Eric Scalise recently wrote an article in Christian Counseling Today entitled “Compassion and Self-Care: Finding the Balance.” He begins the article with telling a story. He was flying to a different country on a way to speak at a conference about stress and burnout. After his international flights being switched around multiple times, he was happy to finally get on his final flight and grab a newspaper. Being one who travels frequently, he was accustomed to the flight attendants and their safety talk at the beginning of each flight and has learned to zone out whenever it began. Only this time he listened and felt the Holy Spirit begin to move in him.
The flight attendant stated, as she had multiple times before, “If we should experience the sudden loss of cabin pressure, oxygen masks will deploy from the ceiling, above you. If you are traveling with small children, please put the mask on yourself first and then assist the child.” While it may seem more loving, humane, and compassionate to help the children first, the parents need to be in the position where they are able to help facilitate the vulnerable child which requires them to first be in a position where they are able to help.
The analogy to counseling is clear. Dr. Scalise states, “If we want to ensure that we are ‘available’ to the Lord and others, we must take care of ourselves first—appropriately and in a balanced way—or we risk becoming ineffective and, at times, even a hindrance to what God is trying to accomplish.”
If we are called to “run with endurance the race that is set before us” (Hebrews 12:1), then it is of utmost importance that we are purposefully taking time for our own self-care.