Healthy Self Care

This is a summarized version of the content presented in the Healthy Self Care course. To dive deeper into this topic, check out the full Healthy Self Care course.


Self care is vitally important for success in discipleship and ministry, yet it is so often viewed as optional or unimportant.

Good self-care guards our heart from vulnerability to the predictable schemes of the enemy. It prevents burnout so we can enjoy longevity in productive ministry. Self-care enables us to lead from a place of strength and clarity. It gives us the ability to lead others to healthy self-care by example.

A Biblical Case for Healthy Self Care

With all it’s needs, weaknesses, fragilities, and limitations – God took on a human body. If we’re not careful we can buy into a kind of modern-day gnostic heresy, where we deny the value of the body and the reality of our need to care for it.

The idea of denying oneself is often twisted into a case against good self care. However, denying oneself does not mean living in denial about your humanity. That’s not what Jesus did and it’s not what He’s asking you to do. God made you a human being with physical and emotional needs. Sleep, nutrition, exercise, and emotional refreshment are not luxuries or self-indulgences to squeeze in if you have time.

Accepting your God given limits and actively choosing to receive God’s gifts of Sabbath rest, food, play, and solitude are acts of worship and obedience.

Self-care isn’t selfish or self-indulgent, it’s good stewardship of the resource of our body that enables us to make the best use of it and the time God has given us. It’s a spiritual discipline that acknowledges the realities of our finite bodies and worships God through taking care of the gift He has given us, so we can accomplish the good works He’s prepared in advance for us.

Loving Jesus first and taking up your cross daily doesn’t mean neglecting the needs God made your body with. It’s about crucifying your sinful attempts at being your own God. It may seem odd but neglecting self-care to push yourself beyond your God given limits can actually feed a sinful craving for self-sufficiency. So often our pride gets in the way, ultimately leaving us weak and vulnerable to the attacks of the enemy.

To dive deeper into this topic of self care, check out the full Healthy Self Care course.

The Effects of Sin

The root of everything wrong with our life and the world around us is sin. But it’s not always what you think. There are three different dynamics to sin that each effect every one of us in different ways.

  1. Personal Sin – There’s no doubt that personal sin leads to all sorts of suffering and struggle in our life. The antidote is humble repentance before God and accepting the forgiveness Jesus offers through his substitutional atonement for our sin on the cross.
  2. The Sin of Others – The impact we experience from the sins of others can have a tremendous effect on our thoughts, feelings, and relationships. Identifying and understanding these wounds opens the doors to healing. Forgiveness is important, but forgiving you for hitting me in the head with a board doesn’t make the lump on my head or the stars I’m seeing immediately go away. Sometimes healing requires more than just forgiveness.
  3. Sins Effect on Nature – When sin entered the world back in the garden of Eden it brought with it disease, decay, and ultimately death. It affects every aspect of creation, including our bodies. It’s why we are on a course to die from the moment we are birthed. It’s why some are born with defects, predispositions towards anger or addiction, or proneness to sickness or depression.

Our brain is an organ, just like any other organ in our body. Somehow, we tend to take the difficulties our brain organ faces more personally than that of our kidneys or liver. We interpret struggles of anxiety or depression as a personal failure. Perhaps that is because sometimes personal sin can contribute to these struggles as well. It would be a mistake though to see all emotional or mental health struggles through the lens of personal sin. Very often it has more to do with the frailties of our sin-affected human body than personal sin alone.

Thinking Holistically

The takeaway is this: When trying to understand “the root” of the struggles we or others face we need to look at the person holistically. If we are going to care for ourselves or those we lead well, it is necessary to consider not only the impact of personal sin, but also that of the sins of others and sins impact on the body.

Likewise, when approaching prevention or care for a struggle, we need to think holistically.

Continuum of Care is a term borrowed from the medical community. It describes an array of different levels of care spanning from preventive education and checkups to more intense interventions. The idea is that if a person can be educated on the value of brushing, flossing, and regular cleanings, then the pain, distraction, and expense of a root canal can, in many cases, be avoided.

