This question of self-care is one that I have actually been working on this year personally. In my circle of friends, I’m usually the Giver. I'm the one many have learned to lean on and the one who encourages everyone when they’re going through hard times. I’m the one who takes people in and invites a friend over for ice cream and zombie movies if she’s had a rough week. Can you relate to being that friend in your social circle?
When you’re the Giver, it's hard to know sometimes where and when to draw the line and put yourself first. After being in the regular habit of always caring for others, it can be a real challenge trying to figure out how to care for yourself.
Yes, the Bible tells us that God and others should come first, that we should strive to serve and provide for others' needs. 1 Peter 4:10 tells us, "Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms." If you have the gift of hospitality, use it! If you have the gift of teaching, use it. The author of Acts explains why he gave to others: " In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive'" (Acts 20:35).
Speaking of Jesus, Matthew 20:28 says that "even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." Does this mean that we should always put others first and forget about ever taking care of ourselves? Not at all!
Let's take another note from Jesus' life example in Luke 5. Take a moment to read that chapter, then come back to this article. (Go on, read it!) Right there in the middle of Jesus serving others and being there for everyone, as "crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses" (v. 15), we are told that "Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed" (v. 16). Jesus practiced self-care!
What? Jesus went off to be by Himself? Why is that? Didn't people still need Him at that time? Yes, they did, but Jesus knew that He couldn't go on 24/7. In a human body, He couldn't perform like a non-stop robot. (And neither can we!) He went away because He knew that He needed time to refresh, recharge, and reconnect with His Father. (And so do we!) These self-care actions helped Him so that He would have the strength to continue serving others.
Jesus realized that it is important to take care of ourselves—even in the midst of taking care of everyone else. It's OK to go off and be by ourselves to pray, to refresh ourselves, to recharge our energy, taking strength from the Lord (Psalm 28:7; Philippians 4:13). Psalm 18:2 says that God is "my rock, my fortress and my deliverer" as well as the one "in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold."
I hope that this has encouraged you as a Giver! Remember, it's definitely OK to set aside others' needs for a time and take time for yourself to rest and practice self-care. We don't want to stay there, lest we become selfishly guarded about our own time and energies and forget how to give back. But it's certainly not wrong to take a break from serving others for a while if need it.
Yes, the Bible tells us that God and others should come first, that we should strive to serve and provide for others' needs (1 Peter 4:10). However, even Jesus knew that human beings can't keep pushing on 24/7 without rest (Luke 5:15-16). He knew that He needed time to refresh, recharge, and reconnect with His Father so He would have strength to continue serving others (Psalm 28:7; Philippians 4:13; Psalm 18:2). Only if we ourselves are healthy and strong, will we be able to serve others well.
Cat is the web producer and editor of 412teens.org. She loves audiobooks, feeding the people she cares about, and using Christmas lights to illuminate a room. When Catiana is not writing, cooking, or drawing, she enjoys spending time with her two teenage kids, five socially-awkward cats, and her amazing friend-amily.