Unlike many modern expressions of self-care, God’s approach to self-care is not selfish. In fact, it is one of the best gifts you can give to your family or place of work.
When our daughters were younger, I’d joke with them about my latest attempt at self-improvement by calling it “Ken Hensley 2.0” – the upgraded version of me. It got to the point where I’d be doing something new and they would just say, “2.0 dad?”
In reality, that’s actually a good way to think about self-care.
I want my family to experience best version of myself I can offer them. To not offer them the best I can be, THAT is the definition of selfish!
As we think about the Christian approach to self-care, it’s important to remember this basic principle: Life generally goes better when we live our lives the way God designed them to be lived.
Israel had lived in Egypt as slaves for over 400 years. For generations, that’s all they had known. You were a slave … your father was a slave … your grandfather was a slave. You weren’t able to go on vacation. You couldn’t take mental health day.
For over 400 years, their schedule had been at the mercy of the Egyptians.
The book of Exodus tells the great story of how God released the Israelites from captivity and began their journey to the Promised Land. Along the way they stop at Mt. Sinai – where Moses receives the 10 Commandments. One of them had to do with the rhythm of work and rest …
8 “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. 11 For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.” – Exodus 20:8-11
Let’s look a little deeper at a few of the key terms.
Remember … Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. This is more than God saying, “Now, don’t forget the Sabbath.” It means to be actively observing this principle of work and rest.
Sabbath day … Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. I’m often asked, does the word Sabbath mean “seven or seventh”? Short answer? No. A literal translation can be “day of ceasing” or “day of stopping.”
In agrarian cultures, it’s telling the farmers, “Don’t worry about the fields.” For modern people with desk jobs, it’s saying “Go for a walk and don’t answer any emails!”
Holy … Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. In the Bible, the words holy and holiness do not mean spiritual snobbery — as in “that person acts holier than thou.” To say a person is holy is to acknowledge that they are set aside for a special purpose. God is saying to set aside one day as special.
Labor and Work … Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work … Here’s good news for parents of teenagers: According to the 4th commandment, we should be involved in productive labor. Adam and Eve tended to the Garden.
Did work became harder after Fall? Yes. Was it the result of the Fall? No
In the creation story, God himself worked for six days. He has designed us with the need to be productive.
Rest … For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Where did the idea of the Sabbath being a day of rest and worship come from? It’s rooted in the creation story itself.
It’s not that God got tired from sculpting the mountains and creating birds and needed a day off. When he “rested”, it means that God settled down and became quiet.
Blessed … Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy. When God blesses something, it means he gives his favor to it. The 4th commandment tells us that God has given his favor to a day of rest and worship.
When God gives his pleasure to something, what is the risk of doing the opposite? It’s being on the receiving end of his displeasure!
Author and pastor Max Lucado once wrote about his young daughter riding her bike down her first hill. He went ahead and waited. Down she came. The bike picked up speed. Handlebars began to shake. Her eyes got big.
As she raced past, he heard her scream “I can’t remember how to stop.” She crashed into the curb!
What is the moral of the story? If you don’t know how to stop, the result can be painful. What is true on bicycles is just as true in life.
How can we avoid being out of sync? Let me offer three suggestions.
Develop a healthy rhythm of work and rest. If you ignore God’s example of having at least one day to rest, don’t be surprised when you find yourself always stressed out, anxious, and tired!
Treat your spiritual life with the same commitment and drive as you do your job. Few people reach a level of influence and success by being sloppy and lazy.
Your spiritual health will not thrive if you approach it haphazardly or halfheartedly.
Start this week. There is no better time to start than now!
Experience and Background
- 25+ years of senior leadership experience
- masters in management and leadership
- presenter at the WFX National Conference
- former president, Church Planters of the Rockies
- helped start 2 for-profit tech companies
To get a better feel for my style and personality, you can watch past sermons on our YouTube channel.
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