“You’re done working and raising your kids—it’s your time now.”
“It’s okay to be selfish: you have to take care of you above all else.”
“Put yourself first for once.”
We hear these opinions on a near-daily basis, but we must ask ourselves if they are rooted in truth. They sound good…or at the very least, reasonable. How can you take care of others if you don’t take care of yourself first? And what’s wrong with a little “me time,” especially once you’ve hit retirement?
However, the answer is a resounding, “No—these oft-well-intentioned sayings are absolutely not grounded in truth.” As already mentioned, these principles may sound, in theory, like decent ideas: in fact, they truly do! But Biblically, they are not, because the Bible and the God Who inspired it are to be our measures for truth. Our human minds tell us, “Ya know what? Everyone’s right. I do need to take some time to focus on me: maybe lose some weight, take a break from work, get away from the kids for a while.” And while these things aren’t in-and-of-themselves bad, creating an environment where it’s all about you just isn’t Biblical or even healthy!
Some dare to take it even further, to the point of affecting relationships: “I need to stop focusing on my spouse so much; I need to get back to me. I don’t feel like my own person anymore. I’m doing more to support them, and it’s sucking the life out of me. I can’t handle this anymore.”
But the Bible is quite clear: “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves” (Philippians 2:3, NIV). That seems quite clear. In fact, Merriam-Webster states that the verb form of “value” means “to consider or rate highly,” with “prize” and “esteem” considered synonyms (https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/value). Some Bible translators actually do use the word “esteem,” which, in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary as a verb means, “to set a high value on” (https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/esteem).
Note that God, through Paul, doesn’t put this forth as an option: it is a command to value or esteem others as better than ourselves. That doesn’t leave much room for, “It’s time to be selfish and work on me.”
By all means, work on you—lose a few pounds; work on your outlook on life; get a babysitter and have a date night with your spouse—but don’t lose sight of the fact that you still need to put others first. In serving others, we will find our joy. There is truth to the fact that anyone can get burned out. However, the resolution is rather simple: take time, every day, to fuel up on the Holy Spirit. Let Him fill you through Bible reading and prayer, as you spend time basking in the Lord’s presence, and you will then be able to pour out upon others what you received from God.