The ProLife Team Podcast | Episode 14 with Joan Boydell | About Selfcare for Pregnancy Clinic Teams

The ProLife Team Podcast
The ProLife Team Podcast | Episode 14 with Joan Boydell | About Selfcare for Pregnancy Clinic Teams
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The Importance of Self-Care in the Work of a Pregnancy Center Executive Director

In the demanding role of an executive director at a pregnancy center, self-care is crucial. Joan, who has firsthand experience in this field, understands the need for taking care of oneself while serving others. This blog post explores Joan’s insights and the significance of self-care in this challenging work environment.

Summary:

This is Jacob Barr, and on the Pro-Life Team Podcast, I had the pleasure of speaking with Joan Boydell, an experienced figure in the world of pregnancy care. Joan has a rich history in this field, having served as an executive director for two decades and as a consultant for Care Net. She shared valuable insights about the importance of self-care for those working in pregnancy centers, especially given the emotionally taxing nature of the work.

Joan emphasized that while there’s satisfaction in helping others, the pressures of dealing with clients who have great needs can be draining. She highlighted the significance of taking breaks and engaging in activities that rejuvenate the spirit, whether it’s reading, outdoor activities, or just spending time in solitude. These breaks are not just luxuries but necessities for maintaining the capacity to care for others effectively.

A poignant part of our conversation was about the spiritual component of self-care. Joan stressed that continuous giving without being spiritually nourished can lead to burnout. She also touched upon the power of listening and empathizing with clients, which is pivotal in helping them.

Joan also shared a personal strategy for unwinding and disconnecting from work pressures, which involved using her commute time for reflection and prayer. This practice allowed her to leave work at work and focus on her family life at home.

Another critical aspect discussed was the importance of training and supervision in pregnancy care centers. This training equips volunteers and staff to effectively listen and empathize with clients, understanding their individual situations and addressing them accordingly.

We also talked about the role of the church and pastors in addressing abortion and providing post-abortion healing. Joan’s perspective on equipping pastors with the right tools to address these sensitive issues was enlightening.

Finally, Joan mentioned her book, “My Mother Will Kill Me, My Father Will Die,” which targets those working in caregiving, particularly in pregnancy centers. The book is a resource for understanding and navigating the challenges faced in this line of work.

#PregnancyCare, #SelfCareInMinistry, #SpiritualNourishment, #ListeningAndEmpathy, #CaregivingChallenges, #PostAbortionHealing, #ChurchRoleInProLife, #JoanBoydellInsights, #PregnancyCenterSupport, #ProLifeLeadership

Transcript:

The transcript was automatically generated and may contain errors.

Jacob Barr :

Welcome to the pro-life Team Podcast i’m here with Joan, who is going to speak to us about self-care and the need for self-care today and and even though it may, this is something we’ve we’ve needed over the long term. It seems even more present and more needed today than it has been in previous years. Would you tell me a little bit about who you are? What’s your If you were to introduce yourself to an executive director or several executive directors, how might you introduce yourself when it comes to where you’ve been and what you do?

Joan Boydell :

I’m very pleased to walk alongside you as you do your work in a pregnancy center. I started working in pregnancy centers a long time ago and served as an executive director for 20 years. And during that time, I also became a consultant for Care Net and I have continued with that role. So I talk to you people on the phone or get emails all the time from directors and client services directors and other people who work in the center who want to talk and get answers to their questions.

Jacob Barr :

Ok. So when it comes to self-care how would you describe the impact or the need that a director has or their team might have for for self-care like what’s the importance and what’s the effect?

Joan Boydell :

You know the it’s important all the time because we’re working with people who have great needs and that can be very taxing for those who are helping them. There’s an excitement, there’s a a satisfaction in helping, but there’s also a lot of pressure and a lot of drain. And so one of the things that we have to encourage people to do is be sure that they have resources for caring for themselves, not just for their clients. You know the old thing, when you get on a plane, don’t put a mask on your child first, get your own mask on because if you’re not, it’s good taking care of yourself.

Jacob Barr :

You’re not able to help take care of others.

