As Christians we paraphrase this into “Love God. Love Others.” but forget or rather neglect the “as yourself” part. Which poses the question, is it possible to love others and God without loving yourself (in a Biblical and Godly way)? No. Jesus teaches and gives the ultimate example of self-sacrifice and a lifestyle of serving but does not teach or promote self-hurt or self-harm. When we neglect ourselves we mask it by calling it “sacrifice” or “serving” but in reality it is harmful to ourselves, our relationships and our ability to work for The Kingdom!
Prepare to Persevere:
When we love our self in a Godly way we are not only obedient to God’s Word but we are preparing ourselves to persevere; which we would all agree we need to be able to persevere. Jesus never indicates that this life will be easier by following him, in fact it may be the opposite (see John 16). But just because life will have troubles and difficulties doesn’t mean the only option is to quit. The last part of Hebrews 12:1 says, “And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us”. Perseverance is only possible if we are and continue to remain healthy in all areas of our lives (which is a Godly definition of self-love). Jesus models the way of a Godly and healthy self-love by showing us how to FUEL UP and REST UP (check out Luke 5:15-16; Mark 2:27; Mark 1:35-39)
So what does it look like to love yourself in a Godly way, to prepare for perseverance by FUELING UP and RESTING UP? It will look different for everyone but there are many tools to help identify what it is for you! One of these tools is called “The Replenishment Cycle” (developed by Tom Paterson http://www.patersoncenter.com/lifeplan/paterson-lifeplan.html)
The Replenishment Cycle:
We all have aspects of our lives that either drain us or recharge us. If we do not identify what refuels us and make intentional time and effort to implement those into our lives we will not be able to effectively love ourselves, others and ultimately God. Below is the Replenishment Cycle (which has been adjusted by Gil Stieglitz: http://www.ptlb.com)
Loving yourself is to have a life that is full enough that you can pour into others and into persevering. If you are drained and empty you have nothing to give or offer (the obvious image of trying to pour water out of an empty glass). But when we stay filled we can effectively and more continually pour into others and into the demands at hand. As you begin to identify what you need to stay replenished and healthy, it would be good to look at this from different time perspectives: what do you need in each of these boxes daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly and annually? Everyone is different, so what replenishes you will be different from your spouse, friends, kids, coworkers, boss, etc…
Rest/Sleep: How much time do you need for sleep to stay replenished? Do you need to go to bed early and get up early or stay up late and sleep in? Do you need one or two power naps? How often do you need a day off? How often does your family need a vacation and for how long? When do you and your spouse need a date night?
Right People: There are three types of people in our lives…those that drain us, those that recharge us and those that destroy us (Toxic Relationships). The draining people in our lives are not bad people…they are the people who we need to be pouring into! But if we are only spending time with those who need us/drain us then we are going to be running on empty in no time. Who are the people who recharge you? How often do you need to spend time with them and it what capacity?
Creation/Recreation: What is fun for you? Do you like making art, refinishing furniture, making music…? Does creating replenish you? Or is it recreation: sports, games, sewing, etc…? Identify what creation and/or recreation activities replenish you and how often you need to be engaged with them.
Right Work: My dad always told me if you enjoy 75% of your job then you have the perfect job! Ideally you want to be in a career that isn’t a constant stress or drain; however the reality is we do what we need to do to provide for ourselves and our family. But ideally, what is the right work for you, what is the right career for you right now? If you don’t have the option to have a career that is replenishing then can you supplement by volunteering or doing something on the side that keeps you replenished by doing what you love.
New Information: Learning will replenish you! This may or may not be in a classroom or school setting. For some this is taking additional classes or continuing through the educational system. For others it is reading, watching documentaries, going to conferences or learning to fix your car by watching YouTube videos. What do you like learning about? What would you like to know and learn? How do you get replenished by learning?
Eliminate: Bob Goff (http://bobgoff.com) is known for saying he quits something every Thursday! The most replenishing thing you could today may be saying no to something. A healthy leader knows when to say no. What is on your plate that needs to be taken off? This is difficult because most of the items on our plates are important but we cannot do everything. What do you need to eliminate? (If you want to hear more on this specific subject, click here for my podcast on “the good that hinders” or visit: https://vimeo.com/127467280)
Nature: There is something rejuvenating about being in God’s creation! Whether you consider yourself an outdoors person or not, nature is reviving. You need to determine what form of nature you need and how often you need it? Maybe you need to be outside hiking weekly or once a year need to be someplace where you can admire nature from the comfort of an air conditioned room.
Add/New Actions/Habits: What are you currently NOT doing that would replenish you if you started doing them? This could be starting a new hobby, exercise routine, healthy eating regiment, family dinners, date nights, etc… Just as it’s important know when to say no, it is just as important to identify what you need to begin.
Jesus: In John 15:1,4 Jesus says, “I am the true vine and my Father is the gardener…Remain in me, as I remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.” Our souls are replenished by being with Jesus! How will you remain in Jesus and remain filled?