“Like many, I’m exhausted. My wife and I are working three jobs. We have four little kids at home. We are homeschooling them. We’re trying to make decisions about their education this semester. I don’t know how to rest and get refreshed with kids at home. I desperately need the Holy Spirit to minister to me and refresh me. I’m not sure how to receive it. I’ve been pouring my heart out to Jesus and He has not yet shown me an answer. I know He will. I just feel broken in the meantime. I need Christ to rescue me and my family.”
This is just one of the many posts in our private Facebook group for pastors, The Pastors Ally. Pastors and their families are experiencing exhaustion. They are physically, emotionally, and spiritually tired. I recently saw a woman wearing a t-shirt that said, “100% Tired.” That perfectly describes the lives of the pastors we are talking to every week.
The stresses and demands of ministry have been compounded by a viral pandemic. Every area of our lives has been affected.
These added stressors take a toll on our lives. This is why it is so important to practice “self-care.”
What is “Self-Care”?
Self-Care is the practice of caring for your own well-being. Among other things it means that you are prioritizing and performing certain actions that will improve your own physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health.
Why “Self-Care” isn’t Selfish
As followers of Jesus Christ, we are regularly told to “deny ourselves.” Indeed, we should deny our selfish and sinful leanings, but “self-care” is not selfish. It is essentially taking care of your own health so you can continue to take care of others.
I have a friend who was in the Coast Guard. When he was about to become the captain of his own boat, he was taken out by an experienced captain and “shown the ropes.” After weeks of training, the experienced captain said to my friend, “Never put your own boat in jeopardy. If you put your boat in jeopardy then you cease being a rescuer and you become the one in need of rescue.”
Did you get that? “Never put your own boat in jeopardy.”
How can You Practice Self-Care?
Self-care is the time you set aside to recover, renew, recharge, and recalibrate, so you can perform to the best of your ability. When you neglect self-care it leads to a condition that is similar to drawing water from a dry well or running on empty. You are depleted of necessary energy and motivation. Everything becomes a chore.
Here’s a practical list of suggestions to help you practice self-care:
- Calendar your time off and use it regularly. You need time to unplug from responsibilities and recharge.
- Schedule time for face to face meetings. In-person meetings bring a different dynamic to human relationships. There is something about the “in-person” meeting that recharges us.
- Plan healthy meals. During times of extended stress, we all need to replenish our bodies. Healthy meals go a long way towards helping us recover from stress.
- Establish a sleep time routine. When life is disrupted, it can also disrupt our sleep patterns. A good night of sleep will help you be refreshed and renewed. It is a great stress reliever.
- Find a way to serve others. The happiest people I know are the ones who serve others regularly. This act alone can be a source of fresh energy and encouragement.
- Do something you enjoy. Hobbies, sports, new adventures, half-day vacations, exploring new areas of your community, going out to eat at a new restaurant, playing games with your family and kids, reading a good book, or spending time with a close friend…all these activities are good for the soul and are included in self-care.
- Exercise regularly. Movement of any kind is valuable for self-care. Walking, biking, swimming, hiking, camping, etc.
- Spend some extra time alone with God. Let Him minister to the deepest needs of your soul.
It’s not selfish to take care of yourself. It’s the best thing you can do to ensure long-term viability in life and ministry.
Pastors, you don’t have to do this alone. Reach out to us at careforpastors.org.