The Challenge of Self-Care
The Challenge of Self-Care from Mark 6:30-34 is part one in a sermon series entitled “How to Care for Myself During the Holidays.”
We have entered that new three-month holiday season: “Hallowthanksmas.” I saw this cartoon years ago and thought it was a great joke. Since that time, I have now seen people promote the idea of the three-month long holiday season. This period of the year can be exhausting for people. You are going everywhere, and you are doing so much, it can really wear you out. I am starting a new series that I am calling “How to Care for Myself During the Holidays.” From now until Christmas, we will explore ways to set back and keep myself sane during this holiday period. The first way is to learn to rest.
There is a word that is used in psychology called self-care. It’s the idea of taking care of yourself to prevent burnout. Rest is the antidote to burnout.
Pastor John Courson says the following:
Jesus models something that a lot us are discovering. That is, if we don’t come apart, we’ll fall apart. There’s an ebb and flow in ministry in which times of service alternate with times of quietness and solitude, prayer, and contemplation. We need to come apart daily and have a quiet, quality time with the Lord. We need to come apart weekly for a Sabbath rest in Him.
Here, we see Jesus reminding His disciples of the importance of self-care. They had just returned from preaching in the villages. Jesus noticed that the disciples were doing so much and so much was going on, that the disciples were unable to eat a meal.
“The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all that they had done and taught.” (Mark 6:30, CSB)
This is happening when the disciples had finished a ministry in Galilee. They were going around serving other people, working hard providing ministry. They taught and healed others. This story is really the sequel to what ended in a previous section:
“So they went out and preached that people should repent. They drove out many demons, anointed many sick people with oil and healed them.” (Mark 6:12–13, CSB)
It’s not that the disciples forgot to eat. They just couldn’t get away to have a quiet time for themselves to eat lunch. You know you can get so busy that you forget to take a break.
Jesus tells his disciples three simple steps to self-care in Mark 6:31:
So Jesus said to his disciples, “Come, let’s take a break and find a secluded place where you can rest a while.” (Mark 6:31, The Passion Translation).
THREE STEPS TO OF SELF-CARE DURING THE HOLIDAYS
Take a break
“Come, let’s take a break…”” (Mark 6:31, TPT)
You must take a break. Whether it is work or ministry, it will still be there when you get back. In this passage, the ministry was walking around to the other side of the lake so that they were ready when Jesus and His disciples got out of the water.
Jesus intentionally decided to take a break. He used this as a teaching lesson for His disciples as well. Go take a break.
Find a secluded place
“…find a secluded place…” (Mark 6:31, TPT)
You can’t take a break in the middle of where you are working. You’ve got to go somewhere else.
Can you imagine the scene, the people are crowding around, so Jesus says, “Let’s get in a boat and go somewhere else to take a break”. They had to get on the lake to get away from people.
Go to a break room, bathroom, any other kind of secluded place. Even if you must go outside to get away from other people. Go find a place.
Rest a while
“…rest a while.”” (Mark 6:31, TPT)
When you take that break, and find a place, then it is time to rest, for a short while. Rest from your duties, from distractions, from demands. Take a moment to settle and center yourself. Rest in the moment.
There are moments when you need to rest. These time intervals are important.
THREE TIMES TO GET REGULAR REST
Rick Warren, former pastor of Saddleback Church, has said about leadership:
“Years ago, I learned a little formula that is the key to lasting in leadership. It’s this: Divert Daily, Withdraw Weekly, Abandon Annually.”
What Rick Warren says applies to leadership, I believe applies to everyone in general. The first way to get regular rest is to do it daily.
Jesus practiced this daily rest and prayer.
“Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he got up, went out, and made his way to a deserted place; and there he was praying.” (Mark 1:35, CSB)
There is the important principle of taking a moment each day to settle yourself, meditate, and pray. The simple time of focus, which can last between 30 seconds and 5 minutes can make the difference in how you handle the day as it progresses. The second time to get regular rest is weekly.
Jesus also practiced the Sabbath rest. The Gospels record at least twenty times that Jesus “withdrew” from others. This follows the pattern of His Heavenly Father.
“On the seventh day God had completed his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy, for on it he rested from all his work of creation.” (Genesis 2:2–3, CSB)
God taught His people to practice the Sabbath rest. He even taught it before they had it written down:
“Yet on the seventh day some of the people went out to gather, but they did not find any. Then the Lord said to Moses, “How long will you refuse to keep my commands and instructions?” (Exodus 16:27–28, CSB)
Then we see in the Ten Commandments:
“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy:” (Exodus 20:8, CSB)
It is a holy thing to get some rest. The point is that we were never meant to work on this Earth without some form of rest. Our bodies need to recover. Our minds and emotions need to recover. That is why the instruction about work and rest so that everyone could continue to do what they needed.
““Do your work for six days but rest on the seventh day so that your ox and your donkey may rest, and the son of your female slave as well as the resident alien may be refreshed.” (Exodus 23:12, CSB)
The rest day was made to help us. We were never designed to be burned out. The day of rest should help me, not hurt me. If I am still doing too much, even if it is other work, then I am not observing the Sabbath. I need to take a weekly break.
The third way that we can get rest is to “abandon annually.”
It means on a regular basis; you need to get away. Go away from what you are doing. Jesus and His disciples may have not practiced what we would term the annual vacation. However, there were times when Jesus went and abandoned His place of work and ministry and went somewhere else. In the case of Jesus and many Jews, it was the annual Passover in Jerusalem.
“Every year his parents traveled to Jerusalem for the Passover Festival.” (Luke 2:41, CSB)
“The Jewish Passover was near, and so Jesus went up to Jerusalem.” (John 2:13, CSB)
In this case, it was short trip on a boat over still water. Jesus was in the boat with His disciples, watching the crowd run to the other side of the lake getting ready for him to arrive. Sometimes when you rest, it’s even when you notice the hustle and bustle is going on around you. Yet, you can still take a moment, close your eyes, reflect, relax, and rest. Until the time comes to get back out there.
 Jon Courson, Jon Courson’s Application Commentary (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2003), 248.
 Robert J. Morgan, Nelson’s Complete Book of Stories, Illustrations, and Quotes, electronic ed. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2000), 709.