If you were raised in Sunday School like I was, chances are you’ve encountered this acronym sometime in your childhood:
Put Jesus first, then serve others, and finally think of yourself. Supposedly this brings JOY. I get the point that’s trying to be made— don’t be self-centered; life is generally better when we’re considering others and serving. But does this mean we only get the fumes in the tank after spending all of our fuel on serving our families, churches, and communities?
Let’s look at Matthew 22:36-40 (NIV).
“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
Clearly we’re on the right track with putting Jesus first (it’s the first and greatest commandment). But it goes on to say that loving ourselves is equal to loving others. It might look more like this:
Others – You
Self care is about being a good steward of our resources. God gives us each time, energy, and gifts. If we are wise about investing those, we will be able to continue serving Him for a long time. But if we overextend ourselves and deplete those resources, we’ll burn out.
If we’re approaching it correctly, self care will be about getting our priorities right and putting God first. It’s not about indulging ourselves, it’s about taking care of ourselves so we have the resources to care for and serve others.
As Christians, we have a great opportunity to see self care in a different light than non-believers. Instead of just being about taking care of our bodies or doing things that are fun for us, we can view self care as putting value on our lives. As God’s children, we are special and wonderfully made, and taking care of ourselves is a way to honor Him.
Self-care for Christians is deeper than just tending to our physical and emotional needs– it involves spending relational time with the Lord, which helps us understand our value and worth according to His view of us. Out of that mindset, we can move forward according to His purpose and plan for our lives.
To read more about self care, including lots of practical ideas that you can start implementing right now, check out my ebook here.