How Do You Handle Self-Care?

I’m excited to share the fantastic news that I will be publishing another book with Herald Press, to be released next year!!

Normally I would post any writing news on my other blog, Writing and Other Acts of Faithbut it seems most appropriate to share the news here first.


Because my new book project comes as the happy result of an article that I wrote last year for When You Work for the Church.

Last August I asked, Is Self-Care Part of Your Paid Employment, and Should It Be?

Four days later I received an email from an editor at Herald Press saying how much she appreciated the article and suggesting that the self-care theme might make a good book to follow up my Sacred Pauses: Spiritual Practices for Personal Renewal (Herald Press, 2013).

Wow! We had talked some months earlier about my writing another book for Herald Press, but I was still finishing a Lenten devotional Bible study guide for another publisher, plus blogging regularly, plus pastoring full-time. Under the circumstances, I could hardly think about another book project.

So I tucked that idea in the back of my mind, and carried on with other things. Every so often, I would think about self-care and mull over the possibilities. I talked with the editors. I started collecting resources on self-care. I wrote a blog post on The Best Articles on Self-Care in the Church. I started jotting down ideas, that turned into a book proposal, that turned into an introduction and sample chapter, that finally turned into a publishing contract!

Now I have a book deadline for February 1, 2018, which simultaneously feels far away and far too soon! Thanks to my congregation, I have a two-month study leave for October and November to work on the book. That’s a wonderful gift and a huge help, but when I look at all of my scattered bits and pieces, I can’t imagine how everything will come together–and yet I know it will.

During the next few months I hope to continue blogging on my current schedule, twice a month here and twice a month on my writing blog–I have lots of ideas, both related and unrelated to self-care. But if an email from me arrives later than usual, or I skip a week, you’ll know why!

In the meantime, I welcome your thoughts, suggestions, and prayers. If you’ve read a great article or book on self-care, listened to a podcast, have a question that you’d like to see addressed, learned something about self-care as you’ve worked for the church and lived your life, or have something else you’d like to share with me, I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to leave a comment below, or connect with me privately.

Your turn:
How do you handle self-care?

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12 thoughts on “How Do You Handle Self-Care?

  1. Does self care include steps to avoid “routinization” or losing an intentional growing edge? I suggested to pastors that each one select a topic or a biblical book and devote two hours a week for two years. This worked and one pastor shared that he had focussed on Matthew and was blessed and enriched, energized through it. He became a mini-expert and enjoyed teaching and preaching Matthew. I did a similar thing with Revelation. To me these are examples of professional/personal self-care. I could elaborate on my experience. Blessings for this project!

    • Thanks, John. I love your example of professional/personal self-care, and it fits well with one of my chapters related to renewing our minds. If you’re willing to elaborate, I’d love to hear more, so if you have a chance to comment further or email me, I’d welcome the benefit of your experience. Thank you!

      • I’ve thought a bit more about this topic. One concept important for me is intentionality. Once we are finished formal education/training we have the option of coasting along, sticking to what we already know but there seems to be so much more waiting to be explored and developed. Intentionality means we are self-starters and creators of our own program of ongoing growth. We have the option of devising a plan for ourselves, each of us, and pursuing it for the sake of service to others and at the same time it serves our self-care needs. Each of us as leaders need to face the question: what is your cutting edge during this time? What are you focussing on? Being intentional and curious is energizing and becomes a source of blessing to our people.

        My experience as pastor of a church with many seniors led me to study aging and mortality and grief with the purpose of improving my skill-set and understanding for these areas of ministry. It’s as though I enrolled in a program of study and pursued with it focus and curiosity. I have been blessed and enriched in so many ways.

        Another example is the subject of forgiveness (interpersonal) and forbearance. There is a wealth of scholarship available on this topic and it’s entirely relevant to personal and congregational life.
        The topic of reading the Bible more responsibly is an ongoing and exciting concern and it behooves us a s leaders to lead, teach our people how to read with interpretation. More recently the subject of atonement – rethinking the meaning of Jesus’s death the cross has been on my radar. There is room for growth here as in other areas as well, but it takes both intentionality and curiosity, and I might add, some courage.

        I wonder whether we could encourage each other to draft a bucket list of issues, topics that we want to work on. Or as a variant, “If I were to give a 14 min TED talk on …. I would like to talk about this….

        What I am suggesting is that our commitment to lectionary use may actually become a hindrance for us from exploring topics theologically, drawing on the whole of Scripture and history. When we seem to be floundering about we may need to ask others in our churches, other leaders as well, to help us discern what are the issues that demand our theological attention at this time?

        Sharpening the focus of our efforts will lead to personal growth and commitment and the fulfilment our calling to be spiritual dieticians or resident theologians (C.S. Calian) in our communities.

        Enough for now. Some of this may be helpful.
        Blessings on your writing project.

  2. Great news, April. Congratulations. Though given your high level of self awareness personally and in your writing I am not too concerned, I hope your book gives some explicit attention to the tendency in our time and culture to be very self-focused, and that elements of this are in significant tension with our calling. Of course a book cannot and should not apologize for itself, but I think it would be really cool (and beneficial) if yours addresses this touchy issue.

    • Craig, your comment highlights some of the tension I feel around the whole subject of self-care, and that I definitely plan to address. I’ve read lots of practical tips on self-care, but relatively less on some of the larger questions like how to understand self-care in light of Jesus’ call to pick up our cross and follow, how is it possible to practice self-care without being selfish, and related questions. I don’t see this as apologizing for the book, but rather reframing self-care in light of our Christian call and convictions. I appreciate your encouragement in that direction, and welcome any further thoughts.

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  4. My self-care has been increasing in exercise – seems a bit Biblical, after all, Jesus walked a lot. Making time for my favorite hobby (quilting). Trying to keep on top of the daily life matters (ie household chores) so I don’t feel overwhelmed. Not sure how those would re-frame for a Christian calling but that’s what comes to mind when I think self-care. Plus, a good night’s sleep (7 1/2- 8h for me).

    • Those sound like excellent practices, Liana. Exercise, sleep, and not allowing household chores to become overwhelming are key for me too. I’m not sure that I have a favourite hobby though, unless eating dim sum counts!

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