Clergy “self-care” is a big topic of conversation within my professional circles these days. Research suggests that clergy are among the least healthy populations in this country. We have a much higher rate of heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and depression. Recently I heard someone trying to make a connection about how it is important to take care of the basics in order to be strong to help others. The person said it is like in an airplane when we are instructed to first put on your own oxygen mask and then help your children and others around you. That way you won’t pass out trying to help others.
Jesus spoke of loving your neighbor as yourself. In order to do that, you do need to love yourself. For some, it is hard to love yourself. Maybe that feels too “self-centered” or selfish. And there are certainly ways we can be self-centered or selfish. But to love oneself means to accept your life as a gift from God and to be a good “steward” of that gift. In order to live our life in service of that which is greater than you – God – each of us need to do those things which enhance the life force within us. We need the basics, like healthy food, a good amount of rest, meaningful work, positive relationships, etc. We also need to take time to nourish our spirit through prayer, reflection, writing, creating, reading, and sharing ourselves. Love God. Love neighbor. Love self.