What Everyone Needs

Unbalanced Self-Care

People are complex and multifaceted. Even a person who pays great attention to their wellbeing in some areas might be negligent of other areas. To care for other people effectively, it is important that we are mindful of a range of areas in which they need to be nurtured.

For example, I have had some opportunity to work with people who are highly involved in physical fitness. A person might be in nearly perfect physical condition. He or she could pay meticulous attention to a routine of exercise, rest, and a healthy diet. Would a person benefit from such dedication? Certainly. But while someone might spend great energy taking care of their physical self, it might cause their social or emotional life to suffer for the lack of time to spend with people they value, and who value them. Even with one area of great health, a person could still feel empty and unfulfilled.

Conversely, one of my struggles in life has been that I so highly value stimulating my mind that I can tend to be negligent of my physical body. I seem to have endless energy to read and analyze as much as I want. But when I focus on this to the neglect of other areas of my life, I end up feeling unsatisfied. In fact, I have never had a significant time of spiritual growth in my life that did not also involve greater efforts to exercise, eat better, and pay attention to my physical self.

The Emotionally-Healthy Framework

One of the first books in my life that helped me to become aware of and to address these sorts of imbalances is Pete Scazerros book Emotionally-Healthy Spirituality. He sets up a framework of five parts to represent a holistic look at personhood.

We all have intellectual, spiritual, social, physical, and emotional needs.

While I am sure that any attempt to reduce the human experience to just a handful of aspects must fall short somewhere, I have still found this a helpful framework.

Applying A Balanced Framework

It is quick and easy to pause and run through a quick list of five items to evaluate how things are going. Despite whatever shortcomings are involved in reducing the human experience down to just a few categories, this is still a fine starting point. The five components that Scazzero uses are (in no particular order):

  • Physical
  • Intellectual
  • Social
  • Emotional
  • Spiritual

I want to talk about some of the numerous ways you can apply this approach.

For Yourself

It is easy to be blind to some of our own imbalances. Even if you can’t have a total perspective on yourself of what you are like, you can always at least pay attention to how you are scheduling and using your time.

  • Are there places in each week where you set aside time to care for yourself physically?
  • Are you stimulating your mind?
  • Have you made time to get out and spend time with other people?
  • Have you created space to process what you are feeling and thinking?
  • Where are you making time to let God shape you through Scripture and prayer?

Communicating Precisely In Relationships

A fundamental problem in many relationships is communication. Whether it is unclear or insufficient, many people struggle to understand the people in their lives. If you and your spouse are trying to connect more deeply, this list of five areas is a great way to have a quick bit of honest, clear talk. In fact, it would work just as well for how you can connect better with your children or grandchildren. Just ask about the specific areas, and allow them to do the same for you.

How are you doing right now….Physically? Intellectually? Emotionally? Spiritually? Socially?

If you know about these five areas of a person’s life, and how they are in these areas right now, you will have a good grasp of where they might need help, and what’s going on under the surface that you might not otherwise see.

Caring For Your Leaders / Volunteers

I think one of the most useful ways to apply this sort of thinking is for our leaders and volunteers at church. How do you go about caring for the people who lead and serve you each week?

This list could include:

  • Elders
  • Ministers
  • Office Staff
  • Deacons
  • Teachers
  • Children’s Volunteers

I suggested to our newly formed Missions Committee a few days ago, that as they go about creating their protocol for how they operate, they should consider regularly evaluating our missionaries from these angles. How is our missionary family doing…

  • Physically? Do they have any medical needs? Are they able to afford the healthcare they need?
  • Intellectually? Do we make it possible for them to attend workshops, classes, or conferences so that they can remain stimulated and excited?
  • Socially? Do they have ties with other people in similar work that strengthen them? Do they have peers and friends to encourage them?
  • Emotionally? Right now, what are the things in their life about which they feel negatively? What are the things in their life that are bringing them joy, excitement, and anticipation?
  • Spiritually? What is their relationship with God like right now? What are they actively praying about? What parts of Scripture are they allowing to shape them?

What areas have great balance? What areas seem to tend toward imbalance?

Before you get too caught up in a rigid evaluation based on performance, you might want to back up and ask about their wellbeing, which will undoubtedly tie into how well they do in their work!

My experience is that it is nearly impossible to lead other people to be healthy if you yourself are not healthy.

I’d like to hear from you:

  • What are areas you believe that people can easily neglect or treat with imbalance?
  • Would you add any dimension to Scazzero’s list of five that you think needs emphasis?
  • How do you check yourself alone? How do you do this with a friend or spiritual director?
  • How can you be more effective in considering the wellbeing of those who serve you?

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