3 QUESTIONS ABOUT SELF-CARE by Jen Oshman for Core Christianity
Q: Is self-care wrong for the Christian?
A: The self-care industry is booming. Its messages are broadcast loudly across social media, pop culture, and every means of marketing. The refrain of our day is: Get away for some me time, have that latte or glass of wine, take that vacation, set aside time for just you. After all, you work hard. You deserve it. How can you love others if you don’t first love yourself?
Modern pressures and pace of life have us all weary. But Christians rightly wonder if the self-care industry is for them. Something seems a little off. It’s true, we’re tired too. Followers of Christ need rest and rejuvenation just like everyone else. The refrain, though, seems self-focused. Is it sinful?
Self-care includes actions taken to preserve and protect one’s physical, mental, and emotional health. It’s anything you or I do to make sure that we are well—mind, body, and soul. This often includes eating a healthy diet, getting good sleep, exercising, taking time to get away and rest, pursuing means of personal growth, and really any creative means of pursuing wellness in one’s life.
The very short answer is, no, self-care is not wrong for the Christian. We, like everyone else, are finite, limited creatures who need care to survive. The Bible tells us repeatedly that our flesh is like grass and we will wither (Isa. 40:6–7, 1 Peter 1:24, Job 14:2, Ps. 102:1, Ps. 103:15, James 1:10). It’s a fact of life that we must provide daily care for our limited bodies. But the way in which we do that, as followers of Jesus, will be distinct.
Q: How is Christian self-care unique and distinct?
A: Self-care for the Christian must be fundamentally distinct from self-care found in the world.
First, Christian self-care is founded on the principle of stewardship. Followers of Jesus acknowledge that we are not our own, our bodies belong to the Lord, and we are called to honor him with them (1 Cor. 6:19–20). We rightly believe that our life and breath and everything else is from the hand of God (Acts 17:25). Above all, self-care for the Christian is an act of stewarding our bodies and lives on behalf of our Maker. Christian self-care seeks to tend to what God has created, to honor him above all by protecting what he has made.