When applied to discipleship and healthy leaders, the goal is to promote productive ministry and to prevent as much pain as is possible through good education, identifying potential struggles early, and connecting people quickly with resources at just the right level of support to avoid bigger problems down the road.

As a rule, prevention and early identification allows for faster, easier, and less expensive addressing of an issue. Which, in turn, means less loss of productivity, distraction from effective ministry, and greater enjoyment of life.


Cheering you on!

Josh Spurlock, MA, LPC, CST
Founder & Director of MyCounselor.Online

To dive deeper into this topic of self care, check out the full Healthy Self Care course.

More Resources on Self Care

Preventing Burnout

This is a summarized version of the content presented in the Preventing Burnout course. To dive deeper into this topic, check out the full Preventing Burnout course.


Have you ever experienced burnout? It’s a state of mental and physical exhaustion, caused by excessive and prolonged stress.

There are three stages of burnout:

  1. Stressed: Characterized by anxiety symptoms.
  2. Overwhelmed: Characterized by decreasing performance, increased negativity, withdrawal, and attempts to medicate the symptoms.
  3. Crispy: Characterized by depression symptoms.

While the process can be stopped at any point, it’s generally in the crispy stage that people begin to sense that something is wrong.

What Causes Burnout?

There are several factors that can contribute to burnout:

  • Bad Theology
    • Many Christians have gotten the message that to deny oneself means to live in denial of one’s humanity. Somewhere along the line we got the message that serving wholeheartedly means neglecting the needs God has created our bodies with as well as the command to regularly practice sabbath rest.
  • Misplaced Priorities, Identity, Value, and Worth
    • When our priorities, identity, value, or worth are misplaced, we feel the only way to have significance or be worthy is to work without ceasing. We can never do enough, and we feel guilty if we aren’t working. We need to achieve or to please others. This need to earn our worth or the approval and acceptance of others drives us to an unhealthy, out of balance life. Our fear of disappointing others or failure causes us to say “Yes” when we should say “No”.
  • Unrealistic Expectations
    • For some the answer to “How much should I give?” is always MORE. Nothing is ever good enough and we live with a constant feeling of guilt, that we aren’t doing enough.
  • Poor Work and Personal Boundaries
    • Many of us struggle to know when we should say YES and how to say NO. As a result, we commit ourselves to more than we should, and we allow others control our lives.
  • Inadequate Self-Care
    • You cannot give what you do not have. You cannot lead others where you yourself have not gone. If you do not take good care of yourself, how then do you love others “in the same way” you do yourself and have that be a blessing to them?

To dive deeper into this topic of burnout, check out the full Preventing Burnout course.

How Can We Prevent Burnout?

The only way to live life to the fullest, as God intends for you, is to be diligent about spiritual, physical, emotional, and intellectual self-care.

Spiritual Self Care
Spiritual self-care is about making space in your life to pursue an ever-deepening relationship with our King. While discipline and structure are helpful, you have to resist “checking the box”. Give yourself permission to stop what isn’t working and pursue connection with God in ways that give life to your soul. Make space in your life to learn of the spiritual disciplines of saints of old, both the ones in your life and those you can read about.

Physical Self Care
Neglecting the care of our body inhibits our ability to serve God and enjoy life to its fullest. The four main components of physical self care are exercise, diet, sleep, and rest.

Emotional Self Care
How you manage your emotional energy is HUGELY influential in your ability to engage life effectively. There are things that increase your emotional energy reserves and things that drain them. Being familiar with the two and judicious about navigating them is key.

Understand that unresolved conflict and wounds from your life experiences don’t just go away if you ignore them. Good emotional self care involves taking the time to find healing and resolution to these things so you don’t keep carrying them around.

Have Boundaries. Know the people and activities that charge your batteries emotionally and those that drain you. Place limits on the people and activities that drain you, so they don’ suck you dry, and be intentional about making time for the people and activities that add to your emotional energy reserves.

Intellectual Self Care
Keep learning. God gave you a brain, an intellect you are either growing it or it is atrophying, there’s no staying in the same place. Use it or lose it. The business of life can seem to leave no time for professional or educational development, but it’s important. Read books, articles, listen to podcast, watch videos, take classes. Leaders are readers.

