When I hear the words “self-care,” I often think about how I can help others take better care of themselves. This isn’t a bad thing because shepherding people, families, and teenagers is what we do. However, it’s also my responsibility to take care of myself and the well-being of my own family. We want to help others and point people to Jesus every chance that we get. With the use of great technology, we can be available 24 hours a day and seven days a week. If we are not careful with our time, energy, and resources, we can run ourselves ragged. It feels great to be needed and called upon as a leader, but leadership in ministry is a marathon, not a sprint. It’s okay to stop, pause, take a day off—a REAL day off, and make sure you are taking care of yourself. You will be able to serve the kingdom of God better when you are at your best.
Notice that it doesn’t say guard someone else’s heart; it says to guard your heart. When the pace of ministry picks up, so does my stress level. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing because I want to plan and prepare well. I want people to feel encouraged and ready to serve. I want to do ministry with excellence, but I can’t do that when my tank is empty. I can’t give what I don’t have. How have you been guarding your heart lately?
Instead of trying to dig deeper and work harder, perhaps the next thing you want do is take a step back and relax. It doesn’t need to be a two-week vacation but maybe a couple of minutes, a few hours, or one day. Turn off your phone, go for a walk, or play outside with your kids. You could workout, draw, paint or even take photos of nature. Do something fun! All of these things can be done with your family, friends, or by yourself. This will help you feel better, destress, and get back to work with a fresh perspective. You might also have the motivation you’ve been wanting.
Ministry is a marathon, not a sprint. Your church needs you now, but they also need you next year and the year after that. Your family needs you now, but they also need you at your kids’ soccer game, band concert, and graduation. Don’t burnout trying to do everything in a rush. You won’t be able to do it all, and no one should expect that of you. Take care of yourself and “above all else, guard your heart.”