Today is International Women’s Day and City News celebrates women through the art of self-care. Nine of City Harvest Church’s women pastors share how they recharge to give others their best.
Women were created to be helpmeets. This often means they are constantly doing things for others—and not caring enough for themselves. Just ask any busy wife, mother or daughter.
But as CHC co-founder Sun Ho put it in an Instagram post last October, “Self-care is a priority and necessity, not a luxury.”
She wrote, “Recently, I’ve been learning and talking about the importance of self-care. Being a workaholic myself, getting to do what God wants me to do and enjoying every moment of it, I think the line of ‘having too much on my plate’ has become fuzzy. I came to a place where I felt that I need to practice what I preach … In this season of solitude, I decided to venture into the new hobby of flower arrangement! It has brought so much joy and much needed refreshing to my soul.”
This Women’s Day, we decided to ask the other women pastors of the church how they refresh their souls and what self-care looks like to them. We hope their sharing inspires you to take time to make your soul happy too!
Pastor Audrey Ng
Pastor Audrey leads a pastoral zone as well as CHC’s Liberty Ministry.
For me, it is really about being intentional in making time to focus on myself. The Bible says that we are three-part beings: spirit, soul and body. It is a reminder that I need to be mindful of my spirit by spending time with the Lord; my soul by having quality soul-time, and my body by having sufficient rest and taking care of my health the best I know-how.
My favourite past time is to read a good book, sipping coffee from a nice cup or drinking tea in a pretty teapot, with soulful jazz music playing in the background. This is usually how I spend my off-days—it is my way of breaking away from the busyness of life to enjoy the little things in life. It honestly does wonders for my soul!
Isaiah 58:11 gives us a picture of a “well-watered garden”. I believe that part of self-care is ensuring that we are connected to that which gives us life so that we never run out of the joy of doing what we are doing.
There’s a recent quote from Brianna Wiest I came across that set me thinking. “True self-care is not bath salts and chocolate cake, it’s making the choice to build a life you don’t need to escape from.”
The best we can do as women is to make wise decisions to build a life we can truly enjoy at the pace we are comfortable with. We must know that we are our first priority, amidst the many other priorities we need to juggle. Our goal shouldn’t be to build a perfect, flawless or Instagram-perfect life, but a life where we can look forward to each day without dragging our feet.
Sometimes, it is about knowing how to say no; learning to lower our expectations of ourselves or being willing to make changes or adjustments to your life when necessary. Think about what gives you joy and focus on that.
A life that we don’t need to escape from can look like this:
– I am able to find God’s purpose for me in what I do every day.
– I find myself looking forward to most days, even if it’s a working day
– I am able to find time to do things I enjoy and not feel guilty about it.
– I am capable of taking care of myself.
It’s a process and I am not “there” myself. But I look forward each day to building a purposeful and God-centred life because I believe this form of self-care is what is truly sustainable.
Pastor Eileen Toh
Pastor Eileen oversees the Church Without Walls (Dialect Service, JAMs and Harvest Kidz) ministry as well as the Intercessory Ministry.
There are two things that I do often to recharge. The first is to daydream and that means to stop thinking for a while. My mind is often cluttered with work and responsibilities, and sometimes I just need to purposefully let my mind not work hard, and daydream.
Secondly, I try to steal time to relax or what we call 忙里偷闲. If I find pockets of free time, I’ll go and watch a movie, or wash my hair at the salon. Or I’d take a morning walk, or read a book for pleasure. In the busyness of everyday life, I try to take a little time out just to enjoy myself.
As a woman, we always have 101 things to do and it’s never-ending! Mark 12:31 teaches us “to love your neighbour as yourself.” If you don’t love yourself or care for yourself, you wouldn’t know how to love others. So the second commandment is about loving yourself as well. Even when you feel that you don’t want to pamper yourself, know that it is important!
