I once saw a picture of my father-in-law when he was in his twenties. He was standing next to another minister. He looked overweight and uncomfortable. His skin seemed to be a pasty white and puffy. He did not look healthy or fit at all.
Years later he reflected on those days and told me of his lifestyle. He got virtually no exercise. He hurried from one town to the next to preach weeklong revivals. If he preached on a Sunday morning, then he might stay busy all afternoon visiting with people in the congregation or town (as opposed to resting). Then before he preached that evening, feeling exhausted, he would drink several cups of coffee. He once said, “Looking back, I would have been much more effective if I had rested on those Sunday afternoons. Perhaps I could have taken a walk or gone running.”
My father-in-law had health difficulties for many years. These problems began while he was in his early thirties and continued throughout much of his life. He believed that his lifestyle as a young minister contributed to some of his early medical problems. Later, he wisely lived a more balanced and healthy life. He gently encouraged me to do the same.
Leaders who are lifelong learners learn to live a balanced and healthy life. Some leaders take care of their minds. They discipline themselves to read and think. Yet, at the same time, some of these same people get no exercise, practice no discipline in their eating, etc. Such neglect is not balanced or healthy.
Self-care is incredibly important for all men and women. Self-care is to recognize that the creator God has given me my physical, emotional, intellectual, and relational self. He has called me to care for what he has created. I care for my body as a part of my stewardship before him. Self-care is not selfishness. Rather, it is to recognize that caring for the self is actually a blessing to others.
* Self-care is to recognize that I bless others in the body of Christ by nurturing and caring for my own walk with the Lord.
* Self-care is to take care of my physical body. To care for what God has given me that I might serve him fully throughout the days of my life on this earth.
* Self-care is to pay attention to my emotional self. How many people have ignored their emotional fatigue only to use some very poor judgment regarding an ethical or moral decision?
* Self-care is to understand that I need relationships. I need friends. Something is wrong when I manage to eventually burn bridges with most everyone to whom I get close. Something is wrong when emotionally I wall myself off from people.
Think about the instructions given by flight attendants every time we fly. Suppose you are flying with children when the cabin pressure drops and the oxygen masks appear. What does the flight attendant say? Put your mask on first. Then, put a mask on your children. You are in a better position to help your children if you have first practiced self-care.