Mick’s Memo – Self-Care

At the risk of falling into cultural rationalization of self-obsession, I believe self-care is a legitimate concern for Jesus’ followers. The interdependence of the church is a clear teaching of the “body” metaphor we have been exploring in our current series of message.  Interdependence means that we are dependent on God individually and as a community of faith, as well as we are interdependent on one another. If we are depleted physically and emotionally, if we are spiritually depleted or ill equipped or if the key relationships in our life are in constant turmoil, our ability to contribute to the “common good” will be impaired.  Like the instructions given when you ride in an airplane, we need to “put on our oxygen mask” so that we will be well enough to help any child traveling with us.

What can we do to guard our own health so that we can respond to the needs God may want us to address?  First, since the church is a spiritual entity, we need to take steps to sustain our personal spiritual growth.  Our connection with God emerges from basic habits of prayer, Scripture reading and study, and regular fellowship with believing friends.  Prioritizing responsibilities with home and family are foundational to God’s people (Deut. 6:4-7) and sustaining intergenerational faith. Reconciling conflict (to the degree we can) with others, whether at home, church, work or in the community is a valuable part of self-care.  Unresolved conflict is demotivating and draining.  While we can become obsessed with it, physical health is foundational to serving the Lord.  Our bodies need ample rest, good nutrition, exercise, and good hygiene.  Our minds need godly stimulation and creative recreation.  We need purpose and development.  We experience fulfillment and joy when we are engaged in a purpose that fits with God’s design and bears fruit we can observe.  That fulfillment and joy is contagious!  We need self-care if we are to be able to provide God’s care to others. There will undoubtedly be times when we persevere through fatigue to meet an emergent need.  But it should be the exception rather than the pattern.

We are living in the most technologically advanced, wealthy and connected age ever. We are greeted with new toys and experiences every day, promising to be the “missing” part of our experience.  Chasing these illusions often result in cascading exhaustion.  The Psalmist wrote “Be still and know that I am God…” Psalm 46:10.  Mark recorded an incident when Jesus and the disciples were caught in a storm on Galilee…He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. “Be still” is a hard command for me to obey.  But frenzied activity, without a sense of God’s presence, is a recipe for disconnected ineffectiveness.  Let’s try it together—be still and sense God’s presence.  Be still and trust that He is able to bring us through the storms.  It’s hard to be God’s instrument to take care of others if we never take care of self.

Remember to turn your clocks ahead this weekend!