Joan Boydell :

Yeah, I talked to a director recently who. Was just so overwhelmed with the pressures at home, especially during this pandemic time. The pressures at work, the pressures at home and she just finally had to take a 24 hour break where she went away by herself and cut all communication. Didn’t didn’t watch any screens, didn’t listen to any phones but just to refresh did a lot of walking outside and.

Jacob Barr :

Different things work for different people, but it’s important to be caring for yourself and that brings up a good topic of what are some examples of self-care so breaking away from the center work for a period? Getting outdoors.

Joan Boydell :

Can be helpful.

Jacob Barr :

So yeah so can you share more examples or?

Joan Boydell :

Different things bring pleasure to different people in terms of somebody just needs to sit down and read a book that is not referring to. The intensity of the work. Somebody needs to go out and laugh, do something that’s fun. Maybe go roller skating, I don’t know but different kinds of things that people do in order to lift themselves up.

Jacob Barr :

Ok, that’s really good.

Joan Boydell :

And of course there’s this huge spiritual component that if we’re not being fed spiritually, we you can’t keep giving out and giving out if there’s not.

Jacob Barr :

Taking in there’s one of the gentlemen at my church where he’s a a chaplain he was a chaplain at a hospital and and So what happened is that people when they when people pass away in a hospital situation like the ER, it’s it’s unexpected it’s it’s people don’t want that person to pass away they haven’t prepared at all it’s all very sudden. And so as a chaplain he would often find himself working in the hardest situations because he would be working with people who were angry, very emotional, under a lot of stress that all just showed up in a short period of time. And what the result was is that he was sort of like a warrior on the front line being battled and being beaten and bloodied and he needed to have self-care and he wasn’t getting the self-care and so it was he ended up today he works in different situation he’s working as a chaplain at a for for people who are experiencing end of life in the end of life scenario. And so it’s a it’s a it’s a much different situation where people know they’re in the final chapter and then they’re trying to find peace, and it’s still difficult, but it’s nowhere near as difficult as the, ER styled chaplain.

Joan Boydell :

You know, I I wrote a book recently and it talks about different situations that people face, especially in pregnancy care ministry. And one of the things that I share in there is a personal thing. I had to drive quite a distance to get to my center. And I found that that was actually a good thing in many ways because as I was leaving and coming home most of the time I didn’t do this very well all the time. I was able to use that time. To kind of unpack the day and break my thoughts to the Lord, think about the clients and pray for them and then put them to rest for the night and not carry that home with me and so that I could enjoy my family and one of the sadnesses is that you know people who are not going home to a pleasant environment, who are not going home to a place where there are people who love them and will receive them. Maybe not going home preparing A nutritious meal, but finding something scattered in the cupboard that they could open to eat just because they don’t have the same supply of food so there’s that kind of pressure that can be very can really weigh someone down and there’s no way to avoid that when you’re working with troubled people day after day, hour after hour. And I think the experience that we’ve all had recently with the pandemic is. You know, we went through this period and we adjusted to it and I was so amazed that pregnancy centers did such a good job of still seeing their clients, of still making a way of coming up with creative ways to serve. But we thought we were coming out of it and now people are feeling like, is this going to ever end?

Jacob Barr :

Yeah, it feels like a dragging on, yeah, there’s a new cycle on the horizon and some of those anxieties are, you know, on the, on the looking to come.

Joan Boydell :

Back right. One of the things that’s part of self-care is I think we need to talk about our troubles, talk about our anxieties, express those concerns and find safe people to do that with. And that may be director to director, staff to staff you know where you can say let’s talk about what’s troubling us, let’s bring it out in the open and to be praying for each other is huge huge.

Jacob Barr :

Yeah when I used to work at a prancy clinic as a publishing manager every morning we would start the day with with prayer. And at first I thought it was really nice, but then I realized it was more like a necessity because this was a spiritual space with spiritual warfare going on and not just simply we weren’t just doing it. You know, I’ve eventually learned we weren’t just doing it as a as a good discipline, but we were doing it more of out of it’s. It’s so necessary to be able to have long term work work in that space for a long period requires ongoing prayer throughout everything because there’s there’s attacks that show up in the details and then God can show up in the details too and so there’s a lot of it’s in the details, more so than the bigger pieces, it seems like.

