I’ve come across people where their whole roles are to be protectors for others. The mindset of a protector is to ensure the safety and well-being of those he cares for. The protector is concerned about making sure his loved ones are not hurting, and, if they are, he will focus on bringing those loved ones to a place of peace as soon as possible. The protector is the one who eats last, always opens the door for others, makes sure that others are served first and offers the TV remote to others. The protector will rarely cry, and, if he does, he cries because the one he cares for is crying. The protector lives by the phrase, “As long as so-and-so is ok, then I’m ok.” Many of us have protectors in our lives; most of us welcome protectors in our lives; some of us are protectors in others’ lives. As a pastor and husband, I think I somewhat understand and identify with the protector mentality. A shepherd frequently focuses on the needs of his flock and a husband always loves his wife above himself. I’m sure many of us who are parents, spouses, best-friends and siblings can identify with the “protector” role. But the protector’s mantra is not always true, that when others are okay then the protector is okay.
Protectors easily neglect themselves. Their self-neglect is not out of depression, but out of their focus on others’ well-being. Protecting others doesn’t ensure that the one doing the protecting has been cared for. Sometimes the needs of others are so great and numerous that the protector sees himself as having little option but to focus on the needs of his loved ones – there’s, in a sense, no room or time for the protector to look after himself. His first priority is to look after those he cares for. And a protector would rarely admit needing protecting. But while protectors may not need protecting, they do need comforting from time to time. Receiving comfort allows for the protector to admit to being human – a protector is not Superman, even though we take on the role of Superman. Protectors should and need to allow themselves to be human and allow for space and others to offer them comfort. The comfort is for the nurturing and healing of their own souls. And mostly likely, protectors accumulate more wounds through the trials and strife than they realize because they’ve been too busy focusing on defending and taking care of others. Comfort is the compassion God offers the weary and worn (2 Corinthians 1:3-11). The practical protector may still say that there’s no time for him to be cared for. But the comfort and care the protector receives will enable him to be a better protector for others. Protectors do burn out. What every protector needs, especially to be an effective protector of others, is to know the comfort and compassion of God that nourishes and sustains those who are not Superman but take on the roles of Superman.