apple_1.jpgI 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"? 

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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21 thoughts on “Self-Care

  1. The hardest area for me is diet and exercise.  I do well for a period of time, then get lazy and "let go" for awhile.  I just have trouble being consistent with it.  And, as you said, I can tell that I feel better and am more effective in caring for others when I do take the time to care for myself.  So, why is this something with which I continue to have so much difficulty?! I feel like, by this age, I should be better than I am.  Oh, well, at least I keep trying!  (Love the picture today, btw!)

  2. i have been told my doctors I need to exercise, I eat fairly healthy, have made changes in last couple of years, but exercise is the hardest to initiate.I need all the reminders/encouragement I can get…. 

  3. I met Charles Coil in the elevator at UAB Hospital.  He was there for an appointment and I was there visiting a couple of my members who were having surgery.  He grab me by the shoulders and said he had just received a disappointing report and strongly urged me to take care of my body by eating right and exercising 3 days a week.  It really stuck with me, because his eyes were filled with tears.  I don’t think he wanted what happened to him to happen to anybody else, especially those who are making a kingdom impact.  Great reminder! 

  4. Jim I can honestly say that one of my weakest areas is "caring" for myself.  I recently joined the gym and started running and lifting weights.  I need it … and I need to be reminded that this is spiritually important.  Thank you. Bobby Valentine 

  5. I have struggled with the same….going from fit and trim in H.S. to a gradually worsening diet and virtually no exercise until I got diagnosed with Diabetes just after Thanksgiving.  I have no started my "clearing the temple" stage of my life.  Yes, I have had good success in the exercise/diet aspect – but the real benefits have been spiritual.  I have felt more connected to God in many ways during this time….and supported in amazing ways by my kids and wife.  It has been a wonderful addition to my journey….

  6. Connie,I’m sure that lots of people could echo you exact words.  Your line–"…by this age should be better than I am" is one I could say regarding other issues.

  7. George,Thanks for this story regarding Charles Coil.  (He was my father-in-law who I referred to in the post)  I remember those years of him going to UAB for various health difficulties.  I’m glad he had this conversation with you.I appreciate you. 

  8. Bobby,I think a lot of people could echo your words.Congratulations on joining the gym and beginning some sort of exercise.  At times I have found it difficult to continue.  However, it has done wonders for helping me deal with stress and tension. I appreciate you.  

  9. Jim, I have to admit I can be very sloppy here myself. Though by default I do partake quite a bit in my wife’s good eating (since she’s the chief "cook", really the only one here).
    I think what you say is important and oft neglected. And I like the point you make about our own soul care so as to impact for good Christ’s Body.

  10. Thanks for the reminder of self care.  I’m such a couch potato!  At 54, I need one of those new outlooks on life.  Taking better care of myself including rest, exercise, and eating right is good advice.  Thanks, Jim.

  11. George,May God bless you in a fuller pursuit of self-care. I commend you for recognizing this.   Thanks George.