Keeping your bucket full: Staying strong while serving others

Sometimes we spend so much of ourselves caring for others that we wind up empty and vulnerable. We have to find a way to find balance and keep our own bucket full.

We love to serve. We know it’s the Lord’s way. But, if we don’t take care, we can give so much that there isn’t anything left. We become depleted and leave ourselves vulnerable to our own problems which show up through loss of immunity, depression and general lack of the joy a life of service should bring. So how can we make sure we fill our own buckets, so we have enough to give?

1. Spiritual stores are the most essential resources we need.

But we have to remember who’s in charge and who understands more than we do. If we live a life of prayer, communicating daily with the Lord, he will guide us in our quest to be more like our savior.

2. In addition to our daily communication with God, we need to read, study and ponder the words, life and ministry of Jesus Christ.

He is our exemplar. He also knew when to take a time out and recharge his own batteries.

3. We have to make sure to have fun recreation with our own families before we seek opportunities to serve others.

We only have them for a short time, and we have to make sure that we balance being an example of service to our children with spending quality time with them and making them our focus.

4. Caring for the body we use to do these good works is essential.

We need to make certain we are building up our muscles and immunities through exercise. An added benefit is the release of feel-good chemicals in the brain which leave us with a sense of well-being.

5. There are times when a good night’s sleep just can’t be had.

Such as when we are caring for someone or spending the night in an emergency room holding the hand of someone we love. But when possible, we must get enough sleep, setting aside those things that would tempt us such as computers, smart phones and televisions.

6. Maintaining a good diet with plenty of whole foods is difficult when you are actively serving.

There is the temptation to throw in the dietary towel and pick up fast food on the way home because we are exhausted. But planning ahead and having a few healthy casseroles in the freezer is a good way to break that habit. We need to make certain we are getting a balanced diet of healthy fruits and vegetables and not grabbing that caffeinated beverage for a quick shot of energy. Instead, keep a plastic bag of raisins, nuts or a piece of fruit with you.

7. There will always be more good deeds than you have time to do them.

Prayerfully prioritize your options and serve where the Lord wants you and not necessarily where you think is best.

In addition to your own bucket, you are probably responsible for the buckets of your family. Teaching children to keep their buckets full is a valuable lesson taught not only by example, but by permission and counsel. They have so many good options before them — violin, science club, soccer, homework, and all the things that make them the well-rounded people we want them to be. But over-programming and striving to live up to everyone’s expectations can lead to burnout, depression and anxiety. Make certain your kids have time to just be kids — to run in the yard, read a book or take a nap when they’ve overdone it. Teach them the tools and show them by example how to keep their buckets full so that they can also develop a love of service without resentment. These same principles should be taught to our spouses as well, realizing how much they do for our families and allowing them down time to recharge.

Becky Lyn Rickman

Becky Lyn is an author and a 35+ year (most of the time) single mom.