Joan Boydell :

People talk about things like pop up prayer or instant prayer or whatever and so it’s great to pray as a team when you can, but then throughout the day. You know, taking one person aside and said, let’s pray, I just had a difficult session. You know, we don’t have to share the details we can protect confidentiality but that was a really hard session and I need, I need some refreshment right now. Maybe it’s opening the door and going for a short walk. Maybe it’s going and buying an ice cream cone in the middle of the day or something to to just break that endless pressure.

Jacob Barr :

And there was A at my church they recently had a sermon about spending time with Jesus like not just going to walk, going on a walk for exercise, but going on a walk with Jesus and talking to him as if he was really there because he is really there, But actually like, you know, talking to him, right. And and doing it for, you know, actually, like going on a walk with Jesus, more so than doing it for some other purpose.

Joan Boydell :

You know a phrase from a sermon that I heard recently was. Look like Jesus and look like Jesus. And the point being, if you look at other people, the way Jesus looks at other people and the way Jesus looks at you, then you begin to look like Jesus to those people, to yours. You see who he is and it makes all the difference in the world, makes all the difference in the world. I titled my book My Mother Will Kill Me, My Father Will Die, which is kind of a strange title, but the point is. That it, it has a subtitle Seeds of Shame, Harvest of Hope. Because we have, I’ve heard, I heard clients say those things they’re under such tremendous pressure.

Jacob Barr :

And so you can imagine the people who are working with those clients are feeling that pressure too, of how do I help this one. Yeah, the the pressure to abort, the pressure of the shame if I tell my mom, it’s going to be terrible or my dad’s going to be really upset and disappointed.

Joan Boydell :

Right, right.

Jacob Barr :

So they take on all that shame when and then and then make a decision that hurts everybody. Yeah whereas that shame needs to be how would you describe what needs to happen to that shame when that shame is present? What what needs to happen next?

Joan Boydell :

What happens next is, I think the first The first step is the relief. Of being able to say that in a safe place and then helping somebody bring down the pressure and recognize that you take a step at a time and somebody said, you know, you don’t unpack every suitcase at the same moment. You you look at, well, let’s see what is the, what is the top most thing that’s causing difficulty right now? How your parents are going to feel about this? Have you talked to your parents? What kind of? What situations can you talk to your parents about and so on and bringing bringing down the intensity What? What’s going to happen to my schooling? What am I going to do about a job?

Jacob Barr :

What if my boyfriend leaves me and just unpacking and doing a piece at a time instead of thinking we have to solve everything at really good i mean, it makes it into a taking one bite at a time instead of trying to take too too large of a an amount on right so in Tucson there was this clinic on the clinic with three locations, the the Crisis Pregnancy Centers of Tucson now it’s hands of hope but they used to have a location in the worst part of town and they had other locations in better parts of the city or you know, less poverty stricken and or more normal I guess. And the the the location that was in the poverty stricken area, it had a high turnover rate of volunteers because people had more more suitcases of hardships they would have, you know, they might be illegal for Mexico, they might be, it might be there’s drugs or addiction, there might be an abusive boyfriend or an abusive relationship involved. And whereas the the unplanned pregnancies in midtown where they might have one or two problems, the ones on the South side would have three four or five problems and maybe they didn’t even speak English and there’s a whole different level of issues. And what would you say to to volunteers who are experiencing hard clients that have 5 suitcases of baggage? Maybe you know, revisiting the idea of doing 1 suitcase at a time Or how else would you, how else would you approach that?

Joan Boydell :

Well, one thing that I think is essential across the boards is really good training. Really, really looking at what the situations could be and how do you approach them and getting good training and good supervision and it’s it’s constantly retraining. I I one thing I would say is that the the element of shame will affect both of those populations. It shows up in different ways you’re right that in one section they don’t have to worry about going home and not having food, and they probably don’t have to worry about a place to live unless.

Jacob Barr :

Parents are threatening throw them out, which is usually on the South side they might not. They may just be here without even a place to stay and yeah, what if they’re homeless that’s another luggage piece, right? That’s weighing down on them, right?

