Spiritual Care: The Foundation of Self-Care

Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
Philippians 2:4 (ESV)
I have stacks all over my house. Stacks of laundry. Stacks of dishes. Stacks of bills. Everywhere. Every. Where. I’m not the only one, right? I bet you have something that has piled up in your house, too.

We are busy women. Whether we are married or single, working or staying at home with kids – we. are. busy. Cooking, cleaning, laundry (oh, so much laundry!), taxi-ing the kids to activities, helping with homework, finishing that report for the boss, and preparing for church fill our days. The to-do list is miles long, the clock is ticking later into the evening, and the stacks seem to be growing.

When our head hits the pillow, it is quite possibly the first time we have paused all day. Then, after a few hours of chasing sleep through competing thoughts of tasks we want to remember for tomorrow, we do it all over again.

We make sure everyone else has what they need, everyone except ourselves.

But here’s the deal, if we don’t take care of ourselves, we cannot care for others.
We cannot continue at a frantic pace without stopping to take time to refill and refuel. We must make self-care a priority.

Self-care as the world defines it should not be our goal. God-centered care is not self-focused, but rather it is caring for ourselves to enable us to nurture others.


Self-Centered Care vs. God-Centered Care

If our sole focus is only on our own needs, we have missed the mark. We don’t care for ourselves to be self-centered; we care for ourselves to be God-centered.

Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Philippians 2:4 (ESV)

Do you see the most important word of this verse? It is a tiny word, only four letters, also. But, the term also shows God has already assumed we are caring for ourselves, and therefore, we should also care for others.

God never intended us to be self-centered, only focused inwardly; instead, He expects us to also focus on others.

As nurturers by nature, we can feel guilty and even question if it is wrong to take time out for ourselves. Yet, we can find that even Jesus took time away from the disciples.

But Jesus Himself would often slip away to the wilderness and pray. Luke 5:16 (NASB)

However, if we are paying attention to our individual needs for the express purpose of being self-indulgent, we are missing God’s expectations.

Our sole purpose of refueling, refreshing is to be ready to give. God-centered care begins when we replenish our spirit first.

Rest and self-care are so important. When you take time to replenish your spirit, it allows you to serve others from the overflow. You cannot serve from an empty vessel. – E.B.


Spiritual Care: The Foundation of Self-Care

Are you trying to fill the emptiness and exhaustion with physical and emotional food only? If we aren’t refilling spiritually, then we aren’t genuinely fulfilling our exhaustion. Instead, we are simply masking it for a time, and as soon as the activity is over, we will still feel weary inside.

Feeding and nurturing our spirit is the foundation of overall health. However, true refreshing comes from time spent alone – with God.

Jesus knew the importance of spending time away from the noise and rush. Remember our verse from above: But Jesus Himself would often slip away to the wilderness and pray. Luke 5:16 (NASB)

Notice the use of often in this verse. Jesus made it a regular part of His routine to pull away from the demands on His time to get alone with God in prayer and be recharged, refilled, ready to pour back out in service to those in need.

We must make God-centered self-care a priority, which is not easy for busy women. It requires being intentional to set aside time, scheduling an appointment with God, and keeping it. Even when it seems we don’t have time, we must acknowledge scheduling a break for ourselves is important because we are valuable. Not just to the people who need us, but God also treasures us.

Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?
1 Corinthians 6:19 (ESV)

We are valuable, so valuable His Spirit chooses to dwell in us; therefore, shouldn’t we take care of the place where God’s Spirit abides?

As Christ lives in us and guides us to serve others, we must be healthy in all facets of our lives – spiritually, physically, emotionally, mentally, and yes, even financially – ready in whatever way He calls us to serve.

Let’s be women who embrace caring for ourselves so we can embrace caring for others.
Lord, when we struggle to see the importance of taking time for ourselves, remind us Your spirit lives within us. Remind us to care for the vessel in which You have chosen to dwell. Help us to set aside time to sit in Your presence to refuel and refill so we may serve others as You have called us to do. May our focus always be on You, Jesus. Give us the wisdom to know when to press pause, care for our own needs, and when to move in love toward others. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Blessings Soul Friends,

Stephanie


Further Study

Christ gave us examples of how we should live our lives. In Scripture, there are several places where He took time away from the disciples to get alone with His heavenly Father.  

Read Mark 1:35 –
Why do you think Jesus made it a point to rise early? Is it essential to you personally to rise early and spend time with God? Why or Why not?

Read Mark 6:45-46 –
What can you learn from Jesus about setting boundaries in these verses? Are there times when you need to set boundaries so you can spend time with God? Write out how you can create some space in your schedule so you can care for yourself.

Read Luke 4:42 –
Jesus had a plan – and He stuck with it even though the people followed Him and made demands of His time. As a busy woman, does this sound familiar? We intend to stick to our plans, but the kids, boss, etc., keeps trying to invade that space of time.  

Let’s be women who make a plan for self-care and stick to it! Get out your calendar right now. Set a regular appointment on your calendar to spend time with God.

  1. Next, make a note of where you will meet – a specific room in your house, a walking trail in a nearby park, a special place that makes you feel at peace. Get creative; find a place that inspires you to keep your appointment. Wherever that place is, mark it on your calendar.
  2. Now, if you used the calendar on your phone, click on the alert and set it. Just like Jesus was interrupted in His time, you will be too, so go ahead and set that alert.
  3. Finally, set to repeat daily. Remember, Jesus made it a habit to slip away and spend time in prayer, and we, too, should make it a habit.
Stephanie K Adams is the founding Director of Real Women Ministries, where she equips women with resources for Bible Study and prayer. She is passionate about helping women find time for God’s Word in the midst of their busy lives. Stephanie is a Board Certified Advanced Christian Life Coach and author of In the Shadow of the Cross: Following Jesus Through His Last Days and is a contributing author to Bearing Fruit: Living Rooted in Christ
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