Now that the winter is fading and spring is here, the weather is starting to be more pleasurable for working on self-care, especially since we can include outdoor activities. This time of year is a great opportunity to begin developing your plans or setting goals for how you will revitalize your health. I wanted to check in to see how things are going with your taking care of yourself (clergy and family). I thought this blog post would simply be about encouraging families of the clergy to begin shifting into gear for a summer of doing extra activities that might lead to a whole, healthier, and balanced life.
I have mentioned several times in other blog posts how important self-care is for pastors and their families because they are the ones who often selflessly care for others. Clergy and their families spend so such time with others that it is wise to re-evaluate how much time they can carve out of their schedules to give themselves the same kind of attention.
The Bible says in 3 John 1:2, “Dear friend, I pray that you enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well” (NIV). John was praying that all would be well for Gaius, both in career and the health of his body, just as his soul was prospering. John’s prayer shows that he was considerate of the wholeness of Gaius. He was aware that a healthy body and soul would lead to better service for the Lord. Therefore, Christians who are successful in their careers and in maintenance of their bodies, as well as growing spiritually, can do a great work for God. Continuous spiritual growth, along with keeping the whole body healthy as you participate in ministry, allows you to offer yourself more in service to God.
When the clergy family fails to take care of themselves, they are most vulnerable to running the health of their bodies into destruction. And if the clergy family is down, how can they be available to help others? So, I particularly want to reiterate this point of taking care of yourselves as pastor and family. Self-care is a very important activity for the preservation of your health that strengthens your life to serve others for God.
My prayer is that many of you are putting together special plans for how you are going to give care to yourselves. You may want to start exercising two to three times a week and add more days later. It is important to set a modest goal to get started. It is always good to eat a healthy diet rich in colorful fruits and vegetables. The more time that is spent resting and relaxing, the more clarity it will bring for any challenge you will face in making your lives healthier. Vacations are good for that. Please check to see that you have vacation time planned and on your calendar. Even spending time with your family and friends, building solid relationships is good for your health.
Now that the bad weather is over, it is a good time to walk, hike, jog, bike, swim, etc. Many outdoor activities are available in the spring and summer that are not available during the winter. Just like spring cleaning, taking time to get your doctor’s check-up—which includes visiting your optometrist, dentist, and other health professionals—will help you know which activities are appropriate for you and ensure you are in good, solid, and sound health.
The most important and the best way to start your plans for self-care is to take time to cultivate a deeper relationship with God who will give you the emotional and physical strength to achieve everything you set out to do for your care. Making time for meditation, prayer, Scripture reading, and devotional time is absolutely necessary. Don’t forget to enhance your knowledge of the world around you with art, drama, plays, movies, and literature.
Whatever plans or goals you set for this summer concerning self-care, know that they all are worthwhile and will be very beneficial for you. Don’t allow anything to block you from being a healthier, happier, stronger, and more vibrant vessel for God. I encourage you to move forward and execute your plans. Remember it is your responsibility to give yourself the care you need, no one else will do it for you.
I encourage you to find an accountability partner or an accountability group. Many people have found it very difficult to be consistent with self-care by themselves. Accountability to a friend or group has demonstrated great success in self-care improvement. Taking charge of your life will influence those you care for to be motivated to take charge of their own lives as well.
So here’s to a great summer of activities, events, and healthy eating that could shape how you take care of your life for years to come. I encourage you with 3 John 1:2 again, “Dear friend, I pray that you enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well” (NIV).
Have a great summer!
Dr. Joyce Scott Thomas is the Associate Director of the Academy of Preaching and Celebration.
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