6 Practical Steps to Implement REAL Self-Care
We’ve been looking at what the Bible has to teach us about self-care. Over the past three weeks we’ve learned that Jesus demonstrated self-care by making a habit of spending time alone with His Father, and by intentionally developing other spiritual disciplines. We learned that as members of the body of Christ, good self-care will include our whole body – the church. Finally, last week we learned that making time to rest is not only good self-care, but is commanded by God Himself. We also learned that there is really only one Source for true rest – Jesus Christ. This week, let’s wrap this series up by nailing down some solid, practical steps we can all take in order to implement some good, Biblical self-care. Let’s commit to making each step a regular part of our lives.
On a more personal note, God has shown me over the past few years how important it is that I be intentional about the care of my soul. It is not selfish to make the cultivation and nurture of my relationship with Him a priority. Those things take time. Time that might otherwise be spent caring for and nurturing others. The enemy may attempt to make me feel guilty about that, but soul-care (TRUE self-care) is good and healthy. There is no room for shame or guilt there. It’s a tough lesson for me to learn, but following these steps has helped me so much. I pray He will use them in your life as well.
Step One – Stay Humble and Alert
1 Peter 5:6-9 – So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God and at the right time He will lift you up in honor. Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares about you. Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your family of believers all over the world is going through the same kind of suffering you are. In His kindness God called you to share in His eternal glory by means of Christ Jesus. So after you have suffered a little while, He will restore, support, and strengthen you, and He will place you on a firm foundation. All power to Him forever! Amen.
Too often we believe the power to solve our problems lies within ourselves. It doesn’t. Our great enemy is prowling around, waiting for the best moment to pounce, incapacitate, and devour us, and one weapon he uses against us is our own pride! I am utterly powerless to forge my own destiny. So are you. I believe Scripture makes it clear that putting our faith in ourselves is one of the enemy’s go-to tactics to keep us stuck in our hopelessness. It is imperative to our well-being that we stay alert!I believe Scripture makes it clear that putting our faith in ourselves is one of the enemy's go-to tactics to keep us stuck in our hopelessness. It is imperative to our well-being that we stay alert! Click To Tweet
The answers are, in fact, not found with-in ourselves. Rather, the REAL solutions can be found in humility. It is when I come to God understanding I NEED Him that I’ll find help. It’s when I hand all my worries and cares over to Him that I will find peace. In His time, and in His way, He will restore, support, and strengthen me. He’ll put my feet on a firm foundation. And He’ll do the same for you, and for the whole family of believers around the world suffering in the same ways we are.
Let’s take a moment to humbly admit to God that we cannot take care of ourselves. Let’s take this first step by telling Him how much we need Him. Let’s dump all our worries and cares at His feet. Now, let’s trust that He cares deeply about each issue, because He cares deeply about us, and believe that He WILL handle it.
Step Two – Pray About Everything and Keep Your Mind Focused on Truth
Philippians 4:6-8 – Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.
This is a big step! I’ve found the darker my circumstances become, the more imperative it is that I pray constantly, and use every ounce of will I can muster to keep my thoughts focused on God and His Word.
When I find myself in perplexing situations, my flesh wants to dwell on the fears and delve deeper into the darkness. Can you relate? My mind seems to want to make a crisis into an even bigger deal than it really is. I convince myself that by thinking about it, I’m “figuring it out,” but that’s rarely the truth. Besides, we’ve already established I don’t need to figure it out. I need to let God figure it out for me.
That’s tough, but the very best way to do it, is to refuse to participate in the inner-dialogues that pull us down into a pit of lies and half-truths, and drown us in worry. The fact is, those thoughts are almost never fixed in reality. They are exaggerated. We fill in the gaps of what we don’t know with worst-case scenarios, and then convince ourselves they’re true. Before we know what happened, we’re paralyzed by what we’ve convinced ourselves is an impossible situation.
The thing is, God doesn’t need to fill in any gaps. He sees the whole picture. He has all the information. He never gets sick of us, and He delights in our prayers. So let’s pour out our souls to Him. Let’s pray about every. Single. Thing. Let’s tell Him what we need and then remember to think about what He’s done and thank Him for it. Let’s fixate our thoughts on what is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and worthy of praise! Let’s memorize verses that encourage us and repeat them again and again. Let’s sing songs that praise our Lord. Let’s spend time thanking God for each of His wonderful attributes, focusing on His greatness! In other words, let’s take a step to put God at the center of our minds!
Step Three – Live with Intention Under the Leading of the Holy Spirit
Ephesians 5:15-20 – So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do. Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Sirit, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts. And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.
We’ve been convinced by popular psychology that when things get tough, what we need is to escape. To find time to self-medicate the pain by running away. Friends, this is another well-disguised trap of the enemy! Be alert! Not once does God tell us in Scripture to pretend our problems don’t exist. On the contrary, the Bible calls us to live lives of intention.
