I recently came across the idea that as Christians we should be wary about the terminology self-care in the essence that this new “trend” is promoting self instead of God.
Anything in it’s extreme is dangerous. Self-care could be misinterpreted as self-indulgence. It seems that every product tagline these days ends with, “You deserve it!”. While caving into your every hearts’ desire is cautioned against, so is the opposite extreme.
There are an overwhelming amount of people who go in the direction of self-loathing. Just because the Christian philosophy of life doesn’t follow the “You deserve it!” slogan, it doesn’t mean we follow its opposite, “You are worthless!”
The Bible itself is a pep talk saying “You can do it!”. Remember this one? “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13
Did you miss it the first time?
Self-care doesn’t mean self-obsession or self-deprecation but simply taking care of yourself.
How do I know that as Christians this is what Jesus wants for us? Because He modeled it himself!
5 WAYS JESUS MODELED SELF-CARE IN THE NEW TESTAMENT:
1. BUILDING COMMUNITY
Life is not meant to be lived on our own, but to be daily encouraged by one another. Jesus learned at a young age to find community–people who could help guide and encourage him in his life.
When he was a boy, his parents left him behind when they traveled back to their hometown from Jerusalem. Upon returning, “they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions.” (Luke 2:46) He sought out the wisdom of others.
He also cultivated friendships (remember the 12 Apostles?) and didn’t tackle his ministry on his own. They looked out for each other, encouraged and provided for one another.
2. PRACTICING GRATITUDE
Gratitude is a practice, not a character trait. Jesus made a practice of being thankful. It was part of his everyday behavior.
“Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish.” John 6:11
He often spoke on gratitude as a remedy to worry in addition to being a source of encouragement for many.
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can anyone of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” Matthew 6:25-27
3. TAKING TIME TO EAT AND REST
The glorification of busy is leading to burn out, mental illness and more divorces. Even Jesus rested and advised others to rest after big events and in preparation for them. Are you resting?
“The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, ‘Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.’ So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place.” Mark 6:30-32
4. DAILY PRAYER
Most importantly, prayer was a staple of Jesus’ self-care practice. If Jesus prayed, how much more do we need to?
“But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” Luke 5:16
“Immediately Jesus made his disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd. After leaving them, he went up on a mountainside to pray. Later that night, the boat was in the middle of the lake, and he was alone on land.” Mark 6:45-47
5. MEMORIZING SCRIPTURE
To know God better, you need to learn his character. Prayer is our chance to talk to Him, but how do we know what He’s saying back to us? When we meditate on scripture, break it down, study it, apply it, we can hear more clearly what God’s calling us to do.
Scripture can be an encourager, a motivator, a guide, a counselor, and a tool. Jesus quoted the Old Testament wherever he went. Obviously, he had done some studying. Jesus based his replies on scripture every time Satan challenged him!
“Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, ‘If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.’ Jesus answered, ‘It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” Matthew 4:1-4
TAKE THE CHALLENGE!
Still feeling selfish trying to make time for yourself?
Don’t misunderstand: Self-care isn’t an excuse to be selfish, it is a tool for self-reflection.
Integrate self-care into your life naturally! Did Jesus have Meditation Monday and Solitude Sunday? Of course not, he wove all of these aspects of his life together. When he finished preaching, he would rest and eat a big meal. When he was overwhelmed, he retreated to pray alone.
In short, start small–just check in with yourself daily. Sit and eat, don’t multitask! Set a regular bedtime for yourself and wake up early to have a moment for yourself.
BEFORE YOU GO…
Leave a comment and tell me which area you want to focus on in your self-care challenge.
Then read up on the previous posts in this series:
- Choosing a Bible That’s Right For You
- Understanding the Basic Timeline of the Old Testament
- Navigating the Events of the New Testament
- Five Ways Jesus Practiced Self-Care
- Creating a Bible Note-Taking System That Works For You
- How to Navigate the Bible as a “Self-Help” Resource
- Why Memorizing Scripture Doesn’t Have to be Hard and Why You Need To Do It
- Discovering Your Spiritual Gifts and How to Use Them
- Designing Your Spiritual Goals
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You’ve got this!