Before we talk about how to prioritize soul care, we need to define what it actually is.

Think of soul care as the spiritual version of self care. The world sees self care as one of the most effective ways to fight anxiety and depression as well as minimize the symptoms of stress. If you’re a believer though, you know that there is no amount of self care that will remedy whatever strife you’re feeling if your soul isn’t at peace. Self care without soul care is just a bandaid on a gaping wound. The soul must always be tended to first.

Matthew 14:23 reads,

“And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone. But the boat by this time was a long way from the land.”

After so many sermons preached, miles walked, and miracles performed, Jesus knew what he needed was to go meet with his Father. Jesus, who was also God, did something so selfless when He basically took His deity, wrapped it up, and set it to the side so that He could live fully as man while here on earth. And as a man He experienced the same struggles we are up against, but to an even greater extent than we can imagine. I’m sure Jesus often ended His day feeling depleted by people, by His circumstances, and by the many demands on his life. When He felt that way He knew what to do, and it’s the same things we must do. Using His example in Matthew 14 we see five ways we can be intentional about caring for our soul so that we can do the work of the Lord and run fully in the calling He has given us.

1. Jesus withdrew from the crowd.

Jesus withdrew from the crowd (and His disciples) because in order to lead people well, we sometimes need a break from them. It’s much more challenging to be ready to lavish one another with grace, and stir each other up to good works, when we live our life constantly tending to the needs of the masses. People are the point when it comes to our ministry on earth, but they cannot distract us from our purpose. Leading well is not a result of being a great leader, but being a great follower of Jesus.

Soul care is sometimes withdrawing from those you’re leading.

2. Jesus climbed a mountain.

I really love that even though Jesus could have gone to His tent and zipped up the door (did they even have zippers yet?) or went and hid behind a rock to get alone with God, He chose to take a walk up a beautiful mountain. My husband was recently in Israel and was able to visit the mountain they believe Jesus climbed up to pray, and he said it was stunning. I don’t know if you’re anything like me but there’s something about moving my body that always elicits worship, and then add to it beautiful scenery, and I always feel the presence of the Lord in a powerful way.

Soul care is moving your body and taking notice of God’s creation.

3. Jesus spent time alone.

Bible studies and discipleship groups are incredible and you should be involved in them when possible. But there is also something really special about your time alone with God. Jesus had been doing a lot of preaching and teaching in both small and large groups. The Bible tells us that He was one with His Father, and yet Jesus still felt it necessary to get alone with God.

Soul care is getting alone with the Lord.

4. Jesus prayed.

Do you find time to talk to God, just you and Him? When you’re exhausted and overwhelmed, do you find yourself craving a conversation with Him? What a beautiful and miraculous thing it is to have God available to us at all times. Communication with the Lord is one of the greatest ways to build an intimate relationship with Him; one that will provide your soul with an immeasurable amount of peace.

Soul Care is telling God everything.

5. Jesus walked on water.

When we think of soul care, it’s easy to think it always requires retreating, but soul care is also action. After Jesus had time with His Father, He left the mountain and performed one of the most amazing miracles we read about in scripture when He walked on water and had that beautiful exchange with Peter (Matthew 4:28-31).

Soul Care is doing what the Lord has called you to do.

Maybe you’ve tried all of the self care, but you find yourself still experiencing overwhelm and spiritual unrest. If that’s the case, it might be wise to be intentional about caring for your soul. You see, unlike self care, soul care isn’t the prioritization of ourselves, but rather the prioritization of our Heavenly Father. And when we seek Him first like Matthew 6:33 tells us to do, He promises to order everything else. What a sweet comfort that should bring us.