Why I Can’t Embrace Self-Care (Because I’m Prone to Selfishness)

I am not prone to self-sacrifice, but to whole-heartedly looking for ways to embrace self-care. Being a people pleaser, it is easy to trick myself into thinking I am giving myself up as a sacrifice for others when instead, I am just using them to boost my own appearance. My days, and I would guess your days too, are very self-focused.

There are days when I’m weary, when I’m in need of rest. And we serve a God who provides rest for the weary, but do I intrude upon that rest and use it as a spiritual excuse for sloth?

We need to honor the limits of our bodies. The Holy Spirit dwells within us and we need to respect His dwelling place. But more than that, we need to follow the example of service that God has set forth. We need to keep pressing when we are weary and trust in the supernatural strength that the Holy Spirit provides for all believers.

When I pour over the Scriptures, I don’t find much about the need to love myself. Instead, I see over and over again that I am prone to selfishness and vanity, not that I need encouragement to embrace self-care. Click To Tweet

When I pour over the Scriptures, I don’t find much about the need to love myself. Instead, I see over and over again that I am prone to selfishness and vanity, not that I need encouragement to embrace self-care. I tend to view myself in as higher than others instead of emptying myself in service and outdoing others in showing honor for those around me.

You and I, we live in a self-centric age. Companies target us with specific marketing. The personal preferences at our fingertips are endless. We have variety upon variety of ways to communicate, or avoid communication, with others. We call it preferences but if we examined our hearts, I think we would see that it translates to self-centered.

Christ told us to take up our cross and follow Him.

John 15 tells us that there is no greater love than laying your life down for another. This is an act of radical self-abandonment, at the expense of self-care.

At the end of my life, when I face my Maker, I don’t want to say I’ve held anything back. I want to live a life poured out in service of the God who sacrificed His life in place of my sin. He didn’t protect His life, He willingly gave it up.

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. -Philippians 2:3-8, ESV

Counting others better than ourselves is very different than looking at the mirror and thinking of your own needs before those of your neighbors.

John 15 tells us that there is no greater love than laying your life down for another. This is an act of radical self-abandonment, at the expense of self-care. Click To Tweet

No one had to teach me to care for myself. But I need to be taught to sacrifice myself, as Christ showed us, for others out of love. Maybe you’re not like me but, if the Scriptures speak to the state of your heart as they do to mine, then you struggle, even on your best days, to think of others before yourself. Because loving our neighbors as ourselves? It’s hard, holy work.


Jesus rested. He withdrew from the crowds to seek time with His Father. But He also pressed into the crowds and provided for their needs when He was tired and the day had been long. When others encouraged Him to send people home, He broke bread and fed them.

I am prone to selfishness. The self-care trend has fed this sin in my life, and in the lives of many of those around me. It’s prioritized the “me” over the “other.” Click To Tweet

I am prone to selfishness. The self-care trend has fed this sin in my life, and in the lives of many of those around me. It’s prioritized the “me” over the “other.” Rest, as God did on the Seventh Day, but work in the same self-giving manner on the other days.

Don’t allow yourself to become conformed to the world around you but continually renew your mind and heart to center around the Truth.

This doesn’t mean we need to neglect or abuse our body, but Scripture makes it clear that you and I need to prioritize others-care before self-care.

Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God. – Hebrews 13:16, ESV

So go and do good. Enjoy the world God has created and savor the simple joys of life. But don’t allow it to become an excuse for selfishness.

Live poured out and allow the Living Water to quench your thirst over and over again. But remember that your life is not your own, but is meant to be offered up as a sacrifice to the God who gave His life for you.

Join 1,884 Believers
Join 1,884 believers who receive weekly updates and spiritual encouragement and receive free access to the resource library and our exclusive Facebook group.
We hate spam. Your email address will not be sold or shared with anyone else.

Leave a Reply

  1. Thank you for writing this! I struggle with all the self care tips out there because although I may not do a face mask every day, feel like I put myself first too often and that is not helping me love others more. But the more I focus on God’s truth and pouring into others, the more fulfilled I feel.