Joan Boydell :

So that’s that’s particularly difficult and it’s hard for most of the people who are doing, volunteering or working in a pregnancy centre are not under those personal pressures themselves. So how do you cross the bridge to help someone who’s in that situation?

Jacob Barr :

Yeah, I do think it’s good when people feel like they’re they’re being heard and known. And so by just simply being there to listen to all of their suitcases, is is a way to start perhaps.

Joan Boydell :

We underestimate the power of listening and that that’s the biggest key. If we can listen, we have a course at Care net we call Connecting Conversations and it’s helping to go deeper into the understanding of how. You listen and empathize with somebody so that you can feel what they’re feeling and that breaks it open for the other person. It doesn’t solve everything it doesn’t, you know, it’s not like waving a magic wand, but it it’s the key that begins to open the the process. And of course, you know, our desire is to share the love of Jesus with people with permission, not not pushing our agenda but. Showing them the love of God through our actions, through our deeds, through our words, and with our supported by our prayers. That’s huge.

Jacob Barr :

My my favorite verse in the Bible is James fifteen six currently that’s my favorite verse. And it goes. Confess, confess your sins one to another so that you you may be healed. And the prayers of a righteous man availeth much and and if I was to paraphrase it I would I would say the prayers of a righteous woman or man availeth much and but I would say that you know sharing stories and then asking for prayer. I think it provides healing out, you know, beyond traditional sins it also provides healing I think for hardships and and then and so I think that invite people to share and that invites people to find healing and it invites people to seek the experience of sharing and healing because if it can work for sin, it can work for, you know, hardships. And I I think that makes that seems very reasonable. And so that’s that’s beautiful and I think that maybe that’s a really important way to look because yeah. And maybe that verse does speak to sharing and speaking things out and then asking for prayer through hard situations.

Joan Boydell :

You know, I I was reflecting with a couple of directors this morning, even that there used to be a time when if a woman in the church became pregnant, she was often brought before the board of elders, sometimes had to confess to the whole church her sin and how damaging that could be. Because in fact, the man involved usually didn’t have to speak up at all, and some people were asked to leave churches because of that.

Jacob Barr :

God said we’re all sinners and he doesn’t say OK, this kind of saying.

Joan Boydell :

You go over there and the rest of us are OK that’s not the way he’s he’s speaking with huge love and compassion.

Jacob Barr :

Yeah, I I think it works well when it’s a small group of trusted of people you trust and who care, truly care and love you then to speak and share and ask for prayer is is safe and it’s not a safe place it’s not marking you with a large A, it’s essentially it’s asking God for healing with people you would consider family outside of your normal, you know, your church, family or or yeah, good friends, trusted friends.

Joan Boydell :

And that’s what I think pregnancy centers are full of. People who are have that compassion have that call in their lives to be there for people in this difficult situation.

Jacob Barr :

So yeah and I think it’s really good that it is a plot this you know the self-care idea you know for the director and and the Princess Clinic team of of staff and volunteers and the medical team. You know that’s it’s just it’s good because we want we we’re in this for the long run this is not a you know we’re you know in 50 years women you know unless Jesus comes back women will still be needing help with unplanned pregnancies you know when Roe versus Wade gets overturned unplanned pregnancies will still need to be addressed and helped. You know, women and men will be, you know, will need help then just like today, just like in you know 20 years ago this. And so we want to make sure that we’re taking good care of of people serving because we need to grow our group not have it, you know, have burnout or or just you know shrink based off of people having turnover because they came, they became overwhelmed because they couldn’t help with all the luggage but we just want to help with one piece at a time.

Joan Boydell :

Right and some centers actually provide for sabbaticals for their directors after a number of years to give them. Whether it’s a couple of weeks or a month or even longer, to move away from the center in a sense of refreshing themselves, doing something that’s going to be restorative to them. And we can do that with our volunteers too, Occasionally celebrating things, celebrating events, having small retreats that are refreshing and fun as well as instructive in order to encourage the whole staff.

