Self-Care is a Gift to Another

I once saw a picture of my father-in-law when he was in his 20s. He was standing next to another minister. He looked overweight and uncomfortable. His skin seemed to be a pasty white. He did not look healthy or fit at all.self-care.jpg

Years later he reflected on those years and told me of his lifestyle. He got virtually no exercise. He hurried from one town to the next to preach weeklong revivals or “gospel meetings.” He said that if he preached on a Sunday morning he might stay busy all afternoon (as opposed to resting). Then feeling exhausted, he would drink a couple of cups of coffee before preaching that evening. He once said, “Looking back, I would have been much more effective if I had rested that afternoon. Maybe taken a walk or jogged.”

My father-in-law had health difficulties for many years. Early on he had problems with his colon. In later years he had heart problems as well as cancer and Parkinson’s. He believed that the earlier lifestyle contributed to some of his colon problems in particular. In later years, he wisely lived a more balanced and healthy lifestyle. In many ways (usually subtle encouragement), he encouraged me to do the same.

Self-care is incredibly important for men and women. Self-care is to recognize that the creator God has given me my physical, emotional, intellectual, and relational self and has called me to care for his creation. I do so as a part of my stewardship before him. Self-care is not selfishness. Rather, it is to recognize that caring for the self is actually a blessing to others.

  • Self-care is to recognize that I bless others in the body of Christ by nurturing and caring for my own walk with the Lord.
  • Self-care is to take care of my physical body. To care for what God has given me that I might serve him fully throughout the days of my life on this earth.
  • Self-care is to pay attention to my emotional self. How many people have ignored their emotional fatigue only to use some very poor judgment regarding an ethical or moral decision?
  • Self-care is to understand that I need relationships. I need friends. Something is wrong whenever I manage to burn bridges with most everyone I get close to. Something is wrong when I wall myself off from people.

I could go on and on. Think about the instructions given by flight attendants every time we fly. Suppose you are flying with children. The cabin pressure drops and the oxygen masks appear. What does the flight attendant say? Put yours on first. Then put a mask on your children. You are in a better position to help your children if you have first practiced self-care.


How are you doing with self-care? Is there one particular area of your life in which you are tempted to “let go”?


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4 thoughts on “Self-Care is a Gift to Another

  1. In addition to exercise and sabbath, I keep a piano in my office. God uses this piano to take care of me. If I am exhausted, confused, or stuck in any other sort of way. I leave my desk and play my piano for five minutes. I do this at least once a day. The music is good for my soul (aka right brain) and the standing is good for reducing my chances of a pulmonary embolism.

    • Benjamin, this is a great example of doing something totally different during the day in order to provide refreshment, nurture, and the opportunity to use a different part of the brain. Thanks so much.

  2. This is an Amazing message.. and to hear it from a Pastor is even more amazing! Being in the fitness industry, I see first hand what the lack of self care does to people. Most of the ailments we see out there are preventable! Thank you for reminding us that we are indeed multifaceted beings. Which means, there has to be care in all aspects, Spiritual, Mental, and Physical. How are we to be the ‘salt’ of the earth.. if we can hardly move, or emotionally instable to speak with people with different beliefs? I think Christians often mistake self denial with self neglect. But as I recall.. aren’t our bodies a ‘temple’ of God? Therefore shouldn’t we treat it as so and take care of it, inside and out?

    On a side note.. I went to a fitness convention recently. One of the key note speaker mentioned a Northwestern Study that “found young adults who frequently attended religious activities were far more likely to become obese than those who didn’t.” So he said that churches today are not only sending people to heaven.. but they’re sending them early… Something to think about.

    Thank you again for this post Jim.. what an important message it is.

  3. Monica,
    I like what you are saying. In particular, I like what you say regarding self-denial and self-neglect. You’ve make a great point. In fact, there is nothing godly about neglecting the self. In fact, it is one expression of stewardship–managing what was created by God and given to us to use and care for.

    As you noted, we really are multifaceted people. No need for compartmentalization. My body can impact my moods and even my thinking. My mind can really impact the way I feel emotionally. As a result, we really do need to care for the whole person and not just a few dimensions.

    Thanks Monica.