  2. This is a very convicting post and I appreciate your point of view! I’ve used the term “self care” as a way to rest from the busyness of life and use it to focus on my time with the Lord. Sometimes, that time with the Lord isn’t the peaceful, quiet early mornings with my warm cup of coffee and a blanket, but my hair in a messy bun feeding my toddler his breakfast.
    I appreciate your perspective and how it points back to the Word and to Jesus.

  3. I absolutely love this! You have covered this topic from a totally different perspective, and I couldn’t agree more. I felt like I was wrong for putting others before myself because I got caught up in the self care mindset. When we go to the word, your perspective is more in line with what we’re called to do.

  4. It’s so easy to think of ourselves and forget about everyone else. I’ve been very aware of this struggle lately. I have to push myself daily to think about others. I really wish it came more naturally. I know it will never be something that comes easily, but I hope it will become a part of who I am as I strive to be more like Christ.

  5. I’m happy that people are starting to look at self-care from different angles. It’s important to work hard and I think we are called to put others before ourselves. In fact, I think sometimes self-care involves work. We definitely have to stretch ourselves. However, rest was also part of God’s plan. I’m someone who tends to work as much as possible, so I need to remember that rest is important, as well. 🙂

    • True,
      But it is also good to remember that god has given us responsibility to do ourselves what we can do ourselves.
      This also extends to others. Self sacrifice isn’t doing something for someone that belongs to their responsibilities. Then the most loving thing is to speak to the other about this. So you really help them grow as a person, not by taking over their responsibilities, but learning them how to take and manage theirs, so they to can become a full revelation of Christ’s presence….

  6. So good and so convicting! Thank you for this beautiful reminder!

    “No one had to teach me to care for myself. But I need to be taught to sacrifice myself, as Christ showed us, for others out of love. Maybe you’re not like me but, if the Scriptures speak to the state of your heart as they do to mine, then you struggle, even on your best days, to think of others before yourself. Because loving our neighbors as ourselves? It’s hard, holy work. Jesus rested. He withdrew from the crowds to seek time with His Father. But He also pressed into the crowds and provided for their needs when He was tired and the day had been long. When others encouraged Him to send people home, He broke bread and fed them.” WOW.

  7. I have never read “self care “ posts because I felt they were all about “ take care of me first and foremost “ types. As a mama of triplets, wife , and devotional blogger I know I cannot simply indulge in self all the time.

    I thank the Lord for the night time when I catch some rest just like the Lord did sleep. When the Lord did get away from the crowd it was to spend time with God the Father so that He could get back replenished to give back to the hungry crowd.

  8. Interesting post; thanks for sharing. I don’t see self-care as being selfish though, at least not in the way that a lot of people talk about it. It’s about making sure you are resting and taking care of yourself sometimes instead of always living for other people.

    -Lauren

  9. I love this! Your post really helped me see another perspective and I appreciate your point of view about self care!

  10. Thank you!! I could not agree more. I see mom after mom talking about self care on Facebook and it drives me nuts! Take care of your kids people! Okay okay… seriously thank you for this perspective and for pointing us back to the Lord. We are a selfish people by nature. I’m so thankful the Lord still loves us.

  11. Although I don’t agree, I appreciate the different perspective you’ve taken on the term, “self care.” To me self care isn’t necessarily selfish because we cannot be all that we need to unless we take care of ourselves first. I also believe that self care is different for everyone, and that’s what makes it so important.

  12. Amen! I am totally in the same place as you! I don’t need 100 ways to take care of myself. I need 100 ways to care for others. I agree that we don’t need to be taught to love ourselves at all. Sometimes as moms though we do need reminding to rest physically and emotionally from motherhood and it’s never ending to-do lists. But finding time to relax without letting it turn into selfishness and sloth is hard. Great Christ-centered post.

