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Ask Jani: “How do you balance self-care and living a servant life?”

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Episode Synopsis

Jani answers some questions about spending time with the Lord when you have little kids, how to fight for that time when life is so demanding, and resources that she uses during her time with the Lord.

Audio Transcript

Heidi Howerton: Welcome back everyone. We are so glad to have you here with us today. On today’s episode we’re going to do another “Ask Jani”, which is a moment for you and me to sit at a table with Jani and pretend we’re drinking tea and ask her all the questions that are on our heart and let her share the wisdom that the Lord has given her. If you have a question for Jani, please submit it at herestoresmysoul.org.

Our first question 00:39

Heidi: So Jani, here is our first question today

“How do you balance self care and the life of servanthood? When should you say ‘No’ when there are multiple good ‘Yesses’ in front of you? How do you decide which is the right one and which to say no to?”

Jani Ortlund: Oh my goodness, what a good question. Can we take the next five podcasts on this, Heidi? Oh, we certainly could. Well, let’s begin today. Maybe we’ll circle back around to this another time, but let’s at least begin thinking this through with our listeners. How do you balance self care and a life of servanthood? That’s a very popular word today, isn’t it? We hear it a lot. We want to be balanced people. We don’t want to list to the right or list to the left. We want to live a well-centered life.

The most balanced person ever 1:31

Jani: For myself, I know I want to look at the most balanced person who ever lived—Jesus Christ—and I want to imitate him. I think of when Jesus was on earth, he had so many demands, didn’t he? So many people wanted his time. I’m sure our listeners feel like him in that way, especially if you’re a working woman or if you have children at home who really demand a lot from you.

Jani: You feel pulled in a lot of different directions. You want to serve the Lord. You want to serve him at work, in your home, in your church, and your neighborhood. But you wonder, “Oh, what about me? When do I regroup? How do I live my life well?” So let’s look at Jesus. Let’s imitate his life.

Jani: I love that Luke recorded for us a little snapshot picture of Christ’s life. In Luke 5:15-16 Jesus had had such a pressing, busy day. He had called his first disciples and then many people came to him to be healed, his fame was spreading, and this is what Luke 5:15-16 say, “But now even more the report about him–that’s Jesus, the report about Jesus–went abroad and great crowds gathered to hear him and to be healed of their infirmities.” Can you imagine all those people coming up to Jesus? “Please heal me. Heal my son. Heal my daughter, heal my mother, we need you. Please! I heard you healed my neighbor. Won’t you come heal me?” Then look at verse 16, “But he (Jesus) would withdraw to desolate places and pray.”

Jani: You can do a lot if you pray. You can do a lot if you refuel your soul in a desolate place where no one but you and the Lord can meet. The best way to live a balanced life is to balance it by time with the Lord in his word and praying. We need to have “self care”, but the best self care is spiritual self care. We want to be healthy physically. We want to be healthy mentally and intellectually, but none of that health will mean anything unless we’re balanced in our inner man with the Lord Jesus Christ. Then we can listen to him as we respond to all these needs.

Life of a servant…an eternal perspective 4:15

Jani: Now let’s think about serving for just a minute. I’m sure we’ll talk more about this later, but I remember a cartoon—maybe some of you have heard me talk about this cartoon. Some of you young moms or grandmas will understand this. It’s a picture of a daddy with a little two or three year old sitting on his lap and the little boy and daddy are looking at what is obviously a wedding album and the boy is pointing to a picture of Mommy in her beautiful bridal gown and he looks up at dad and says, “Oh, so that’s the day mommy came to work for us.”

Jani: We feel like that sometimes don’t we in our serving. It’s hard to be a servant. Let me encourage you this way though. When the Lord calls us his servant, it means that he’s taking us on as his responsibility. No one serves the Lord unnoticed by their master. I love how Paul puts it in 2 Corinthians 12:15. In fact, I’ve needed this verse so much that one of my friends had it engraved and put it on a necklace. I’m wearing it today, aren’t I, Heidi?

Heidi: Can I see it? Can you let me see if I can read the reference? 2 Corinthians 12:15a.

Jani: Yes. 2 Corinthians 12:15a. It says,

“I will most gladly spend and be spent for your souls.”