Jacob Barr :

How would you speak to having like the full armor of God on and maybe still needing rest and and recovery even with the armor of God and also speak maybe to like the importance of the armor of God in this situation?

Joan Boydell :

Well, I think there are all kinds of things that come into attack this work because it’s the enemy is not happy with the pregnancy centers and pregnancy work so the instruction of Scripture to have the full armor of God is exceedingly important. And we go through the pieces and, you know, just see that each one is of value. But the as I’ve understood it in the past, the armor is on because you’re moving forward into the work, not moving backwards and you’re not turning your back to run. Self-care isn’t turning your back to run. Self-care is shoring up the defenses and refreshing the spirit so that you can keep moving.

Jacob Barr :

Forward yeah and I think they pair well together i don’t think it’s a matter of, you know, without the armor of God, self-care you know, you get so much quicker, very, very quickly but with the armor of God, I still think self-care and rest, because I think God often calls us in the rest. And that’s part of, you know, part of the message of the Bible is to find rest in Jesus, rest in God, you know, give our burdens to him. There’s lots of REST messages and I think that pairs really well with going into battle and then finding rest afterwards. Yes, so you can return to battle when needed. And so that’s part of, I think that’s part of the calling.

Joan Boydell :

Well, I really appreciate your time and I hope that you’re.

Jacob Barr :

Welcome before we wrap this up though. Who would you say your book is really helpful to when it comes to the audience?

Joan Boydell :

Like is this made for executive directors and counselors and volunteers who are talking to women and dealing with the shame, peace and their This is the the primary target of the book their primary audiences, those who work and caregiving to others, primarily in the pregnancy center, but in other situations in life, too. By sharing our own stories, by being vulnerable ourselves and understanding the kind of pressure that’s on the people who are hurting, I think that’s the key and that was my desire.

Jacob Barr :

Awesome and this podcast is primarily for executive directors and their teams and people who are interested in the pro-life world or efforts And and so this will definitely speak to you know this book would be really helpful probably as something to encourage people who are experiencing difficulty trying to. They’re trying to fight the barbs of shame, those arrows of shame that are being shot. This would be a way to probably address and understand more about how to deal with those.

Joan Boydell :

If anybody wants more information about the book, they can go to my website which is.

Jacob Barr :

Let’s see, where is your website address? We need to look at the marketing materials here let’s see, it’s.

Joan Boydell :

It’s.

Jacob Barr :

Oh wait, it’s on this one.

Joan Boydell :

It’s www.lifespan dot.

Jacob Barr :

Centre My team worked on that i should. I was thinking it was a different website address and I should have known. Oh yes, can I? Yes. There’s one aspect of Jones book that’s really important for this subject. You know, as Jones, husband, and having had almost 56 years of married experience with her, I know a little bit about some of the challenges that caregiving people have. And as a person who has done a lot in his own career and life, I understand how important results are to me. And yet in this work of dealing with people and their needs, it’s sometimes we don’t get any clues about what the results of our efforts on their behalf have. So having to give up the comfort of knowing that such and such a person. Didn’t have an abortion, after all or have a person was able to resolve their family issues or their business issues. That can be hard, you say you know what’s the fruit of my labours? Every once in a while God gives us a few clues or evidences of how he’s used me and Joan in serving him and other people. But often we don’t get that kind of evidence we have to trust him. That he who has directed us to do a certain thing with our life have just been obedient to him.

Joan Boydell :

I was going to say it’s a matter of obedience and one illustration I used is that it’s like there are certain times when you’re called to get on the train and you ride for a distance and there are other people with you on the train, but at some stop you’re called to get off and other people get on and some people ride on. And so if we’re doing our part and following through with what we’re supposed to be doing in God’s eyes, it it that’s. But we don’t always know, is that person going to get on or off at the next stop and what impact have we had? And that’s as I look back, you know, there are lots of clients that I I know that some had their babies i know that some had abortions, But there are those that I don’t know about and I probably never will until the Lord shows me yeah.

Jacob Barr :

And it seems like the.

Joan Boydell :

You can rest in the fact that God’s in control and that you Yeah, if you’re listening to him, that’s the best you can do, right? right.