Appreciate the candid feedback of others and seek out thoughtful dissenting voices. You may not agree with them but learning to listen and earnestly ask questions will guarantee you learn a lot and make better decisions.

Moving Forward

If you’re already deep into burnout you may need to take an extended break, anywhere from a week vacation to a year sabbatical, to revive and re-calibrate your life. If you don’t, you leave yourself vulnerable to the attacks of the enemy.

Until your death or the return of our King, you have value to offer. Don’t allow the enemy to convince you otherwise or prematurely knock you out of the race. Be aware of the schemes of our enemy and develop the self care disciplines that will empower a lifetime of effective Kingdom ministry.

Cheering you on!


Josh Spurlock, MA, LPC, CST
Founder & Director of MyCounselor.Online

To dive deeper into this topic of burnout, check out the full Preventing Burnout course.

More Resources on Preventing Burnout:

Interpersonal Communication – Part 3 | Skills for Effective Interpersonal Communication

This is a summarized version of the content presented in the Effective Interpersonal Communication course. To dive deeper into this topic, check out the full Effective Interpersonal Communication course.



Good communication is a skill set, not something you are born with. That’s good news! It means no matter who you are, you can learn to be good at interpersonal communication. Let’s look at the skills that go into good interpersonal communication.

Skills for Effective Interpersonal Communication

Reflective Listening
Reflective listening is THE basic skill in good communication. It’s simple, but not necessarily easy. There are three parts to reflective listening:
  1. Speaker: The tough job of the speaker is knowing what’s going on inside of you. You can’t share with another person what you are thinking and feeling if you don’t know. 
  2. Listener: As listener, the tough job is staying focused on what the speaker is sharing. Inevitably, as the speaker begins to talk you are going to have numerous thoughts pop up: “That’s not how I remember it.” “That’s not what I said, and I know that’s not what I meant.” “Why do you think that?” etc. 
  3. Reflection: Reflection is the listener’s opportunity to confirm with the speaker that what they heard is in fact what the speaker was trying to say. It’s a brief synopsis of what the speaker communicated, focused primarily on the emotions (since those are often what gets lost). You reflect the FACTS (“so when you heard and saw…”), and the STORY (“you understood that to mean…”), then the FEELINGS (“which left you feeling…”).
Body Language
Body language plays an important role in communication. It either communicates respect and an earnest desire to hear and understand the other, or a disinterested disrespect.


Appropriate Medium

With today’s technology it can be really tempting to have serious conversations by way of text or messaging – DON’T DO IT. It does not set things up for success. Refuse to have emotionally charged conversations by text or email.

Choose a Helpful Time and Place

Trying to engage a serious conversation when either of you are hungry, stressed out, tired, or focused on something else where you can’t give your undivided attention – is a bad idea. Our mental fatigue does not put us or them in a position to have the best shot at a positive outcome.

Ask Permission

Ask permission to engage a conversation – “I would like to talk with you about what happened with…, is now a good time or when would be?” This respects the other person, who may or may not be ready to engage the conversation in a healthy way.

Understand, then Understood

Seek first to understand, then to be understood. You always have a better chance of being heard and understood if you first endeavor to have the other person feel heard and understood.

Don’t Say “I Understand”

Saying “I understand” doesn’t communicate understanding. All it conveys is that you think you understand. Demonstrate that you truly understand by reflecting what you heard and asking for confirmation from the other person that what you believe you understand is indeed what they were trying to say.


Failure to prepare is preparing for failure. The wise person takes time to reflect on their path to action and to try to put themselves in the other’s shoes, prior to engaging the conversation.

Get Counsel

God has placed people in your life with wisdom and perspective; don’t rob yourself of the benefit of it.

Avoid Triangulation and Gossip

Triangulation and gossip are different than seeking wise counsel. If you have a concern with Patty, you need to have a conversation with Patty. You might talk with Margaret about the matter, but only for the earnest intent of helping you have a better conversation with Patty.


