All through seminary, self-care was shoved on us. Even after seminary when meeting with any clergy, self-care was shoved on us. Even though I’ve only been in solo full-time ministry for two plus years, I know self-care is important and absolutely necessary to our health as leaders and as congregants to God’s church.
I find myself constantly checking in on my own self-care practices, but also I find myself checking in on my congregants, especially my leaders. Some of my leaders are really good at self-care, others are not good at it. Some of my congregants don’t even think about it, while others are pure examples of piety.
Self-care is not just about your spiritual life.
Often when those words are put out there, I fear and feel people think only of how often they’re reading the scriptures, praying, piously down on their knees humbly asking God for forgiveness. But it’s not just about that.
Self-care is about our whole selves.
That means we need to eat right. It means we need to exercise (yes, even you 100 year olds out there). We need to take care of our finances, our family, our relationships with each other, with our spouses and children, with our God. It’s all bundled up into two simple hyphenated words: self-care.
That makes this a difficult topic because it’s so well-rounded, but it also makes it an intentional topic. Self-care is necessary. Sometimes we just need a break. Sometimes we need to head out into the woods and go for a very long walk and not see anyone until after the sun sets.
But we also need to avoid those times when we become so overwhelmed that we need to just cut everything else out for awhile. That’s where regular practices of self-care come into play. It means that yes, you need to be doing something spiritually for yourself each and every day. It means you need to be keeping yourself on track with your eating habits and exercise habits.
It may seem overwhelming right now, when you’re thinking about everything that you’re not doing. It did for me. But if you take one small thing, commit to changing that here and now, then you will see and reap the benefits in the time to come. It may not show up right away, but it certainly will make a huge difference.
I’ve only been blogging for a month and a half now, and already I feel so much more connected to the scriptures. I feel smarter because I can actually name chapter and verse (on some things). I feel more centered in God.
I’ve only been working out each day since the beginning of December. Already I have more energy and I don’t struggle to wake up each morning even with a baby at home. Already I feel energized to come into work and enjoy the tasks I have to do.
I’ve only been eating better (not all right) for about two weeks now. Already I know I’ve lost weight and inches. I can move easier and I can physically keep up with the demands of my job and my family.
These are small simple changes I took, day to day, and already they have made a world of difference. I know if I keep them up, if I keep adding new changes to my life, if I keep thinking about what God would want me to do to best honor our relationship, then I know the possibilities in this life are limitless.