Too often in ministry, we give and give and give of ourselves to the point that we have nothing left to give. In ministry with young adults, we want to be there to listen, to offer wisdom, to eat a meal, to work out together, and so much more. Typically, we are good about boundaries and keeping time for those people in our inner circles. We also make time for the Lord when we pray, read the Bible, journal, worship, and fast. We are good at making time for the necessary things and people.
However, do we make time for ourselves? I have a friend who will call every now and then and ask, “So, how are you taking care of you?” It’s an uncomfortable question because, typically, those of us in ministry prefer to take care of others first. Nevertheless, it is a needed and necessary question. By taking care of ourselves, we can actually love others better.
Therefore, the question for each of us becomes, “How are you taking care of yourself?”
Do you take time for your favorite hobby—to read a book that has no immediate application to ministry or to just sit and enjoy a movie or conversation? I get it. None of us have a lot of extra time, and self-care can seem selfish. But, if we don’t take care of ourselves, who will? To properly give to those around us, we must make time for ourselves.
Personally, I found that registering for a half-marathon race means I’ll create the time to train. Finding an hour in my routine to sit in a fancy coffee shop makes me stop and breathe before rushing to the next meeting. Even buying a paint-by-number-Monet can cause me to be a little more creative for a few minutes in a day. (I’m not a painter, but anyone can fill in the lines and then feel greatly accomplished when you see the final product!)
Each of us must find what makes us breathe a little deeper and pause in the craziness of ministry life. What makes you laugh? What stimulates your creativity? What makes you a happier person to be around? Hear me out: time with the Lord is a must, and time to be refreshed through God’s Word must happen for each of us. So, what can we do in addition to that for a few minutes or a few hours each week to take care of ourselves? Some possible options could be:
- Build something with your hands.
- Get in a good workout.
- Go to a ball game.
- Paint something.
- Play your favorite instrument.
- Put your feet in the sand at the beach.
- Read a book.
- Ride your bike.
- Spend time in the kitchen for fun.
- Take a class.
The challenge I face when my friend calls is to evaluate if I have actually taken time to do some of these things—not just getting by with good intentions but actually practicing self-care. This is just one way to love those around us: choosing to love ourselves as well.
Dr. Beth Masters works with college students at Mississippi College where she is the Director of Christian Life and Ministries. She also serves as a Ministry-Based Faculty member at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary in the area of Collegiate Ministry. Beth loves young adults, baking, and coffee.