I once saw a picture of my father-in-law when he was in his twenties. 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.
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 week long revivals or "gospel meetings." He said that if he preached on a Sunday morning, then he might stay busy all afternoon (as opposed to resting). Then before he preached that evening, feeling exhausted, he would drink a couple of cups of coffee. 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 living in this twenty-first century. 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.
We 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"?