Jani: I love that verse. It’s both the active—I will engage, I will reach out, I will initiate, I will spend—and be spent. That passive–where all the needs come to you–more and more and more. More than you think that you can manage. They keep coming. I will be spent on these. But listen to the last phrase “for your souls.” So let’s be women who have an eternal perspective when we spend ourselves. Are we giving ourselves to eternal matters? That always helps me to know when to say no. It is hard to know.

Can I get a day off? 6:26

Jani: Let me say one more thing about physically. I have lived with a man for 47 years so far who has always lived a six day work week. It’s just Ray the way he is. He works Tuesday morning to Sunday afternoon or evening because he’s a pastor. We count Sunday as a workday and then we take Mondays off. But we do take Mondays off. Heidi, you’re my assistant here at Renewal Ministries and you know I don’t…

Heidi: She takes Mondays off. She doesn’t answer emails or send things out. You guys have been faithful to have a sabbath on Monday.

Jani: Yes. It’s the Lord’s pattern. He worked for six days and then he rested. The Lord Almighty. He doesn’t need rest, but it’s such a wonderful pattern. He set it up for us. So part of balancing is balancing your weekly schedule of making sure you have a day off.

Jani: Now, obviously with little ones you say, I have no days off, but make it different somehow. Maybe you hire a babysitter for two hours a week, maybe you exchange babysitting with a friend every other week. Somehow get a little time to yourself, spend time with the Lord, and then when your soul is right, when your soul is at rest with him, then do something that will rejuvenate you physically. Take a walk, read a book, go eat an ice cream cone. That’s my favorite rejuvenation, but keep an eternal watch in mind. How are you working towards heaven? How are you leaning in towards eternal joys, eternal glories? How are you striving to finish your race?

One sign you need one 8:09

Jani: One of the ways I can tell if I’m imbalanced is if I am really teary. I don’t know, dear friend who’s listening, do you struggle with that at times, too? This past week has been a stressful week for me. I know probably for many of you as well, and I just found myself when I came into our recording studio this morning with Heidi, she asked me how I was and I teared up, so she just took me, hugged me, prayed for me, but part of those tears were fatigue and so that tells me, all right, this afternoon I have a little downtime. I need to balance there and refill my heart, my soul, my body. Who knows? I might even put my feet up and close my eyes for a few minutes. Watch yourself if you are emotionally tense, irritable, agitated, short, teary, maybe gray, lending yourself toward depression. Ask yourself, is this physical? Do I need more of a day off?

When to say “Yes” and when to say “No” 9:16

Jani: Now what about when to say no and when there are multiple yesses, good yesses, I think. Is that how they put it in their question?

Heidi: Yes. Like I would imagine that people are asking you to come to dinner, or make a meal for a family whose husband is going through a hard time health-wise. When multiple needs come at us, how do we know which ones to say, “Yes” to? That’s how I read it.

Jani: Mm. That’s such a good question because who doesn’t have multiple yesses? Well, I’ll just share how the Lord has helped me through the years figure this out.

Question 1: “Do I have a desire to?” 9:52

Jani: The very first question I ask myself is, “Do I want to do this?” Generally the question answers “Yes”. It’s somebody I know. It’s a heartfelt need and I want my life to be spent. I want to spend and be spent for your souls. So generally I want to, but that’s the first question. If I have a big red flag, “Oh, I don’t want to do this. This sounds hard.” I don’t salivate, it doesn’t excite me at all then I would question whether the Lord is really calling you to do that at that particular time if this is a yes, he’s asking you to embrace. Sometimes? Maybe, but not all the time. First ask yourself, do I want to, do I have a desire?

Question 2: “Do I have the means to?” 10:38

Jani: The second question I ask myself, the second grid I kind of put it to you after desire (if if I feel like, yeah, I kinda like to do that) is the means. Do I have the means to do this? The physical means the emotional strength, the financial ability to do this, and if on any of those there’s a huge red flag either, you know, I’m really tired and this is a big effort to paint the new church’s gymnasium, then I know that wouldn’t be a good place for me to serve. Or if it’s sitting with someone in the hospital for the week during their cancer recovery and I’m really drained emotionally, it might be better for me to take someone with me or spell that with someone else.

