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Selfcare is not selfish, but I can see why people might think that. It kinda says it in the name and the whole notion of self-care has really become popular in secular, humanistic thought. However, the concept of tending to your mental, spiritual, emotional, social and physical needs is founded in the Bible and like many other Biblical concepts, it’s been distorted.
Self-care has been found to be a core building block for surviving and thriving in ministry and we are going to outline what self-care is and how it doesn’t have to take a lot of time, energy or money to do.
A research study was done in 2013 on what makes those serving in ministry resilient. 73 pastors representing 26 states met 3 times a year for 6 years. Their conversations were transcribed into 12 thousand pages that all centered around one question.
“What does it take to survive and thrive in pastoral ministry?
They came up with 5 primary themes. Four of them are what you would expect; spiritual formation, emotional and cultural intelligence, healthy marriage and family, and strong leadership and management skills. However; the 5th theme being self-care seemed almost out of place. But, the study determined that self-care was necessary to developing a resilient and fruitful ministry.
They identified that self-care involves a pastor taking time to tend to their spiritual, emotional, physical, social, and mental needs and it was necessary for a pastor to thrive.
This isn’t necessarily new information. We have heard countless times that to be healthy and avoid burnout we need to exercise, eat well, get good sleep and have some downtime. But if all you think of is vacations, green smoothies and going to spin class when you hear self-care then I’m not surprised that self-care is moved to the bottom of your to-do list.
All of these things take time, money and a lot of effort. They become just one more thing on the already very long list of things “I should” be doing. And oftentimes we have mindsets or beliefs that deter us from actually doing self-care. Beliefs like self-care is selfish. But Self-care is all about accepting the love of God as His children.
We are to find rest, joy, peace and love in God and out of that overflow of love we are able to serve and care for others.
In 2 Tim. 4:6 Paul describes serving as being poured out as a drink. Caregiving and offering empathy to others is giving of ourselves and it’s self-care or tending to those spiritual, emotional, physical, social, and mental needs that fill us back up.
These things don’t need to be expensive, time-consuming or take a lot of energy. If it doesn’t rejuvenate you and strengthen your relationship with Christ then it’s probably not self-care.
Self-care can be as simple as using your commute to intentionally transition from work to home. Or it can be taking a professional development course, or even just eating lunch with real food at lunchtime at a real table, not in a meeting.
Self-care is could be developing a bedtime routine to allow for better sleep and even adjusting your notifications on your devices so you’re not being distracted at every ping and beep.
Selfcare is an intentional action that tends to your spiritual, emotional, physical, social, and mental needs and aligns with Philippians 4:8 where it says:
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, and commendable if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”
If the word self-care is difficult for you because it suggests selfishness. Feel free to use the name soul-care, I don’t think the name matters as much as the concept.
The goal of self-care is to not indulge and fulfill selfish desires. But it is to live out the great commandment which implies that we are to love one another as we love ourselves. God wants us to be kind to ourselves and the results of that are being restored and refilled. We, in turn, become strengthened to give to others again.
Unfortunately, many Christian leaders treat the Great Commission of going and doing as though it trumps the greatest commandment of love.
I encourage you to think about one thing you can do each day that is simple, easy and free that would tend to those spiritual, emotional, physical, social, and mental needs.
To help I’ve created a check-list of ideas to get you started.
Click on the link below to ger your list of self-care ideas.