Guest post written by Mark Reynolds, Executive Pastor of Business Operations, Oak Ridge Baptist Church
What is Soul Care?
A formal definition of soul care is the support and restoration of a person’s well-being in their totality. Totality is one’s mind, body, and spirit.
For a country boy who likes to put things in simplistic terms, my definition is — the time you take to care for yourself so you can be a better “You” to fulfill the mission God has for “You”.
Personally, I struggle with the idea of soul care for three reasons.
1. I am a task-driven individual, and for me, success is in completing a task. There is no time to slow down and take care of things that do not seem like a task.
2. I struggle with the part of “caring for self”. Taking time for self-care for me feels selfish. It’s even more complicated when I love to serve and help others.
3. I am an introvert who enjoys being by myself. A day hiding in my office with no human contact is fulfilling. Besides, sharing my feelings and emotions is not easy.
I have learned taking care of myself should be a top priority. Now, I am not saying we walk around with the mantra “It’s all about me”, but rather saying I need to allocate time in my day to look after myself.
Unfortunately, we live in a world that focuses on a “Me” mentality that is not soul care. There is a difference between “Devotion to Self and Care for Self.”
When we serve in ministry, we are in the business of caring for souls and we tend to neglect the care of our own soul.
We need to remember we are in the business of caring for the souls that God has put before us.
But how can we minister when…
- We are tired.
- We are anxious.
- We are stressed.
- We are worn out.
- We do not spend time with those that we love.
We need to be reminded of God’s word:
“May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:23
“Watch over your heart with diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.” ~Proverbs 4:23
“Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?” ~1 Corinthians 3:16
And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest awhile.” ~ Mark 6:31
So, over the past years, I have determined I need to focus on this idea of caring for myself. I need to remind myself that God has a plan for me, and if I do not take care of me, I cannot succeed at the plan He has for me.
Let me share the 7 things I set out to do to care for myself.
1. Make God’s word important.
You would think this would be a given for a pastor. I am ashamed to say what a lack of discipline I have in this area. I need to look at the study of God’s word about growing my relationship with him, not a checkbox that I completed for the day.
A quick solution for me was to join a local men’s bible study outside of my church where I serve. It has been great to have a fixed time each week to study the book of John with other Christian men.
2. Make Quiet time an important time.
I like working toward a 3-tier approach to quiet time.
- Tier 1 – 15 minutes per day completely still, and no noise.
- Tier 2 – 30 minutes per day, pick an activity you enjoy doing that includes only yourself. (I will share mine in item #3)
- Tier 3 – 1 outing per year that is without your immediate family. For me, this comes with an annual trip by myself to see my parents in South Dakota.
Tier 3 was a struggle for me because I felt selfish by not including my wife and children. However, this outing has become one of the most recharging elements in my soul care. To help with the feeling of being selfish, I refer to: “Jesus dismissed the multitude and went up to the mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night he was there alone.” ~ Matthew 14:23
3. Get physical exercise.
I feel so much better when I get up and get moving. Our body is designed for physical exercise. This is where I incorporate #2. I love to run. I try to run 2 to 3 miles a day. While I don’t have a runner’s build and I am not very fast, I love to run. It becomes very spiritual on mile 3 when I am out of breath and I feel like I will die.
4. Date my mate.
My wife is my best friend, but any friendship requires investment. I need to make sure I am spending quality time with my wife. We try to calendar a weekly date.
During the past year, some of my wife’s and I best non-planned dates were traveling together to pick up groceries at Walmart’s curbside pickup. Like during my college days of walking my wife to her class, I work my schedule to walk my wife to her car on the nights she works late at her job downtown.
5. Allot time for your family.
I am blessed to be the father of 3 children – two adult daughters and one teenage son. Take time for your children and enjoy each season with them. Learn what they like to do and try to have a conversation with them. As they grow up and if they move away, use modern technology to stay in touch. My daughter moved to South Carolina. We use the Marco Polo app to share random videos during the day.
6. Find community.
This was the hardest for me to take on in my soul care. I am a loner at heart. I grew up farming. I was content to start my day at 6:00 am and end my day at 9:00 pm in the same tractor while not talking to anyone. I had to teach myself to rely on others and that communication with others was essential in my self-care. Find a group and be a part of it.
7. Unpack weekly with a friend.
This was the second hardest in my soul care. I am an amazing listener. But getting me to talk can be a chore at times, especially when it comes to sharing my feelings and thoughts. I consider my wife my best friend, but we both agree we need same gender friends to grow. Find that friend and commit to weekly lunches or phone calls. But find someone you can trust and one who allows you to be honest.
I have not perfected these seven things, but they are part of my annual goals to improve and focus on.
It will stretch you and take you out of your comfort zone but find a way to take care of yourself so that you can take care of others better.
Soul care is not a selfish act when you do it to fulfill God’s plan for you.
Mark and his family came to Oak Ridge Baptist Church in 2006 to serve in his current role. Mark is a graduate of Salisbury University with a degree in Accounting. He is also a licensed CPA who has served in both public and corporate accounting prior to coming to Oak Ridge.
In his role at Oak Ridge, Mark oversees the business, financial, construction, and facility aspects of the church. Mark has a passion for analyzing data that helps measure the health of the church.