To the women in the church, I would say: Be the best version of yourself. You are complete and whole! Stay rooted in Christ, and you’ll find your significance, self-worth and security!
Pastor Veronica Tang
Pastor Veronica leads a zone of young adults and involved in CityFamilies teaching, and counselling couples going through challenges in their married life.
I love to cook. Every time I am feeling stressed or tired, I would just whip up a meal—that gives me a lot of satisfaction. I find the process of cooking is therapeutic. Most importantly, when I see my children, my family or even my friends and members enjoying the food, I feel so satisfied.
Another thing I do is to give myself two hours in the week to just either walk in a park or a mall, to listen to the Lord. That space to be by myself is important for me. Or, I would take a bus ride. Sitting on the upper deck of a double-decker bus is really relaxing. Just looking out the window helps me to connect back to myself.
I feel that self-care is essential because it helps me to be the best version of myself. If I’m not disciplined to care for myself, then what I’m giving to others is a very tired and frustrated version of me. Only when I’m recharged can I be the best me.
Don’t feel guilty for taking a rest; do not feel guilty of feeling tired. Our feelings are valid. People often say “I have no time for myself, no time to do the things that I like.” But we must value longevity: if you have no time for yourself, then you shouldn’t have time for others because loving ourselves is very important. The Second Commandment says that we are to love others as ourselves. So we need to love ourselves in order to love others.
Pastor Tan Yah Lan
Pastor Yah Lan leads a zone of young adults as well as oversees the ministry for single parents.
I walk 5km at least three times a week at the Bedok Reservoir. Occasionally, I will do longer walks–my most recent one was at Mandai Trail where I took one and a half hours.
I enjoy nature a lot! I first discovered it when I was quarantined at the community facility because of COVID-19. For 21 days, I was confined in a room and the thing I enjoyed doing was to stand before the trees, listening to the birds singing and spotting animals like squirrels and chameleon! I never got bored with it.
Walking in nature has enormous benefits for me! And I walk alone, which allows me to set my pace and spend time with myself. Walking gives me the chance to disconnect from all the distractions in my life and mind. It allows me to live in the present moment with the complete stillness of mind and connect with God. So often, God would speak to me in a still small voice in the midst of my walks.
Mental, emotional and physical health is a matter of my choice, and I choose to live a healthy and vibrant life. When my life gets stressful and things seem to be moving faster with many things to do but very little time to do them, walking gives me the opportunity to intentionally slow down and be aligned. It also gives me a chance to get out of my head, releases any emotion and stresses I have during the day. Focusing on my needs occasionally is a proven strategy for increasing my effectiveness too.
No matter how busy your day may be, always find time to disconnect from your responsibilities and connect with God. Health is truly a matter of choice. You deserve better.
Pastor Glordia Goh
Pastor Glordia is an associate pastor at CHCs Harvest Kidz.
I do a few things to recharge: binge-watching shows, reading, walking, enjoying a good cup of coffee, and one of my favourite is boxing! I’ve always liked sports and exercise, especially classes such as spinning, high-intensity interval training, or circuit training. When I tried Muay Thai or Thai boxing, I fell in love with it.
Last year, I decided to take up a sport seriously and I chose boxing. It not only challenges me physically but also challenges my mind and agility. It trains me to focus and be present in what I’m doing, and it’s a really good way to block out work or other concerns for 45 minutes. It also teaches me to be resilient and helps me release any pent up emotions. The process may seem tough but the sense of achievement and release of endorphins make me feel euphoric! That helps me face any challenge that comes my way!
Women are naturally rich with emotions, and we often have to wear many hats. I have full respect for mothers—they are the real superheroes with the power to keep all the plates spinning. Due to our giving nature, we need to take care of ourselves even more. It is imperative that we look after the body, soul and spirit. Caring for our soul is very important but often neglected; taking care of ourselves means we can giving to the people we love, continue chasing our passion and fulfil the call of our in our lives!
