It’s a common saying, “You need to take better care of yourself?” Or “Exercise a little self-care and you will feel better.” But I find many people are unable to do this, or are uncomfortable with the idea–either they feel there is too much emphasis on the self or that self-care is a selfish focus.
For insight, let’s look at the life of Jesus while on earth. While He was fully God, He was also fully man and had a physical body to care for while completing his ministry. Friend and Fuller professor, Siang- Yang Tan offers this, “In the midst of his busy ministry, meeting the needs of many people, Jesus regularly took time off to be in solitude and to pray, to be in communion with the Father by the power of the Holy Spirit (Matt 14:23; 26:36; Mark 1:35; 6:46; 14:32; Luke 5:16; 6:12; 22:41; John 17:1; Heb 5:7).
Jesus stayed strong by exercising self-care in the middle of his ministry life. He understood the importance of rest and time alone with the Father. Professor Tan (2003) suggests these self-care strategies modeled and given to us by Christ:
1) Abide in Christ (John 15:5). Jesus said, I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. The vine is Jesus and we are the branches. The more connected and dependent we are on Christ, the more fruit we bear.
2) Surrender all to Him. Make Him Lord of your life. Surrender brings focus to our lives. It puts all our efforts into seeking God and allowing Him to guide us. That focus takes us away from our selfish desires.
3) Take time for solitude and silence-in today’s busy world, this is often difficult but necessary to recharge. Even Jesus rested! Yet, rest is difficult for so many of us because of our lack of practice being quiet and listening. To be still and know is a a practiced skill of rest and silence.
4) Simplify your life as much as possible. This will lessen your stress. When we lose the clutter and remove the distractions, our focus on the things of God will improve and give direction but also bring peace.
5) Keep the Sabbath. Most of us are guilty of not resting on one day of the week yet this in one of the ten commandments. Dedicating a day to rest and relax rejuvenates the body, mind and spirit.
6) Be in a spiritual community. Surround yourself with this who will encourage you, pray with you and be there for difficult times. We are made for relationships and will be revitalized by healthy Christian relationships. Self-care includes building a community of believers with whom to do life.
7) Work on stress management from a biblical perspective. This means you approach stress from a position of love and humility, not competition and pride. Contemplative prayer, quiet meditation, deep breathing, renewing the mind daily, humor and other stress management skills help. His promise its to keep us in perfect peace if we keep our mind stayed on him.
At times, God calls us to sacrifice our time, be good stewards of His gifts and talents and perhaps even suffer. We may get “out of balance” in the terms of a secular view. Ultimately,we trust in God’s sovereignty. It is God’s care for us that matters most.