Jani: Or financial. We receive many requests for financial help. I’m sure you do, Heidi. I’m sure our listeners receive many requests for financial help, so we need to put it through that grid. When I lay my budget before the Lord and I speak to my husband or whoever else would help me with my financial means, has the Lord provided? Has God given me the financial means to meet this need?

Question 3: “Does this fit with my life pattern and lifetime goals?” 12:02

Jani: So my desire — do I want to? My means — am I physically, emotionally, financially strong enough to? And then finally, well, it’s not really finally (I have another grid as well I’ll mention) but let’s say for the third grid I would say, “Does it fit in with my life pattern? Is it a part of where I feel God is calling me in life?”

Jani: My wonderful Mom Ortlund—Anne ortlund—taught me how to live my life according to goals. She taught me how to write lifetime goals. Heidi, you think we should talk about that on one of our podcasts?

Heidi: Yes. That lesson is so helpful.

Jani: We’ll do that. Let me just say this as far as saying yes or no. I like to ask myself these questions because I want to live my life very purposefully.

What drives me, what thrills me, what excites me?
What do I dream about? What dreams carry me through today and tomorrow and on into my next week?
What do I want my life to look like five years down the road? Where do I suspect that God wants me to go in my life?
At the end of my life, when I stand before Jesus Christ and my heavenly Father, what do I want to look back on? What would satisfy me and what would thrill me to offer to him?

Jani: So I ask, “Is this ‘Yes’ consistent with my lifetime goals?” Jesus had a goal. He said, “For the son of man came to seek and to save the lost.” That was his goal, to seek and to save the lost. So he knew how to spend each day. What to say yes to what to say no to.

Jani: Paul had a goal. He said in First Corinthians chapter nine that he doesn’t run aimlessly. He runs with purpose. We don’t want to be women who just drift along. We don’t want to spin our wheels, or as the Bible says “beat the air”. We want to be daughters of the King of the universe. I love how Isaiah puts it in Isaiah 32:8,

“But he who is noble, plans noble things and on noble things he stands.”

Jani: We’re daughters of the King of the universe! Oh, let’s live like nobility. What noble things do you want to stand on, dear listener, throughout your life?

Jani: I love how Ephesians 5:10 puts it,

“Try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord.”

Jani: Try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. Ephesians 5:10. Oh, I love that verse. So as you’re thinking about, “Should I say yes or no?” does it fit in with where you think your life is going? Do you sense if you said yes to this, it would bring a smile to God’s face? Do you think it would be pleasing to him?

Question 4: “Do my family and friends think it’s okay?” 15:11

Jani: Then the final grid I would put it through is: “Do my family and friends think it’s okay?” Now there’s some little things I can say yes to. If I have a a neighborhood litter pickup for two hours on a Saturday morning and Ray’s at work, I don’t need to run that by him. I could just say yes, that would be a good thing for me to do. I’d get to know some new neighbors. I’d clean up the neighborhood. Yes, I could do that. But there are other requests, shall I say, that people might ask you and you need counsel on. Go to your friends, go to your family. Do they think it’s okay? Then that would be the fourth way. I would run it through the fourth grid to whether I should say yes or no to this.

1. Do I want to?
2. Do I have the means?
3. Does it fit in with my life purposes?
4. Do those people closest to me think it’s a good idea?

Heidi: Thank you, Jani. Those questions are so helpful. I think sometimes it’s easy to say “Yes” to things when it comes our way and make a frantic decision instead of really taking time to sit with it and taking it through some of those questions and being women that spend our time wisely. I also loved how at the beginning of this question you brought us back to Jesus, so thank you for showing us how the Lord lived life in balance and how we also live life as a servant. It’s easy to think self care, oh, I need to run more or I need to do this for self care, but to really come back and settle our hearts in Christ and how do our souls find rest in God alone.

Thank You

Thank you for joining us today. To discover more about Jani and Ray, visit their webpage at renewalministries.com. If you have a question for Jani or would like to learn more about this podcast, please visit our website at herestoresmysoul.org.

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He Restores My Soul with Jani Ortlund seeks to encourage women with God’s renewing power for their busy lives. Episodes include relevant biblical teaching, stimulating gospel conversations with other Christians, and “Ask Jani” sessions where we talk about what’s on our listeners’ hearts.

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