We are terrible at taking care of ourselves.
We live in a society in which it is a badge of honor to be busy– to not have a second to breathe. It makes us feel like we are important people who have important things to do, and it looks impressive to everyone else. We are commended when we live by the motto: “I’ll sleep when I’m dead.”
If you are an involved church-goer, it gets even crazy-er. We all know those church folks who are involved in all the things (maybe YOU are that person!). Being involved in one’s church is a good thing. But the over-achievers who are there every second of every day are heading towards burn-out and resentment of the Church.
Being so busy means that we are unable to take care of ourselves. God calls us to care for God’s creation– us. Jesus calls us to care for our bodies (check out 1 Corinthians 6:19-20), but caring for ourselves is so much more than that. We are unable to serve others and show Christ’s love to others when we have our own unresolved issues.
Jesus says in Matthew 7:3-5:
Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye? Or how can you say to your neighbor, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ while the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor’s eye.
The modern-day equivalent to Jesus’ example would be the safety instructions during air travel. In the event that the cabin becomes de-pressurized, oxygen masks descend from above the passengers’ heads. We are instructed to secure our own oxygen masks before helping others put on theirs.
The reason for this is simple– we are unable to fully help others when able-bodied folks cannot see (log) or breathe (oxygen mask). Jesus wants us to take care of our own stuff before we serve and help others with their stuff.
Taking care of ourselves is not selfish. It enables us to be better followers of Jesus. We are better able to answer God’s call to spread the good news of Jesus and serve others when we are healthy ourselves.
Christian minimalism is a way to cut through the clutter and prioritize care of oneself. When we are so busy that we shortchange taking care of ourselves, we are not only hurting ourselves. We are hurting those who we are trying to serve because we aren’t able to serve them fully and completely.
Imagine what it would be like to try to take out a speck in someone’s eye while you have a huge log in your own eye. You won’t be very effective (and could potentially hurt the other person) if you can’t see what you’re doing.
Imagine what it would be like to try to put on someone else’s oxygen mask before your own. If you are unable to breathe, chances are you’d pass out and succumb to oxygen deprivation before securing your loved one’s mask. Then both of you are unable to breathe.
We need all our energy and well-being to do God’s work in the world. With God’s help, we can focus on what we can work on in ourselves, so that we can be the best followers of Jesus possible.
What is God calling you to work on in yourself so you can best serve others in God’s kingdom?