  13. While I can respect the point you’re making, I have to disagree. I don’t think that taking care of yourself should be portrayed as selfish or vain. Just because the Bible doesn’t command us to do it, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t. However, I think that can speak to how we should prioritize self-care in our lives. Our ministries, such as church and family, should maybe come before personal self-care, but that will look different for every family.

  14. Some great discussion in your comments, my friend. Well written and I was struck w/ the 1 to 6 ratio you brought out: yes, God provides the outlet to regroup and refresh – honor one day out of the seven and life balance works. Only since Moses – ha! Love this, too:Because loving our neighbors as ourselves? It’s hard, holy work.
    Bottom line for me: God is more interested in my sitting (at His feet) than my serving. it’s a heart thing and a time thing: God first, then He will show us how to serve, when to serve, how to love, etc. So sitting first every day, deny myself every day, take a day to rest once a week, and God will take care of the rest and my rest. (: Super post.

  15. Such a great perspective and one I’ve wholeheartedly argued as well. However, I’m coming to a place where I can see self care as quite unselfish, butmore as a duty of stewardship to make sure I’m also well physically and emotionally to care for others. God commanded a sabbath, a very self care idea in fact. And when I reject self care what I’m really rejecting is the humility of my humanity. I can’t be all things to all people, nor should I presume such self importance to think I must seek that. Be still. Rest. Let God.

    • God definitely has given us a means to rest and refresh our souls (The Sabbath) but often, that’s not what I see talked about when we approach self-care. If we are going to have a Biblical approach, we need to reclaim the narrative, take the Sabbath seriously, and then follow Christ’s model in serving others, even when it’s hard and we’re tired.

  16. Yeeeessss!! Every time I see one of those, “you can’t pour from from an empty cup” posts, I think, “Yes, you can! And you should!”
    So glad someone said this!

  17. I’ve been diagnosed with 3 chronic illnesses which cause a lot of pain, fatigue and other symptons. I was also diagnosed with depression which at times has been extremely challenging to deal with. After a particularly bad recent depressive episode, I started reading about self care and have been slowly trying to do this. I do not think this is selfish of me or anyone else that chooses this as another tool to use to live with their condition.

    While going through this recent episode, I’ve added not able nor did I even want to anything for myself or anyone else. How can something that can possibly help me to care for others, connect with others be considered selfis? I was barely taking care of mysel, my house. I was sleeping on average 2 nights a week ( even with being on sleeping pills and all my other drugs. Hardly a day passed that I wasn’t in uncontrollable tears. I barely left my house.
    Since hearing about been doing simple things like trying to include certain activities (painting, baking, writing)plus a few other things into my routine. I’m learning how to use them when I see certain thought patterns or even physical symptons and I’m seeing improvements.

    I’m pleased you wrote this though because I definitely won’t be mentioning it to anyone in Church (even if it could help them) if this is the way it’s going to be viewed by the Christian community.

    I’m struggling to understand how God who knows me more than anyone, knows my heart in regard to others, plus my health circumstances would consider this as selfish. Perhaps I don’t know enough about self care strategies but I know I have been doing simple which don’t cost much or take up too much time.

    • Paula, I don’t know if you’re very familiar with my story, but I also have been diagnosed with chronic illnesses and depression. I am very familiar with that plight. Obviously, these are extenuating circumstances and not the typical way self-care is approached. As I am in a season where (thankfully) I am doing better healthwise, I’ve realized that so much of self-care is targetted to feeding my selfishness, not taking care of myself. In your case, and in the case of chronic illness, this isn’t self-care as much as medical care. Obviously, you need to take care of yourself.

      I hoped to point out the tendency that we all, myself foremost of all, have to put ourselves before others. I’m truly sorry if you felt like I was condemning medical care.

