Just for Dads ~ December 2021
by Ward Williams
Executive director, Vineyard Family Services
photo by Shiromani Kant/Upsplash
At the beginning of each year, new personal improvement resolutions are taking shape in the minds of many Americans. There seems to be a self-help/self-care section in every bookstore, from the big chains to local mom-and-pop stores. Almost every nonprofit ministry conference I have attended during the past 20 years offered self-care breakout sessions or general sessions addressing this topic.
My wife recently attended a continuing education seminar for teachers via Zoom, where I happened to overhear a session speaker discussing self-care. Teachers have a very difficult job and face pressures every day that can lead to burnout as they serve kids and families. Staying emotionally and mentally healthy is necessary. During the two minutes I listened, the presenter told attendees that if the only time you can get a pedicure is during a kid’s sporting event, it is okay to skip your child’s sporting event and get the pedicure. Admittedly, I only heard a snippet of the speech and don’t know the context, but I think that is terrible advice.
The reason there are so many self-help/self-care books is that we have not figured out how to take care of ourselves, and the advice we get on this topic is often not very helpful. There is a fine line between taking care of self and being self-absorbed, entitled, or selfish. There are no classes to teach preschool children how to think about themselves, but we are born with a certain degree of selfishness. It would not surprise me if this generation is described as the selfie generation by future generations. We must be extremely selective about who we take advice from and who we let speak into our lives. As parents, it is important to teach our children to think of others above themselves.
At 14, I was hired as a bus boy, and since then I have worked in the service, ministry, nonprofit fields. I know that balancing service and taking care of oneself is important. There is a motto that was popular in my teen and college years that proclaimed, “I am third.” The order is: Christ, others, me. In the Bible, the third chapter of John speaks about the necessity of God becoming more while we become less. We will never live in a world without trials and troubles, and the self-utopia, self-actualization promoted by self-care/self-help books is a fantasy. Don’t believe the lie that it will ever make you happy. Serving God, family, and others in a reciprocal, healthy way is a worthwhile goal.
Ward Williams is the founder and executive director of Vineyard Family Services. Contact him at email@example.com.