Read Acts 20:28-31
28 Keep watch over yourselves and over all the flock,of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers,to shepherd the church of God that he obtained with the blood of his own Son. 29 I know that after I have gone,savage wolves will come in among you,not sparing the flock. 30 Some even from your own group will come distorting the truth in order to entice the disciples to follow them. 31 Therefore be alert,remembering that for three years I did not cease night or day to warn everyone with tears. (NRSV)
We sometimes hear of people who think nothing of themselves but instead selflessly care for others. It is others who matter,not they themselves. This sounds rather noble and seems to reflect Christian teaching which is about putting others’ interests above your own. But it is in fact a dangerous half-truth.
If I am to care for others I have to be caring for myself. Paul makes this clear in our passage for today. It is a common issue among church leaders: they can be so busily conscientious in caring for others that they neglect their own spiritual,emotional and physical health. But this very thing affects all of us. We need to keep watch over ourselves.
At the very least this includes adequate rest and sleep and leisure. It can include ‘treating’ ourselves,doing what we love doing for the pleasure of it. This is not ‘selfish’,it is having a healthy regard for one’s value,a recognition God has given us a life to embrace rather than endure. Of course there are those whose lives seem to allow for no such things,at least for a season as they are given over to sacrificially caring for others.
But even then,wearing oneself out in such care doesn’t ultimately do the cared-for individual much good. We are to obey God and put ourselves out for others-note that this is what Paul describes himself as doing in this text. But we best do this as we watch over ourselves. Seeing yourself as the supreme somebody is egocentric sinfulness. Seeing yourself as a nobody is defiance of God’s estimate of us.