There is a song that I love by an artist named Andrew Peterson titled, Be Kind to Yourself. It is a beautiful ode to the reality that we are often far harder on ourselves than we would ever be on another person (if you’ve never heard it, stop reading and go listen to it right now!).

My favorite lines from the song are:

“How does it end when the war that you’re in is just you against you against you?

You’ve got to learn to love your enemies, too.”

This is the truth for all of us. How will our days and weeks and months end if we are constantly at war with ourselves? As a therapist and pastor, I spend a fair amount of time encouraging the people I work with to be kind to themselves. I have to constantly remind myself to do this, too.

Being kind to ourselves is hard but necessary.

Why should we be kind to ourselves? This is a more important question than most of us realize.

It seems obvious to us that we should be kind to others. This is because we have been taught to be kind and Scripture calls us to love our neighbor and our enemy. If I were to ask you if being kind to yourself is important, it is likely you would say yes. It is equally likely your actions would tell another story.

When was the last time you had a positive thought about yourself?

When was the last time you had a critical thought about yourself?

If you’re anything like me, the second question is much easier to answer.

So why should we be kind to ourselves? Because we spend more time with ourselves than we do with anyone else. Because our self-talk is a primary driver of our happiness and life satisfaction. Because we are created in God’s image for His glory and as image bearers, kindness is something to which we are called. Paul names kindness as a fruit of the Spirit! We can all agree that life is better when we are kind to ourselves and those around us.

The question then becomes, how can we be kind to ourselves? Here are 3 suggestions.

1. START CHALLENGING THE NEGATIVE THOUGHTS YOU HAVE ABOUT YOURSELF.

We all have negative thoughts. Thoughts about how badly we messed up our sermon or how our odd handshake definitely weirded out the new visitor we had last Sunday. The more of these thoughts we have, the more negative our thought process is in general.

What we can do about this is begin challenging those thoughts (aka take them captive a la 2 Corinthians 10:15) and treat them like a court case. Find evidence they are true and evidence they are false. Act as your own jury in deciding how accurate your negative thoughts are. And when you discover they are false, find a replacement thought that builds you up.

2. DO SOMETHING KIND FOR YOURSELF.

When was the last time you did something kind for yourself? When was the last time you enjoyed your favorite takeout, watched your favorite show, or left the kids with your spouse and enjoyed a 10-minute walk outside on a beautiful day? Our lives are often so hectic and hurried that we neglect to do kind things for ourselves. We are simply “too busy.” Take 10 minutes and do something kind for yourself today. It can be anything big or small so long as it builds you up.

3. FORGIVE YOURSELF.

We all carry around choices we have made or actions we have taken that we regret. I know this from personal experience. These can be heavy weights around our necks. They can drag us down into despair. As pastors and church leaders, we spend a lot of time talking about forgiveness. We preach about Christ’s forgiveness of our sins. We counsel others to forgive those who have hurt them. We encourage those who have others to seek forgiveness. But we often carry around our regrets like millstones.

It’s time to forgive yourself. This doesn’t mean you excuse the choice or forget the action. It means making a conscious choice to set it down and leave it behind. It means extending the grace and mercy to yourself that Jesus has already offered and given to you. Forgive yourself.

Being kind to ourselves is an important ability as a pastor or church leader. It is a way to build ourselves up to become the people God calls us to be so that we can lead the way he calls us to lead.

So put down your phone, close your laptop, and go be kind to yourself.

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Josh Cervone

Family Ministries Pastor at Beacon EFC
Josh Cervone has been pastoring at Beacon Church since 2018 when he was hired to lead Family Ministries. Since then he has also begun leading the Communications ministry. Prior to his time at Beacon, he worked as a case manager and clinical social worker in a variety of inpatient and outpatient mental health settings and was blessed to be able to see how he could minister within those contexts. He has been married to his wife, Rebecca, since 2009 and they have been blessed with five kids. They have four boys and a girl and love watching them grow and develop. In his free time, you will likely find him out and about with his family, reading, or going for a walk around Galloway.

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1 Comment

  1. Matt Saxinger on June 5, 2024 at 7:03 pm

    Appreciate the insight Josh, thanks!

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