(Rustin Wilson ) #1

I was listening to one of the podcasts yesterday and I heard the concept of self-care and its legitimacy questioned. I’d like to hear this broken down a bit more. Whenever a term is used with self- as the prefix, it seems wise to examine if the concept is Biblical and rational. In a world which is obsessed with me, myself, & I, what is a Biblical approach to this concept?
On a simple level, I’ve heard it said that it is difficult if not impossible to lead someone else into a relationship with Christ if we do not have a relationship with Him. We could call that self-care if the term hadn’t been hijacked by self-obsessed people, who change the meaning of the term into worshiping the creature instead of the creator.
On a deeper note, where I first heard that term was in the context of vicarious trauma and caring for hurting individuals. It has been observed a human brain experiences a level of similar pain when caring for a person who is going through real pain. One trainer likened one’s need for self-care to the proper procedure of using oxygen masks on a flight with loss of cabin pressure. Passengers are instructed to put their own mask on first before assisting others who need help. At first this seems selfish. But on second thought, it would be more harmful if an altruistic individual would lose consciousness trying to help someone else if that could be taking care of their own need first.
So, first of all, what is our proper response to emotional fatigue, especially in caring for/about someone who is hurting, and is there a better term for us to use without the baggage?

(Melvin Greene) #2

That’s a great question, @RustinW. I also agree that whenever we see a term with the prefix “self” we need to look closely as to what it’s promoting.

I manage a group home for homeless male veterans and I also counsel them. The term “self-care” is used a lot. I have to counsel the residents to care for themselves to help combat depression and other mental health issues. Also, as a manager, I have to impress on my caseworkers to make sure they are caring for themselves. It’s very common for counselors and social workers to experience burn-out because of the emotional investment that is put into the clients. I have struggled with burn-out and I definitely see the importance in taking care of myself.

On the Biblical perspective, I think Jesus demonstrated the importance of taking care of yourself. Jesus would withdraw to remote places to talk with his Heavenly Father, and he led his disciples to do the same after ministering to people.

So, I believe self-care is a good thing, but just like everything else, it can be abused. We have to be careful to make sure self-help doesn’t turn into selfishness.