work in their lives before they came to the mission. And He will keep working with them, with or without us. Actually, we are truly successful with mission clients when they no longer need us!

E.  Faithfulness is More Important than Fruitfulness – We get in trouble fast if we judge our work from a “performance-oriented” perspective. At rescue missions it is not uncommon to go for significant stretches of time without much evidence that we have had an impact on anyone’s life. It’s just one reality of working with troubled people. So, it is vital that we set realistic goals for them (and for ourselves) that are attainable in the context of the scope of the ministry’s programs and our available resources. This will help us to avoid feeling as though we are failing and keep us from becoming caught up in shame-induced and guilt-driven efforts. These come from within ourselves and are not from the Holy Spirit.

F. Be a “Team Player” — Learn to cultivate healthy relationships with your co-workers. Sharing our burdens with other staff members can help us to keep our responsibilities and ourselves in the proper perspective. Another important aspect of inter-staff communication is clarifying our roles in regard to the various duties at the mission. Having good, clear boundaries makes for better relationships and keeps people from intruding on others’ areas of responsibility and helps to keep co-workers from feeling that they are being overloaded.

G. To Thine Own Self Be True – Stay in touch with your own feelings, attitudes and motives. Feelings are an important gauge of both our mental and spiritual well being. Excessive fatigue, anger, worry, etc. are usually tip-offs to the fact that we are living lives that are out-of-balance. This is the time to take a personal inventory and adjust your schedule, your attitudes, or whatever else is necessary to have the quality of life God wants for you. It is possible to meet our own needs without becoming indifferent, cruel, thoughtless, and self-centered. Give some priority to your own well being and desires for work, and play.

H. Invest in Yourself – Besides making time for fun, family, church, and friends, try to set some goals related to your own professional development. Taking in seminars, conventions, college courses, etc. is always a good way to gain a renewed perspective on our everyday responsibilities. Another helpful thing to consider is taking some career interest/aptitude tests like those offered by Career Pathways. Job mismatch, where one’s gifts and interests do not fit well with his/her work responsibilities can be a major source of workplace stress.


RESCUE Magazine June 1998

Continuum of Care for the Homeless


Many people still think of rescue missions as places where homeless people find housing, food and spiritual instruction. Yet, those of us who are involved in this field know that unless their deeper spiritual, emotional, physical, and social needs are addressed, homeless people will never attain stability in their lives. Many suffer from mental illness, addiction to alcohol and/or drugs, and various medical problems. Some cannot read, lack high school diplomas, and do not possess basic skills needed to find and keep a job. These and other complex problems keep people on the streets.

In 1995, after years of attacking homelessness by focusing on more affordable housing, the Department of Housing and Urban Development promoted a new system and philosophy, called a “continuum of care.” It involves a comprehensive approach with three fundamental components: emergency shelter, transitional housing with social services, and permanent housing.

By the time HUD began talking about a continuum of care approach to helping the homeless, rescue missions affiliated with the  Association of Gospel Rescue Missions  had already been leading the way by offering a broad spectrum of innovative programs and services.

Outreach, Intake & Assessment

A continuum of care approach requires a case management strategy in which the needs of each homeless person seeking help at the mission are accurately identified. The intake and assessment process is essential in order to develop strategies to address these needs in a systematic and individualized fashion.

A written plan would involve creating a schedule of which mission services would be utilized at certain points during the individual’s stay. It would specify which staff members would work with the person and which outside agencies would be used. Specific outcomes that would signal the completion of each phase of the service delivery (i.e. the expectations that would need to be met before the client can move onto another program or set of activities).

Emergency Shelter & Transitional Housing

In a continuum of care approach, emergency shelter is only for a few weeks. It is most appropriate for those who have experienced a catastrophe, like losing a home to a fire, or are experiencing another sort of short-term difficulty. Transitional housing involves a longer stay at the mission. This component is intended to help individuals and families to address the life problems that led to their becoming and remaining homeless.

Supportive Housing

Any individual who applies for a longer term stay in the missions facilities should do so with the understanding that they must have a good reason for staying there. This is determined in the assessment and case management process. For some, the plan may be very simple, such as saving up enough money to get into their own housing. For others, it can be more complex, integrating addiction treatment, learning to read, completing a high school diploma, and working to enter into gainful employment.

If this process is adopted, the mission will move away from being a place that just provides a cheap place to stay. Instead, it is truly interventive; a place where homeless and troubled people can actually address some of the following issues during a longer-term stay in the mission’s facilities:

Mental health issues  — Some experts believe that up to one third of homeless persons suffer from some form of mental illness. Therefore a definite strategy must be in place to identify these individuals and develop plan to provide appropriate supervision and services in conjunction with community-based resources. In some cases, these individuals can attain a reasonable quality of living with minimal supervision which may involve a more permanent living arrangement. In some cases, missions have become agent payees for such individuals who are eligible for Social Security Disability Income, maintaining a more or less permanent arrangement to assist them.

Substance abuse  — Because addiction is a major cause of homelessness, identifying those with alcohol and drug problems is a vital component of the continuum of care strategy. To be truly interventive, drug testing should be mandatory for  all  who stay in the missions facilities on a long-term basis.

A test positive test would then be followed by an addiction screening. Then, if appropriate, they are then required to become involved in a program, either in-house or in the community, to address their addiction problems.

Two very good resources that can be utilized in this aspect of the mission’s programming are the Recovery Education Modules by Terrence Gorski (800-767-8181  ) and the ASAP computer-based addiction assessment and case management system (800-324-7966  ). The latter, based on the Addiction Severity Index is a very reasonably priced package with several different components for managing service delivery to addicted clients. Free demo disks are available.

Job training  – Formal employment programs, like WorkNet (818-855-5404  ), are being successfully used by rescue missions to assist homeless individuals to adopt healthy work attitudes, gain new job skills, and learn how to find a job that fits their unique skills and interests.

Family support  — Teaching of basic parenting and relationship skills, along with counseling for couples and family members, support and nurture the family unit. This might be an area where something could be developed that could be available to individuals in both the men’s and women’s in the latter stages of their stay at the mission.

Education  — I recommend that serious consideration be given to developing a Learning Center that provides basic literacy, English as a Second Language, and High School Completion (GED) instruction. The Nova Program, offered by Innovative Learning Systems (213-255-1883  ), is a computer-based approach that is being successfully utilized by almost fifty AGRM-affiliated missions. Some time needs to be spent in determining more definitely how these programs fit into the overall scheme of providing services to the mission’s clients.

Independent Living Skills  — Courses can be offered on such topics as money management, personal hygiene, and basic domestic proficiencies such as cooking, menu planning, shopping and sewing.

H.I.V/Medical Needs  — Many missions operate health clinics, often staffed by volunteer physicians and nurses. Be a basic health screening, followed by appropriate care, is an important starting point on the road to a stable life, it should be required for all who stay at the mission for a longer period of time.

Permanent housing

Mission programs are usually considered successful when formerly homeless residents return to society as productive citizens with their own homes. However, not everyone we work with can live independently. This is especially true of those who are mentally and physically handicapped and otherwise infirm. In response to this need, many missions now provide supportive housing on a longer term or permanent basis in what might be termed “adult foster care” programs.