Prayer, of course, is a must for effective communication around emotionally charged subjects. We need the Lord’s help and His help is available if we only ask. King Jesus wants us to show up, and we want to represent Him well in how we navigate difficult conversations. We can count on His help when we ask.

Overt vs Covert

Good communication requires you using your words to share your thoughts, feelings, and desires. Don’t buy into the lie/misbelief “If they really cared about me they would know or remember.” This only robs you and them of the joy of giving and receiving. It does not lose its meaning if you actually have to use your words instead of them reading your mind.

On the other side, if it seems like someone is trying to say something without actually saying it, just ask, “Are you trying to say…?” They may say no even if you think that is in fact what they are implying. It’s best to take what they say at face value, the words they actually say, rather than trying to read between the lines.

Know When to Take a Break

Time outs are for grown-ups too. It is your responsibility to a) know when you need to take a break because you are not able to show up at your best, b) recognize when it does not appear to you that the other person is able to show up well and take a break.

Understanding vs Agreement

Too often we confuse understanding with agreement. We can have this false belief that if someone really understood us, certainly they would agree with us. If you find yourself on the other side of one of these conversations, where the other person keeps repeating themselves, recognize they don’t feel understood. Use reflection to confirm whether or not you are in fact understanding what they are saying. Contrast your vantage point with theirs to see if it’s a matter of misunderstanding or a matter of disagreement.

Humbly Accept the Fallibility of Memory

The best we can do is honestly share, “This is what I remember,” accepting that our remembrance is not infallible. We “know” what we remember, not necessarily “what we saw,” or what actually happened. Our highest degree of confidence should be, “I am certain this is what I remember,” which may or may not be completely accurate to the facts. Humility requires we accept the fallibility of our memory.

Respect Difference

Healthy, mature adults can be OK in relationship with people who are different than them. Unhealthy, undifferentiated individuals need agreement. They can’t be OK if the other person thinks, feels, or remembers differently about something that feels significant to them.

Avoid Inflammatory Words/Phrases

Be intentional about choosing words that don’t cloud the matter or derail the dialogue. Speak tentatively instead of in absolutes, especially around points that there might not be agreement.


To dive deeper into this topic of Effective Interpersonal Communication, check out the full Effective Interpersonal Communication course.

When the Other Person Isn’t an Effective Communicator

Some people are difficult to have conversations with. Fortunately, good communication doesn’t have to be a two-way street. You can actually engage in good and even highly skilled, highly effective communication with a person who is not as effective as you are. The following are some specific strategies for doing so.


  • Step-Out
    • When others move to silence or violence, notice the condition of the conversation (vs the content), then step out and Make It Safe. When safety is restored, go back to the issue (content) at hand to continue the dialogue.
  • Tell the Rest of the Story
    • When you feel yourself sliding out of dialogue into silence or violence ask yourself…
      • Am I either pretending not to or stubbornly choosing not to notice my role in the problem?
      • Why would a reasonable, rational, and decent human being do what this person has?
      • What’s most important to me? What would I do right now if I really wanted what’s most important to me?
  • Apologize, Contrast, Create Mutual Purpose

Effective interpersonal communication is key in ministry, leadership, and any relationship involving other human beings. It takes intentional effort to be good at it, but it’s worth it.

Cheering you on!

Josh Spurlock, MA, LPC, CST
Founder & Director of MyCounselor.Online

To dive deeper into this topic of Effective Interpersonal Communication, check out the full Effective Interpersonal Communication course.

More Resources on Effective Interpersonal Communication:

Interpersonal Communication – Part 2 | Childhood Wounds & The Stories We Tell


This is a summarized version of the content presented in the Effective Interpersonal Communication course. To dive deeper into this topic, check out the full Effective Interpersonal Communication course.


Bad communication habits obviously aren’t helpful for interpersonal communication. And while we can acknowledge this, it can often feel like we’re hooked into these bad communication habits. Why is that?

In order to understand our behavior, we must look at the path to action that lies behind it. 