      • Thanks for the response. I’ve only ever read about self care as a means of helping depression and chronic pain. Medical care is completely different. The word medical says it all.this was not prescribed by my Dr. Medical care is not something I do to help my self. Self care is just that and meant to be therapeutic, Perhaps your post should make the differentiation as to what you mean. This post left me extremely upset and confused and almost ashamed to admit that’s what I have to do sometimes to get through a day. I do help others when I can, but the reality is I practice self care so I can be in a position to help others more. I know other Christians who are struggling and would benefit from self care but many, especially new Christians can easily read this post and feel like this so wrong based on the scriptures you quoted. Yes, we are all selfish, but I also know my body is a temple of the Holy Spirit. I need to care take of it and sometimes that will include things other than popping pills which quite over the years have not helped and brought other medical problems.

        Like I said I only came across self care on depression sites, but you made no clarification on your post as to what YOU defined self car tot be or any examples of self care that you consider to be selfish.
        Perhaps you could a post self care itself. Self care as you see it or say it is being portrayed (with the scriptures to back it up your points) and self care as a means of therapy that people like myself are using.
        Don’t forget there are a lot if vulnerable people like myself out there. I now find myself questioning what I’ve been doing / wondering I’m just making excuses for myself and basically I’ve stopped doing things. Its all been very upsetting. I’ve prayed about this I feel the result was to suggest the blog post.
        I’m sorry if this all comes across as rude. That’s not my intention, but your post really did throw me. I’ve stopped doing some stuff, but quite frankly in spite of prayers, I’m no better.

        I’m sorry but

      • THanks for your response because I must say your post has really thrown me. It’s left me very hurt and confused and now questioning myself, my motives, do I really need to be doing this, and a host of other of issues swirling around in my mind.

        I’m fairly new to the term self care and have only ever heard or seen it used in relation to caring for and helping heal oneself with health issues on sites for depression and MS. I have to disagree with you and say medical care is something entirely different. Medical care is what I get from my neurologist and other medical professionals. They prescribe pills, medication. Never have they prescribed what I now practice as self care. Perhaps Drs in the US do, not here. Self care is what I do for myself by myself to help my condition in addition to the pills and other medical treatments. Your post did not differentiate between the two, so you can see the source of my confusion.
        A new Christian hoping to use self care as suggested on some depression websites, and reading your post and your scriptures could possibly find this so confusing. I’m not a new Christia, and as I said it did really throw me as right now I’m going through a particularly rough time both physically and mentally. It just left me doubtful about everything. I do help others when I can, but others times I need to do self care just for some sanity and peace. Your post made doubt my right and need to do that. There are a lot of vulnerable people out there.

        This really affected me, so I have been praying about it, and so was spurred to write a suggestion. Perhaps you can consider writing a post on self care and first of all define it, so all your readers are on he same page. You could discuss self care in the way you see it as being selfish or the way you say the media is protraying it with the scriptures to support. But then also acknowledge the other ways people are using and defining self care out tere as a means for self healing, self therapy in order that they can serve and help others at some point. No, the Bible has no scripture on loving our selves but our body is temple of thevHoly Spirit, so we do need to take care of it. I’m going to conclude by saying that sLumping the term in one box, without definingit, quoting scripture is not helpful and in my case has quite truthfully set me back with all the confusion.
        Here’s how one site not related to any health issues has chosen to define self care. I quite like it.And it’s nitvselfish.

        “True self care is not salt baths and chocolate cake, it is making the choice to not build a life you don’t need to regularly escape from”

  18. I really appreciate the reminder from Philippians chapter 2. I am also glad you pointed out the fact that Jesus rested. I do believe that God calls us to rest in Him. I think there is a fine line between self-care and self-indulgence. I also think that there is a fine line between selflessness and self-sacrifice. Service can be an idol, just like anything else. I hear the call to holiness in this post; there must be balance between grace and holiness–which can be difficult to convey. But I think you’ve done it beautifully here.

    The last two lines are my favorite, especially when you reference the Living Water. When you are filled with and led by the Holy Spirit, you are empowered to do the impossible and replenished time and time again. When you seek Him first, the Lord will take care of your needs.

1d4a7af8d08de24801fc74d62774cf0a8fadd0f88f77b989ab