Redeeming Self-Care

(This post was originally published on the Baptist Convention of New England’s blog on May 9, 2022. You can find it here.)

Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don’t be impressed with yourself. Don’t compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life.

Galatians 6:4-5, MSG

Meditate on this short but meaty passage long enough, and you might notice that Paul’s charge is nearly impossible to carry out from a place of survival mode. A certain level of self-care is required to complete this grand kingdom expectation.

Self-care? Oh, no. Here comes a lot of nonsense about wearing fuzzy socks and doing facials because life is hard and we deserve it, right? Not at all. As believers, we are called by the God who shaped us to steward ourselves well—not because we need to treat ourselves, but because our mission is too crucial to approach with anything less than a full tank. A soldier fighting to keep his head above water won’t prove much of a threat to the enemy.

In case you’re emerging from a season of just trying to make it through the day, now is a phenomenal time to take inventory. The more clearly you can see yourself in this moment, the easier and more efficient getting help should be. 

Let’s consider the four areas of personhood, aspects with which Jesus says we can love the Lord our God: heart, soul, mind, and strength. In each of these categories, try to gauge your current state on a scale from one (awful) to ten (amazing). No need to pretend here: because of Christ, we have nothing to fear, nothing to lose, nothing to hide, and nothing to prove. These are simply opportunities to bring either our thanks or our requests to the Father’s smiling presence.

We’ll start out with emotional self-care—taking time for hobbies, processing difficult situations and feelings, cultivating joy, handling stress well, fostering life-giving friendships, making peace with the past, etc. How healthy is your heart? 

Next is spiritual self-care. This includes things like pursuing intimacy with the Lord, practicing regular Sabbath rhythms, prioritizing spiritual disciplines, growing in the gospel, receiving discipleship, participating in gracious accountability, etc. How healthy is your soul?

When it comes to intellectual self-care (investing in personal development, dwelling on what is true/honorable/just/pure/lovely/commendable/excellent, learning new things, making the most of your personality and wiring, tending a fruitful thought life, etc.), how healthy is your mind?

Last up is physical self-care. (Think along the lines of getting regular exercise, nurturing healthy sleep habits, eating nutritious meals, valuing maintenance appointments, staying well hydrated, balancing essential vitamins, enjoying intimacy with your spouse, etc.) How healthy is your body?

Despite self-care’s unfortunate hijacking and cheapening caused by the world, there is a profound gospel facet to the concept: God’s people are to be whole and holy. So strengthen the weak areas with the help of the Spirit, even as you revel in what He’s already made strong. When you operate from a state of overflow rather than from survival mode, you’re better positioned to do your creative best in sinking deep into the work you’ve been given—work that matters for eternity. 

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