The path to action is how we internalize information from outside our body, process it to make decisions, and take action. There are four components to it:

  1. Facts – This is all the information we take in through our 5 senses. Everything that we see, hear, taste, touch, smell comes into our brain at this stage.
  2. Story – In this phase, our brain assigns meaning to the data that our senses have collected. For example, sound waves that we here are turned into words being spoken to us. We not only deduce what the data is, but why it is. Not only what was said, but why the person said it. Not only what they did but what their intent was for doing it. Our brain puts together a story representing its best guess at what the data means, based on our previous life experiences.
  3. Feelings – Feelings have a physical, chemical existence in our body. This is quite different than how most of us view feelings, isn’t it? In fact, feelings are the product of our glands. Our glands make hormones, and release them into the bloodstream. Since our emotions are the product of our own body, we can exert great influence over them. The key is to understand the stories that are giving instructions to our glands. There is no way to change what it is we are feeling without changing the story that is creating the emotion. 
  4. Actions – Our actions are the results of the three previous stages. Our actions flow from our feelings, which are generated by our stories.
To dive deeper into this topic of Effective Interpersonal Communication, check out the full Effective Interpersonal Communication course.

Life Experience

Based on the path to action, the stories we tell ourselves really shape our lives. These stories we tell ourselves are shaped by our life experiences. Our brain draws from previous experiences to interpret our present experiences. These experiences; good, bad, or ugly, shape the lenses through which we see ourselves, others, and the world around us.

Everyone has wounds from previous life experiences. When physical, emotional, or spiritual needs are not met, it creates a wound in us.
or all of us, our life experience includes situations that have left us wounded. Some more severely than others. The question isn’t if you have wounds, but which wounds do you have and to what degree do they influence your life today.

What are these basic needs that, when unmet, create wounds?

Basic Safety/Security
We need to be safe and have our basic physical needs provided for. Having a safe place, free from excessive fear, allows us to develop our God-given potential. When this need is unmet we develop wounds of Abandonment or Mistrust and Abuse.

Connection to Others
We need healthy attachment to people, especially those closest to us. We need to receive attention from those we care about to feel connected emotionally with them. We also need a sense of connection socially with a community. When these needs are not met in healthy ways, we develop wounds of Emotional Deprivation and Social Exclusion.

God created us with a limited autonomy over our lives, including real choice – reflecting His unlimited autonomy and choice. We need to feel like we have the power to exist autonomously and the freedom to direct our lives, the ability to function independently as adults. Otherwise, we form wounds of Dependence and Vulnerability.

We need to feel like we have value and are worthwhile in our personal, social, and work lives. We need to know we have something of value to offer that gives a sense of purpose to our life. Otherwise we feel shame about who we are and develop wounds of Defectiveness and Failure.

God has given us a voice and a responsibility to demonstrate with our lives who He has created us to be in our generation. We have a need to be aware of and give expression to our needs, feelings, and passions. Our needs matter as much as the needs of the next person God created. God has designed us for fun and play as much as He has for work and service. We need freedom to live with spontaneity without inordinate inhibition. Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are reasonable endeavors. If self-expression is smothered or overly restricted, we form wounds of Subjugation and Unrelenting Standards.

Realistic Limits
God designed life to be lived within healthy limits and boundaries that honor His design. While we need self-expression without being overly controlled, we also need healthy limits. Otherwise, we seek the fulfillment of our needs and wants at the expense and disregard of others. God calls us to develop and exercise self-control, accepting realistic internal and external limits on our behavior. In the absence of this self-control we develop the wound Entitlement.

When Life Experiences Bump Into Wounds

When theses wounds are bumped into by life circumstances in our present, they evoke intense feelings of fear. It’s this fear that sends us into the silence or violence that sabotages our communication. Being aware of the things we are feeling, called “emotional intelligence,” enables us to communicate what we are feeling and to work through the stories that lay behind them.

Cheering you on!

Josh Spurlock, MA, LPC, CST
Founder & Director of MyCounselor.Online

To dive deeper into this topic of Effective Interpersonal Communication, check out the full Effective Interpersonal Communication course.

More Resources on Effective Interpersonal Communication:

Effective Interpersonal Communication – Part 1 | Understanding Bad Communication Habits

This is a summarized version of the content presented in the Effective Interpersonal Communication course. To dive deeper into this topic, check out the full Effective Interpersonal Communication course.



