Jul 5, 2021

Christ-Centered Self-Care: What It Is and What It Isn’t

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Self-care as believers is different. Because central to caring for yourself is surrendering (not elevation) of self. What the world (and the enemy) would have you believe is:


If you care for yourself enough, you can solve all your own problems. 

If you focus on yourself enough, you can become the person you want to be. 

If you spend enough time and money on yourself, you will be a happy person. 

If you guard your time enough, you won’t be tired anymore. 


We as people are naturally self-inclined to believe that we know best and we have the means to cultivate the best in our lives. It’s our sinful nature, is it not? In fact, the very first sin was committed under the guise that God was withholding something from humanity by forbidding Eve and Adam from eating from the Tree of Knowledge of good and evil. “The things God provided for you are not the best things,” said the serpent to Eve. “There is better, and it’s found where God told you not to go.” So, Eve trusted her own inclinations, was fueled by her own desire and believed it when the enemy spoke, “God did not give you enough.” 


And still, the enemy whispers, “God has not given you enough.” And we believe it. So we turn to self-indulgence rather than a surrender of self, and we wonder where we went wrong and why we are so physically tired, emotionally drained, and spiritually weary. We wonder why our sense of peace is unstable, our faith feels fragile, and our hope seems far away. 


Take it one step further to some more utter nonsense the enemy would like us to believe: “Not only is God withholding something from you, He is withholding the thing that would make you god of your own life. You don’t need Him. He is not enough. You are enough.” 


This. is. not. true. 


You are not enough. 


But Grace enters and says, “You are not enough, but you never had to be enough because Christ was enough on your behalf.”


With Christ at the center of everything we do, it re-frames our perspective about caring for ourselves. Our problems can only be reframed, our insecurities cast out, our sins conquered and our joy found in the presence of Jesus. 


Therefore, as we seek to draw attention to our personal needs for physical, emotional, and spiritual health, we do so in a posture of receiving from the Lord, knowing that His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence.” (2 Peter 1:3, ESV) In Jesus, we have been given all that we need. So, when we have ANY need, we must turn to Him, lest we be unsatisfied and unfulfilled. 

And here is the truth that I am coming to realize; it’s a hard pill to swallow when all I want is a nap and a cookie. 


If I am not nourishing my soul by abiding in the Lord, I am not taking care of myself.


If you are not nourishing your soul by abiding in the Lord, you are not taking care of yourself. 


And no amount of Netflix, Disney+, coffee runs, gym visits, naps, glasses of wine, bubble baths, vacations, goals met, things achieved, books read, games played, crafts made will do for your soul what abiding with the ONE WHO MADE YOUR SOUL will do. 


And I am not saying that all of those things are bad or are not restful and relaxing. I am not even saying these things are not healthy. My sister is a goal-setting expert and coaches people through goal-setting workshops (@thewhiteboardroom in case you wanted to know), so you will never hear me say that setting goals are a bad thing. Nor will I turn down an opportunity to nap or go on vacation or get a fancy latte. 


I’m just saying that these things will not give you strength or provide the rest you need to fight another battle against your flesh, the world, or the devil. There are countless examples in scripture where battle language is used. In Romans 8:37-39, we are called conquerors. 2 Corinthians 10:3-6 talks about the war we are waging and our weapons. 

Ephesians 6:12-20 lists our armor. 1 Timothy 6:12 and 2 Timothy 4:7 both reference life as a fight. In 2 Timothy 2:3-4, we are called soldiers. Why do soldiers rest? Why do they take the time to care for themselves? To strengthen their armor, sharpen their swords, and recuperate for the next fight. 


And I think that we will spend our whole Christain walk discovering more about what it means to abide in the Lord. At least that has been my experience. Sometimes it feels like a far-off concept that I cannot really grasp. And, truly, the thing I feel the Lord speak to me over and over again is how ironic it is that I try and figure these things out on my own, when the Lord is there and more than willing to help me practice and understand the things I don’t. So, I ask him to help me understand deeper every day what it means to fully surrender to Him and abide in Him. And there are practices I have learned that help me to abide in Him. Stay connected. Stay aware of His presence and His truth.


  1. Nourishing your soul with the Word of God.

Women of the Word by Jen Wilken is an amazing resource for learning how to study the Word of God. Time in Scripture is essential to the Christian walk and a believer’s self-care, and it is our greatest weapon. I also find Every Woman A Theologian to be an amazing and encouraging resource in this regard too. 

  1. Regularly meditating on gospel truths. 

Gospel Meditations for Motherhood is another blog I wrote about this practice. It has specific examples for motherhood, but also just outlines the generalities of this. A Gospel Primer for Christians by Milton Vincent is also an amazing resource and was really the driving force behind this practice in my life. 

  1. Participating in Spiritual Disciplines.

Participating in spiritual disciplines is a great way to practice Christ-centered self-care. The hands-down best resource I know to recommend on Spiritual Discipline is Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster. 

  1. Operating in the Spiritual gifts you’ve been given.

There are several books and free assessments online. Lifeway has some resources here. These gifts are given to all believers (1 Peter 4:10-11, 1 Corinthians 12) and are for the good of the body. The Church needs the gifts you have been given, and you honor the Lord when you operate in your spiritual giftings. 


And here is the deal. When we do these things, it doesn’t mean that all the challenging things in our lives go away or that all the hard things become easy. But the Lord does promise that as we abide in Him, we will bear much fruit and our joy will be full.


Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.  I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.  If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned.  If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.  By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.  As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. 

John 15:4-11, ESV

Looking for a community or someone to grab coffee with who is in a similar life season? We’d love to connect with you and get to know you better! Below you will find a few people that can’t wait to meet you, shoot us an email so we can make a plan!

Tyler OJ Campus

Teresa Ator:

Bethanie Tayler:

Tyler UB Campus

Max Heller:

Chrisleigh Heller:

Lindale Campus

Molly Pontius:

Debra Kirby:

Jess Kemp is a wife to her husband Jordan and momma to two little ones, Avenleigh who is a spunky and independent 2 year old and Quill who is a sweet and smiley 4-month-old (maybe older by the time you read this!). Jess also has a loved pup named Bax. Jess and her family live in Kannapolis, NC where Jess loves to try and catch up on sleep and celebrate her people every chance she gets!