Martyr syndrome is a common issue among women. I have seen it among church people for many years.
Martyr syndrome or victim complex can be classified as a person who uses self-sacrifice and suffering to control their environment. They are masking the real issues of the heart, unwilling to deal with themselves and grow in spiritual formation, and instead hiding behind a mask of serving.
Martyr syndrome is self-destructive, and directly opposed to biblical maturity as a Christian.
We all want to serve our families and our fellow man. We may be concerned that if we say no, we will not be helping others.
God made us as helpers. It is part of our calling as women.
Remember that the word ‘helper’ (the Hebrew word is ‘ezer’) used in terms of Eve’s relationship with her husband in Genesis 2:18, is the same word used of God as Israel’s helper in Exodus 18:4, and of God as our helper in Psalm 20:2 and many other scriptures.
Psalm 121: 2 declares, “My help (ezer) comes from the Lord”.
Helping others is not a lowly occupation, but one God values highly!
Yet, we must know what help to give and where to give it, in order to function effectively as Christians.
Some women are good at saying no, and stating their boundaries with family and others, but many women do not know how to do this. This is particularly difficult for a person who is a server by gifting and personality. The problem is they keep saying yes in order to please others and end up with resentment in their hearts and ‘feeling used’.
- Are you frequently berating yourself and feeling sorry for yourself when you help others or when they reject your help?
- Do you find yourself thinking ‘poor me, don’t they know how hard I am working’?
You may have martyr syndrome!
It is misguided to think you are the only one who can meet everyone’s needs and always be there for others. In fact, you are acting like God.
7 Ways you can change martyr misery into masterful maturity
- Decide what is important for you to take care of. What are your chief life responsibilities in God’s eyes? If you are wife and mother, those vocations are important for YOU to take care of. Is your work taking over the rest of life?
- Take care of your responsibilities first with joy before you agree to take on other duties.
- See yourself as a really valuable human being in God’s sight whether you give of yourself to a situation or not.
- If you say yes, do so willingly, of your own accord and resolve to have a positive attitude towards the task and the people involved.
- Give prayer to the issue and ask God to reveal your heart to you and enable you by grace to walk free of being a victim.
- Learn how to say ‘no’ graciously when you need to. Work out a strategy with a friend who knows your problem and keep to that strategy when you encounter the need to say no.
- Be accountable to someone who knows your difficulty and share with them your triumphs and failures, so you may grow.
Be a blessing, but do it God’s style.
In what ways have you found yourself acting like a martyr?