Communication is a regular part of everyday life. In school, we’re taught how to give speeches and present information. However, the most frequently used form of communication isn’t taught as a curriculum very often. What is it? Interpersonal communication.

Instead of learning interpersonal communication from a textbook, most of us were taught how to communicate through our parents’ own communication habits, whether for good or bad. That means we likely picked up bad communication habits along the way, which tend to show up in emotionally charged conversations.

In emotionally charged conversations, communication is difficult. We feel vulnerable and unsafe, so we go into a defensive mode. Our adrenal glands pump stress hormones into our blood stream causing a fight or flight response. It’s at this point the worst of our bad communication habits come out.

Bad Communication Habits

Common bad communication habits include:

  • Trying to multi-task: Trying to multi-task while communicating, especially around anything of significance, is a bad idea. You communication to the other person that they are not important enough for your full attention, and you don’t navigate the conversation to the best of your abilities.
  • Using the Wrong Medium: Technology is a terrible form of communication for any emotional conversation. If the subject is emotionally charged, call the person or meet up with them face to face, rather than texting them.
  • Inopportune timing: Sometimes addressing something immediately is needed, but oftentimes it is best to give yourself time to process and maybe seek counsel before engaging in the conversation. 
  • Failing to Prepare: When we don’t take the time to prepare for a conversation, we are setting it up for disaster.
  • Not Getting Counsel: God has placed people in our life that have experience and wisdom we can benefit from. Don’t neglect that.
  • Failure to Pray: God offers to come alongside us, helping us see things from His perspective, and empowering us by His Spirit. When we forget to ask Him into our conversation, it hinders us.
  • Poor Body Language: Non-verbal communication is crucial to master. Our tone of voice, facial expression, eye contact, mannerisms, and body posture all communicate something to the other person. Bad body language gets in the way of good communication.
  • Triangulation: This involves going to a third party to vent about someone, rather than talking to the person directly. It is not the same thing as seeking counsel, but rather seeks to avoid going to the person you should be communicating with.
  • Covert Messages & Mind Reading: This involves hinting and expecting the other person to read your mind, instead of clearly communicating your wishes, wants, or desires in a situation.
  • Failure to Give Space: When we don’t give others the space they need, they are not able to engage a conversation in a healthy way. We can also be guilty of not giving ourselves the space we need to show up well.
  • Confusing Understanding and Agreement: Understanding and agreement are two different things. It is possible for people to understand our point of view without agreeing with us.
  • Using Inflammatory Words/Phrases: Using emotionally loaded words typically breaks down communication. (examples: always, never, illogical, waste of time, etc.)
To dive deeper into this topic of Effective Interpersonal Communication, check out the full Effective Interpersonal Communication course.

Two Communication Styles Under Stress

We all tend towards one of two communication styles under stress. We gravitate towards silence or violence. Silence is when we withdraw or avoid conflict. Violence, on the other hand, is when we pursue or go after resolution at all cost, instead of withdrawing or avoiding.

Neither of these responses are helpful, as they both prevent meaningful dialogue. But when we don’t feel respected or valued by the other person, we tend to react defensively with either silence or violence. This is shown in actions such as: withdrawal, stonewalling, withholding, avoidance, escalation, blaming, arrogance, selfishness, exaggeration, tantrums, denial, invalidation, defensiveness, passive-aggressiveness, acting out, ruminating, controlling, demanding, provoking, complaining, belittling, and more.

We then tend to tell ourselves stories to justify our choice of silence or violence, making us feel better about ourselves. These stories typically make the other person out to be the villain, make us out to be the victim, and render us helpless to have responded any differently.

What is the impact of these bad communication habits? How can we avoid getting hooked by them? That is what we’ll look at next time, in part two of Effective Interpersonal Communication.


Cheering you on!

Josh Spurlock, MA, LPC, CST
Founder & Director of MyCounselor.Online


To dive deeper into this topic of Effective Interpersonal Communication, check out the full Effective Interpersonal Communication course.

More Resources on Effective Interpersonal Communication: