Who’s The Boss Of Me? Caregiver Responsiblities.
Reporting for Duty
When you’re a caregiver, who’s your boss? My kids used to taunt each other with, “You’re not the boss of me!” Hierarchy is important to kids. They want to know who’s in charge. Well, who’s in charge when you’re caregiving?
Caregiving means not just days, but weeks, months, and sometimes years of showing up, being faithful and doing the work. Even if you don’t do the hands-on, day-to-day caregiving, as the obligated party, ensuring care is adequately provided, you’re required to be faithful. But what’s the job description, terms of service, and reporting structure?
The Value of Unpaid Work
In a culture that values earning power, unpaid work is often not respected unless you are “Board member, XYZ Charity.” People do volunteer work, but if there’s no tangible results, is it valued? Build a house for charity and you see proof of your work. Donate a truckload of turkeys to needy families, and you can count how many people you fed. Caregiving is not glamorous and leaves you with nothing to post on Instagram or Facebook. Your work is unpaid and intangible. Who measures the results?
It’s important to know, who’s my boss? I ran my own business for several years. or more accurately, my business ran me. Being my own boss was a strange experience. My performance reviews came from customers. I got lots of positive feedback, but the negative responses were more memorable. A few customers expressing displeasure had more weight in my mind than hundreds of happy customers. Whose opinion really mattered?
Putting too much value on what I do, or fretting because not everyone loves me, is unhealthy. Ultimately, I don’t work for myself and I don’t work for my parents. I don’t work for an employer. There is only one person to whom I’m accountable. There is no fooling that person. He knows my thoughts and motives.
I can look really good to other people, but be a failure. I can displease my parents and be a success. In First Corinthians, Chapter Four, Paul talks about his work as an apostle. He says those (I’m paraphrasing) who are entrusted with a task must be faithful. No human being is to judge the value of our work but God, from whom nothing is hidden. He’s the final judge, giving praise as deserved.
In Matthew 25, Jesus tells a parable about the King who says:
‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. 36 I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’
They answer, “We never did any of those things for you.” He replies when you did it for “the least of these”–those who are overlooked, neglected, needy–“you did it for me.”
God is my ultimate boss. He’s the one who will judge my work. He knows if I did my job resentfully or respectfully, grudgingly or gladly. There is no hiding. He is also the most gracious, loving, forgiving, and patient judge, ever. His loving-kindness is unending. Not only that, he offers a Kingdom as an inheritance, one prepared long ago, just waiting for us.
The Futility of Seeking Praise
So, if my parents aren’t happy with the way I do things, I listen, but I’m still responsible to do what is ultimately in their best interest. My mom asks for foods that make her sick. She enjoys them for the moment, then spends days in agony recovering. Part of my job is saying no, with kindness. Sometimes that doesn’t make me popular, but it’s okay. It’s similarity to parenting is uncanny.
When people tell me they’re impressed because I care for my parents, it’s kind of them. I hope it encourages them, but I can’t be motivated by their approbation. When people criticize me for what I’m doing, I can’t quit because they don’t like it. God is my boss, the one I work for. He is the one who will eventually say, “Good job, Laura” or not.
I want to be faithful. I want to be loyal. I want to stand at my post until I’m relieved of duty. There is a sense of rightness in doing so and a sense of failing if I don’t. I also need a sense of perspective. We (at least I) have a tendency to need to be needed. I require an honest evaluation of my abilities. Jobs that aren’t mine, I have no business doing. I need to listen to wise counsel of others who might say, “You need a break” or “You’re no longer able to do this job.” None of us are indispensable. So, I need to keep consulting my “Boss”, ensuring I’m on the right job, doing it the right way. I think He’ll let me know how I’m doing–if I’m listening.
Have a Good Caregiving Day,