Pivoting Your Self-Care

My hope is that these Ministry Pivot articles have been helpful for you and your team as you work through this season. As you have read there are several pivots to be mindful of and to implement. All of the pivots are important and will help you and your church move through this season successfully. The last pivot however is critical, as it deals with taking care of yourself. I hope we can all agree that if you aren’t well taken care of, you won’t be as good at taking care of anyone else. Here are a few pivots to consider:

Pivot No. 1 — Your time. In this season you can’t spend your time the same way. Since Sunday has shifted, many pastors I know are recording on other days. However, the majority of leaders I know have shifted their Sunday schedule. Such changes provide time for reflection about the other days of your week and how you spend those hours. For example, if your Sunday was normally spent in the building, but now you’re home and the service is over, how are you taking advantage of that time?

Maybe this means that you reorder your Sunday to be in worship with your family, but before or after the online service, you go for a run, walk, bike ride or something else that allows you to break from work. Not only should you take advantage of this, but also encourage your team to do the same. As you look at your time, consider the meetings and sessions during the week. Can you consolidate or cancel altogether to allow yourself and your team to regroup? Whatever you do with your time, just know that this season can be an opportunity to shift and take better care of yourself.

Pivot No. 2 — Your family. If you’re like me, you have a family with a calendar and schedule that could beat yours in a competition. During this season of stay at home and the process of slowly reopening, all of our calendars have changed and there is also a self-care opportunity here.

One of the ways as leaders that we can replenish our cups is by spending time with the people we love and care about. Since this season began my wife, daughter and I have taken advantage of daily walks together at a certain time to give our five-year-old the outside time she needs and to give my wife and me the time that we need. At first, I didn’t realize it but after a few days I saw the major benefits to our conversations and our laugher that are a result of this newly found family time. I also noticed that when I was with them and saw them happy, that made me happy.

One piece of exciting news is that part of my self-care with the family allowed me to finally teach my daughter how to ride a bike without training wheels. She and I started last summer, but because we didn’t go out enough, she didn’t fully get the hang of it. This summer however, in the first few days together, she was off and running … well, riding.

Pivot No. 3 — Your rest. When I say rest, here I mean more than sleep. Rest in self-care is anything that gives you peace or enjoyment that isn’t linked to “real” work—you know real work consists of the things that you don’t always like to do but you have to get done because you’re an adult. Things outside of the real work box like running or working out. Like writing and painting or even fixing up cars or remodeling rooms in the house. There are several activities that can be done to add to your rest and engage your sense of peace.

I hope you get my main point that you need to do some things that are simply for you and that give you peace and rest in this season. Those activities should be on your self-care list and should be done on a rotation that continues to provide moments of rest and peace throughout your week.

What things do you do for self-care? What would you add to the list? Who do you know that is really doing a great job taking care of themselves in this season?

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Russell St. Bernard
Russell St. Bernard

Russell St. Bernard is the director for ministry operations at Kingdom Fellowship AME Church in Silver Spring, Maryland, and the founder of After the Music Stops, a full-service youth ministry company as well as founder of Ministry Pivot, a company dedicated to assisting leaders and churches seize opportunities for growth.