I started my journey with Redeemed Ministries as an overnight staff member at the Assessment Center (30-day shelter), and I am proud to say that I recently began working as a Resident Advisor at the Sparrow House (safe house). My time serving at Redeemed has been filled with both numerous joys and unmentionable challenges thus far. And still no matter how many challenges I face on the job, I am continually ready and willing to come back for more the next day.
Working in ministry, particularly outreach ministry can be draining. While the work is fulfilling and humbling in a multitude of ways, it can still take a mental and emotional toll. After all, we are only human, and humans can only withstand so much.
Thankfully I have been well equipped with many extraordinary leaders in each of the facilities that I have been employed at. From the Assessment Center to the Sparrow House and all the stops in between, Redeemed has showcased incredible leadership that truly follow in the footsteps of Jesus Christ.
One of the many invaluable lessons I have learned from these leaders is the absolute necessity of self-care. Self-care can be defined in a multitude of ways, but I personally would describe it as an intentional means of achieving true joy and inner peace through a healthy activity or way of life. Self-care literally means just finding what makes you “tick” and doing that in your down time (if said activities are healthy and not causing harm to yourself or others, of course).
Self-care could be classified as reading a riveting book, laying out in the hot sun, painting on a canvas, taking a fun fitness class, doing a deep clean, having a good laugh or even journaling can all constitute as self-care in the right context. Obviously, there are more medically proven self-care techniques that include tasks like breathing exercises, making small changes in your diet, moisturizing your skin, going for a short walk, creating a deliberate habit, cloud-watching or even various forms of meditation.
Then there are the fun ones like dancing, singing, taking a dip in the pool, chatting with close friends or even planning a small weekend getaway. And of course, there are the more spiritually-driven exercises like digging into God’s Word, seeking out a faith-based counselor, turning on some praise and worship tunes, fervently praying and pressing into His presence and even spending quality time with a solid mentor will all suffice as Christ-based self-care.
Self-care can vary depending on the individual and their degree of self-care needed. For example, a fifteen-year-old working their first job at Chick-fil-A might not need the level of self-care that a high-profile attorney would. However, in my opinion, almost every working man or woman out there deserves a degree of self-care in their daily life.
I think self-care is especially important for individuals who have positions that require a level of service and “giving back”. When you are working for a ministry (or any emotionally demanding job), sometimes we tend to put ourselves on the backburner to focus more on the people we are serving. It is so easy to throw everything you have into ministry and put yourself and your needs at the very bottom of your mental list of things to manage. Just like anyone else I struggle with this from time to time.
It isn’t that I think less of myself or that I don’t value my own sanity. I certainly value myself, but at times, I get so consumed with my work day or my chores and tasks at home that I somehow let my mental health fall to the bottom of that list. It is a habit that I believe many men and women in ministry have unfortunately given into.
But we must remember the reason we are serving in the first place, and that is ultimately to serve Christ first and foremost. We desire to feed the hungry, bring water to the thirsty, give clothing to those in need, heal those who are sick and reach those who are imprisoned. (See: Matthew 25: 31-46). We want to do all these powerful things in His great name, but we cannot forget to care for ourselves in this process.
There is so much beauty, power and sheer magnitude in serving others in the name of Jesus, but we diminish that magnitude when we forget our humanness and our need for self-care. In the same sense that we must be spiritually full to fill up others, we must also be mentally and emotionally whole before we can mentally and emotionally serve others. Your clients, your patrons (or whoever it is that you are serving) deserve the absolute best, and by failing to “fuel up” with self-care routines we are undermining the power of God’s work.
So, find a great book, curl up with your pet on the couch, do a few breathing exercises or just call your best friend and vent. We will never be able to serve effectively if we are constantly running on a quarter of a tank of emotional wellness. Give yourself the same time, energy and love that you are giving to those whom you serve.
Author: Amanda Richardson
Amanda has spent the better part of the last two years finding new ways to fight social injustice and advocate for sex trafficking survivors in the Houston area. In this short time, she has worked at both short-term and long-term care facilities within Redeemed Ministries all of which promote and produce holistic healing and recovery for survivors. She plans to continue this work fighting for “the least of these” and go wherever The Lord may lead her in this process.