The phrase “take care of yourself” is often heard today, but how to find time to do that in today’s world? For many Christians, the idea of self-care sounds contrary to the command of Jesus to deny themselves and follow him. How exactly do believers balance these two seemingly opposite pursuits?
Author April Yamasaki explores this contradiction in Four Gifts: Seeking Self-Care for Heart, Soul, Mind and Strength, released by Herald Press in September.
Drawing on the ancient scriptural command to love God with heart, soul, mind and strength, Yamasaki, who is pastor of Emmanuel Mennonite Church in Abbotsford, B.C., helps readers to think about the spiritual dimensions of attending to their own needs and to find true rest in a fast-paced world. She weaves together personal stories, biblical and theological insights, questions for reflection and practical ideas for self-care. Four Gifts helps readers sustain their spirits and balance competing demands without adding more items to their to-do lists.
“I know I need self-care, yet can’t always get there,” writes Yamasaki. “I need a bigger vision of caring for myself that also embraces caring for others and surrendering myself to God’s call and care.”
She addresses specific challenges like setting priorities, living in a digital world, dealing with worry and getting a good night’s sleep. “Our minds find renewal as we learn, serve and rest,” she says. “At its best, self-care is a way of life, a gift that sustains each of us as we serve God and serve other people.”
“In Four Gifts, Yamasaki’s powerful insights are on brilliant display,” says Christena Cleveland, author of Disunity in Christ. “With an integrative mind-body-spirit approach, Yamasaki leads us on a journey that is worth following.”
Dorcas Cheng-Tozun, author of Start, Love, Repeat, writes that Four Gifts is “the most thorough and thoughtful exploration of self-care I have ever come across.”
Yamasaki focusses her writing on spiritual growth and Christian living. A member of Redbud Writers Guild, she is the author of, or contributor to, 15 books, including Sacred Pauses, Upside-Down Living: Sharing Faith Stories, Spark: Igniting Your God-Given Creativity and Ordinary Time with Jesus. Her work has also appeared in Canadian Mennonite and Christian Century. Yamasaki has more than 20 years of experience as a congregational pastor, and leads workshops and Bible studies in denominational and other settings.