It’s easy for me to wrestle with having a guilty conscience. Yes, I said with a guilty conscience. I’m a Christian and a self-ascribed abolitionist – someone who considers themselves a follower of Jesus Christ and a destroyer of slavery – and when I’m not living within the frames of those two identifiers, I feel like trash. But why?
Shouldn’t I obsess with advocating for the voiceless, committing myself to the cause of the oppressed, and spending all of my energy on behalf of the estimated 27 million in slavery?
My problem is that as a man I’ve adopted the superhero mentality. It’s the frame of thinking that says, “I can save the world,” and as a male abolitionist, it’s easy to wear the cape. The problem is that the cape can easily choke me.
I know I’m not the only person who struggles with this, so I’ve come up with three ways to help us all sleep better at night.
1. Set up Boundaries
Keep first things first. If you’re a married man with kids, your first responsibility is your wife and children. They’re your family and the first stop for all of your ministry outpouring. If you’re the pastor of a Church, then your first responsibility is the flock the Lord is entrusting you with, and so on and so forth. You get the idea.
The point is that you have to compartmentalize some things and not allow the darkness that human trafficking marinates in get to you. Do yourself a favor and set up some boundaries.
2. Say No
This might sound terrible and completely anti-abolitionist-like, but you’ve got to learn to say no to some of the opportunities you may be presented with.
It’s part of setting boundaries, but don’t dedicate your every free hour to eradicating slavery unless you’re called by God to do that. It’ll kill you. And from someone who has seen so many people burn out from always saying ‘yes’ – trust me.
The best thing I ever learned to do as an abolitionist is to say “no”. It has preserved my sanity, my passion, my relationships, and the energy that I have to give to this issue. When you say “no” to one thing, you’re saying “yes” to something else, which brings me to the third thing.
3. Share the cape
We’re not meant to live life alone and we’re not meant to save the world alone. At the end of the day, the Avengers do more good together than they do apart, so it’s ok to share the burden you feel for rescuing victims of human trafficking.
Steven Covey puts it best, “Interdependent people combine their own efforts with the efforts of others to achieve their greatest success.” In other words, we’re going to be more effective fighting human trafficking together than we are on our own. Share the cape you’re trying to wear.
There’s a Learning Curve
I’m still learning how to do all of these things. When I started 3N1 MEN a few months ago, I had no idea the amount of energy and effort it would take to gather momentum. I thought it would be easy.
But it’s hard.
Beginning something new requires a lot of attention, enough that it could really distract me from my other responsibilities as a son, a brother, or a soon-to-be husband. But I’m learning how to ask for help, which leads me to my last thing.
Will You Help Me?
3N1 MEN empowers men to fight human trafficking through advocacy, education, and accountability. We’re always looking for contributors to our blog, for sponsors, for folks to link to us, and for help getting the word out. Here are three easy ways you can “wear the cape” RIGHT NOW:
- If you’re interested in contributing an article to our website, email firstname.lastname@example.org
- Click here to like us on Facebook
- Click here to follow us on Twitter
But what about you? What are your suggestions for avoiding burn-out in the anti-trafficking movement and how can we as an anti-trafficking community help keep YOU from burn-out?
Leave them in the comments below.
Matthew Snyder is a twenty-something writer, abolitionist, and social media strategist. He is also the founder of 3N1 MEN, an initiative that empowers me to fight human trafficking. You can follow him at Twitter @matthewlasnyder and @3n1men.