Sisters, we are not fools that have no hope. We are dearly loved daughters of the High King of Heaven! We don’t need to numb the pain of this life by escaping, but to seek the Lord’s will through the power of the Holy Spirit who lives WITHIN us!As the dearly loved daughters of the High King of Heaven, we don't need to numb our pain by escaping, but to seek the Lord's will through the Holy Spirit. Click To Tweet
Step Four – Seek Godly Wisdom & Accept the Lord’s Discipline.
Proverbs 3:5-13-Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not depend on your own understanding. Seek His will in all you do, and He will show you which path to take. Don’t be impressed with your own wisdom. Instead, fear the Lord and turn away from evil. Then you will have healing for your body and strength for your bones.Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the best part of everything you produce. Then He will fill your barns with grain, and your vats will overflow with good wine.
My child, don’t reject the Lord’s discipline, and don’t be upset when He corrects you. For the Lord corrects those He loves, just as a father corrects a child in whom He delights. Joyful is the person who finds wisdom, the one who gains understanding.
James 1:5 – If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and He will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.
Life is so confusing! Isn’t it? And once again, our intuition tells us to trust ourselves. To trust our “gut.” But, as before, the Bible tells us the opposite. It says, “Do NOT depend on your own understanding.” Instead, we’re called to seek God’s will in everything we do. To trust Him with all our hearts. To accept His discipline and understand that it comes as a result of His deep love for us. We’re called to search out and find wisdom, and to let it govern our decisions. How? By simply asking for it.
This promise in James is one of the most straight-forward guarantees in the Bible. Let’s take God at His word! We all need wisdom. We all need help figuring out where to go and what to do next. Let’s ask Him. Our generous God will not rebuke us, and has promised to give us the wisdom we seek, as long as our faith is solely in Him. (See the warning that comes in context with James 1.)
Let’s stop spending all our time reading every self-help book we can get our hands on, and start spending some time reading the only self-help book that has ALL the answers.
Step Five – Live in Community and Accept Godly Council
Exodus 18:14-27 – When Moses’ father-in-law saw all that Moses was doing for the people, he asked, “What are you really accomplishing here? Why are you trying to do all this alone while everyone stands around you from morning till evening?” …
“This is not good!” Moses’ father-in-law exclaimed. “You’re going to wear yourself out – and the people too. This job is too heavy a burden for you to handle all by yourself. Now listen to me, and let me give you a word of advice…
Moses listened to his father-in-law’s advice and followed his suggestions. He chose capable men from all over Israel and appointed them as leaders over the people…
Moses sets a great example in this passage from Exodus. One we should pay attention to and try to emulate if we want to practice good self-care. Like so many of us, Moses had bitten off more than he could chew. He was trying to manage the role to which God had called him all by himself. Though his intentions were good, his execution lacked clarity of vision, and he was sinking. What he needed was someone who cared, both about him, and about pleasing God to point out his error and offer a wise solution.
Are we any different? We all need to surround ourselves with people who love us, and who love God, because none of us are meant to figure this all out on our own. Let’s decide today to find a source for true, godly council. Let’s listen to what they say, and do our best to apply the wisdom God gives them to our lives. Just like Moses.
*One word of caution: Godly council will ALWAYS line up with scripture. There isn’t anything wrong with asking for help from other believers, in fact, it’s a good thing. But we must be careful and diligent to be sure the council is truly godly. Check it against the Word of God. If it holds, listen. If not, throw it out. The Bible comes first!
Step Six– Remember that Real Self-Care is all about Him, and it is VITAL!
I hope you’ve enjoyed this series on self-care. I’ve certainly enjoyed writing it. God taught me so much about what it really means to take care of myself. Firstly, by teaching me that it really IS important. He taught me that there is no honor in neglecting the well-being of my heart, which is essentially me. Care for that part of who I am is absolutely vital!
Proverbs 4:23 – Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.
But more than that, He re-assured me that while there isn’t a single thing wrong with the more traditional self-care practices, taking time to indulge myself in pleasure is never going to solve any of my problems. If my hope is in that, I will be disappointed every time.
Isaiah 26: 3 – You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in You, all whose thoughts are fixed on You!
What WILL solve my problems is an unshakable faith in Almighty God. Every single step listed above boils down to this one truth: It’s all about Him! When life turns upside down, He is the only answer. When life is going great, He is the only answer. No matter what… He. Is. The. ONLY. Answer!
Romans 14:7-8 – For we don’t live for ourselves or die for ourselves. If we live, it’s to honor the Lord. And if we die, it’s to honor the Lord. So whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.
When I live my life in the calm assurance that He’s going to take care of me, I find peace. When I put my efforts into drawing closer to Him, He’ll supply all my needs. When I seek Him with all my heart, He’ll grant me wisdom and show me which path to take.
REAL, Biblical self-care is simply this – Trust God. Daily, intentionally, actively, trust God.
Philippians 4:19 – And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from His glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.
*How about you? How have you practiced Biblical self-care, and how did it help you? What have been your thoughts or feelings about self-care in the past, and has reading some of these thoughts about what the Bible says changed your mind at all?