Book review: Take Care of Yourself: Survive and Thrive in Christian Ministry

Reviewed by Beverlea Parkhill

Mission Round Table 17:1 (Jan-Apr 2022): 25

Take Care of Yourself: Survive and Thrive in Christian Ministry
Pablo Martinez. Oxford: Dictum, Oxford, 2018. ISBN 978-1683071785. 112pp.

The book is also published as part of the Lausanne Library series.
(Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2018)

“Keep watch over yourselves” (Acts 20:28).

This short book is a commentary on the above verse and is for anyone seeking to thrive in ministry for the long haul. Pablo Martinez states that “the problem is not working too hard, but resting (renewing) too little” (2). This book is a caution for those of us who often neglect our own care for the sake of the gospel work we are involved in. In only 100 pages drawn from drawn from his background in pastoral psychology, Martinez gives succinct pointers and practical advice on how to care for ourselves and avoid burnout in ministry.

While a lot of the material provided in the book is not new or innovative, it reminds us of our need for rest and renewal. This includes the reasons we need rest (chapter 1), the need for regular times of rest—daily, weekly, and annually (chapter 2), and the mistakes and dangers of not taking rest (chapter 3). Chapter 4 contains constructive strategies for guarding our wellbeing. Chapter 5 looks at the need for diligence in our own spiritual nourishment. Martinez includes an appendix containing additional material on dealing with our pasts. Although it feels somewhat disconnected from the rest of the book, the information here is helpful. He also provides some thoughtful questions for study and reflection at the end of book.

One of the more helpful illustrations in the book is found in chapter 2, where Martinez uses the vineyard as a metaphor for our lives.

They made me keeper of the vineyards, but my own vineyard I have not kept!
(Song of Songs 1:6b, ESV).

Martinez highlights our responsibility to care for our own vineyard/life under God. This is part of good stewardship of our physical, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing. The illustration of the vineyard continues through the ideas of pruning, watering, and waiting.

I recommend Take Care of Yourself to anyone who is struggling or wanting to avoid burnout. I will finish with a quote from Lindsay Brown’s foreword:

For some, this book will be exhilarating, for others it will be liberating, and for many, it will be an eye-opener. My prayer is that for all readers it will be a source of enrichment and joy. (ix)

Picture of Written by Beverlea Parkhill
Written by Beverlea Parkhill

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