Let’s talk about self-care.
It can be a difficult subject, but I think it’s important to approach from a spiritual perspective – because how can we expect to do our best for God if we’re not taking care of ourselves? How can we give to others if we’re running on empty?
We find an example of this in Exodus 18. God used Moses to deliver the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt. Moses becomes the leader over millions of people, and he proves himself to be a willing leader. But he’s exhausted.
“When Moses’ father-in-law saw all that Moses was doing for the people, he asked, ‘What are you really accomplishing here? Why are you trying to do all this alone while everyone stands around you from morning till evening?'” (Exodus 18:14 NLT)
Moses replied by telling Jethro everything he did for the Israelites – judging their disputes, ministering to them and interceding on their behalf.
“‘This is not good!’ Moses’ father-in-law exclaimed. ‘You’re going to wear yourself out — and the people, too. This job is too heavy a burden for you to handle all by yourself.'” (Exodus 18:17-18)
When Jethro saw the burden Moses was carrying, he didn’t say, “Wow, you’re doing so much and handling it all so gracefully. If only everybody could be like you!” Nope. He said, “You’re doing too much. You need to take care of yourself so you can be the best leader to these people.”
He recognized that what Moses was doing wasn’t sustainable. He saw the potential for frustration, bitterness, weariness and doubt – those same feelings that occur when we get stressed and over-burdened. So, he advised Moses to delegate – to work in the areas best suited to his gifts and calling and to appoint others to do the rest.
This wasn’t a selfish move – it was wise. Moses had to acknowledge that he couldn’t do everything and that he didn’t have to. Not only would this benefit himself, it would benefit the people he led.
When we neglect to take care of ourselves physically, mentally or spiritually, we’re going to get overwhelmed. We can’t do it all. Instead, we must take purposeful steps to take care of ourselves in all aspects of our lives. Because when we nurture our souls and spirits, our physical and mental states will be nurtured, as well.
How do we do this from a spiritual perspective?
Spend time with God
Countless scriptures reflect on the necessity and value of spending time in God’s presence. This can be through prayer, meditation, worship or fasting. The point is that when we focus our attention on the One who sustains us, we draw life and strength from Him. He is the source that refreshes us so that we can nurture ourselves and then give to others.
“Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” (James 4:8 NLT)
“How lovely is Your tabernacle, O Lord of hosts! My soul longs, yes, even faints for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.” (Psalm 84:1-2 NKJV)
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7 NKJV)
Know when to say yes – and no
This step requires us to understand our limits. Too often we say yes to things when our hands are already full. These responsibilities and favors can all be good — but if you can’t fully commit yourself to them, or if you neglect your welfare to make time for them, then you won’t be giving your best. Know when you can’t do something and choose your yeses with purpose. If you don’t know what to say, ask God for wisdom to make the right decision.
“Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.” (Colossians 3:23 NLT)
“If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and He will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.” (James 1:5 NLT)
“…But let your yes be yes, and your no, no, lest you fall into judgment.” (James 5:12 NKJV)
Wait and rest
Sometimes, we simply need to wait, to pause and allow ourselves to reflect on what we’ve accomplished. God did this on the seventh day of creation, and he established the Sabbath so we would do the same. Rest – both physical and spiritual – is an invitation for restoration and rejuvenation. It creates an opportunity for God to instill dreams within us and to awaken a deeper thirst for Him.
“Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10)
“But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not grow weary, they shall walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:31)
“Come to me, all you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28 NLT)