• "...to bring good news to the poor... proclaim release to the captives... let the oppressed go free..."
  • (Luke 4:18-19)


    Self-care. Do those words make you uncomfortable? If they do, please read on. This resource was prepared with you in mind. I used to struggle with even the idea of setting aside “me” time. That sounded too selfish! So over the years I’ve spent time talking with God about what this means for me, my family, and my ministry. Serving in women’s ministry and in various roles in American Baptist Churches USA, I often find myself sitting in an airplane seat. One day, waiting for another flight to take off and privately talking with God about my needs and self-care, my attention was diverted to the flight attendant. She was leading a not-very-attentive cabin of travelers through the required preflight safety instructions. You know the drill: “The nearest exit may be behind you. . . ,” “Grasp the buckle and pull . . . ,” “In the unlikely event of a water landing, your seat cushion may be used as a floatation device . . . .” The words at first rolled over me. Suddenly, however, it was if the volume of the flight attendant’s voice was turned up to 11 and she was speaking directly to me: “In the event of a change in cabin pressure, an oxygen mask will descend from the ceiling above your seat. Be sure to put on your own mask before assisting others.” God spoke through that flight attendant directly to my spirit, and I finally understood. If I’m straining for oxygen, I will be of no use to others who are in need of oxygen themselves. I cannot give away what I do not possess. A foundational Scripture passage that shapes my thinking and life is Luke 10:25–37. Verse 27 says, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself” (NRSV). Love God, love people—we get that. But what about the “as yourself” part? Suddenly the flight attendant’s instructions seem to be grounded in good theology! How can we love God and love neighbor if we have nothing more, if we are running on empty, if our batteries are dead, if our hearts are cold, if our spirits are weak, if our energy is gone? The simple answer is: We cannot. Unless and until we learn to care for ourselves properly and regularly, we suffer, our family and friends suffer, and our ministries suffer. Therefore, I command you to read on! Seek God as I did. And learn from the one who loves more than we can even begin to imagine. Patti Stratton served as president of American Baptist Women’s Ministries, 2012–15. Recently receiving her master of divinity from Bangor Theological Seminary in Bangor, Maine, she and her husband, Rev. Jon Stratton, are copastors of the First Baptist Church of Rutland, Vermont.

    Po Box 851 · Valley Forge, PA · 19482-0851
    (610) 768-2288 · info@abwministries.org