I had a revelation in February during a retreat for pastors on resiliency—I really don’t take good care of myself. I have let the concerns/work of the church guide how I spend my time and energy. On one hand, it’s good for me to not be a lazy pastor. It’s important to keep the energy moving for the people of God. The problem is that I allowed that to be my excuse for not taking care of my spiritual, emotional and physical well being. Since the retreat, I have begun to go to the gym three times a week, I’m actually taking my day off more regularly, doing one fun activity a week, and I’m trying to eat better. All these decisions I make are founded on the importance of prioritizing the ministry and my self-care. As I practice honoring the priorities, I find myself spending more time praying and enjoying my relationship with God.
I like this GIF because it highlights the importance of motivation for self-care…albeit in a humorous fashion. There are some who think that self-care is all about the self…taking time to pamper oneself. I think self-care is more about soul-care…taking time to make one’s soul a priority, for the work of the kingdom is hard work. If we aren’t careful we can burn ourselves out. Ministries, families, children, work and school can take their toll and if we aren’t paying attention, our relationship with God can be found on the bottom of the list.
Moses was working himself to the bone, attempting to handle the ministry to the Israelites. His son-in-law cautioned him, “You will only wear yourself out. The work is too heavy…you cannot handle it alone.” (Exodus 18:18). Moses was challenged to delegate the ministry…to share the load. Moses received a lesson in self-care. We don’t have to do it all by ourselves. It’s okay to take time to soul-care and invite others to participate in bearing the load.
Last week, I was attending another conference and I was reminded of another important aspect of my ministry—to model for the community whatever it is that I am called to teach/lead. I haven’t modeled well the spiritual practice of self-care to the community these past two years. And I don’t model well if I don’t share with you my struggles and the ways I’m trying to work on my deepening relationship with God. So today I hope I have offered you a challenge that you can join me in: Make self-care (soul-care) a priority!