We are “Daddy’s precious girls” so we must allow Him to love us abundantly! We should love ourselves because we are beautiful and we deserve it!
Pastor Lee Yilun
Pastor Yilun leads a zone of young adults and oversees CHC’s visual communication ministry.
Reading, listening to podcasts and meditating on the Word of God are some things I do to recharge myself. I like to wake up early in the morning to pray and read the Bible–it makes me feel that I’m starting the day right. Recently I have been listening to Craig Groeschel’s leadership podcast and Dr Caroline Leaf’s podcast on mental health.
Another thing I like to do is to spend time with my kids. I try to bring them out as much as I can–recently we went to Nerf Action City. My two boys like me to watch YouTube together with them. Even when my workday is packed, I always fetch my kids home from school. We may have only five minutes to watch videos and the videos may be silly, but we enjoy that short time watching and laughing together. My daughter, the oldest, enjoys watching anime, so sometimes I just sit next to her as she watches. Spending time with them encourages me a lot. It’s a constant reminder to me that I am balancing family and ministry, and not putting ministry above my kids. I think this is super important to me.
For us, especially the Mums, there is a lot of demand for us. So if there is an outflow, there must also be an in-flow. You can only give what you have and that’s why self-care is so important. Pastor Aries (Zulkarnain, CHC’s executive pastor) preached recently about reflective thinking: it’s more than the doing–it’s the being. Self-care allows me to focus more on being than doing. I feel that self-care gives me the bandwidth to think about how I really want to live my life, how I want to channel my time and energy; what is important and what my focus is.
To the women in the church, I’d say that we need to be strong and very courageous. Sometimes, we tend to underestimate the gifts and talents that God has given to us. We limit ourselves when it comes to God’s calling for us. I feel that we have to be bold to live out God’s purpose for us as a woman because there are times when people think that a woman is less or that she is not able. But I believe that God has created men and women equal in value. To me, success is living out the purpose God has for my life. So I will say don’t compare yourself with other women, don’t compare with men. Just be very focused on God’s best for you. I feel that it’s our time to rise up. You have what it takes to fulfil God’s kingdom purpose for you. Don’t hold back, and don’t live in limitation.
Pastor Lynn Tan
Pastor Lynn is an associate pastor at CHCs Harvest Kidz who also oversees CityFamilies.
I generally eat healthily with lots of greens and fresh foods. In the mornings when I wake up, I take time to meditate on the Lord’s goodness. That is also the time when I do some light stretches and exercise to refresh myself before I start the busy day.
Over the past few years, I developed a variety of interests like gardening, baking, watercolour painting and making cards using scrapbooking materials. I have always enjoyed nature. So we keep a variety of plants like succulents, cacti and herbs at home. Whenever I tend to them, it allows me to focus on the now. My mind gets that much- needed break! When the plants do well and propagate successfully, I feel a sense of simple accomplishment.
I like to paint landscapes and flowers, and I’ve recently started painting birds because we have pet birds at home. When the Lord gives me a word for a person, I’ll doodle or paint that out on a card to give to that person. I have given away quite a number of cards to adults and kids. I’ve also been making birthday cards and magnetic embellishments for my family, friends, leaders, and members. While it may seem like a lot of work, but it’s actually quite therapeutic for me because it allows me to create.
As a pastor, I am constantly pouring out and giving. As a wife and mother, I do the same. On top of that, I am a thinker. Putting family, ministry and work together, there are lots of stuff going on inside my head. I joke with my husband that many times, I have an overload of my mental load.
My interests help keep my mind and soul free from the many things calling out for my attention. It does take a conscious effort to come away from the busyness. I appreciate coming to a place of quietness to find rest for my busy mind and soul. In my gardening, I see the beauty of God’s amazing creation. In my watercolours and card-making, I marvel at the creativity and imagination He gives each one of us. I think my pursuits allow me the freedom of self-expression beyond ministry.
A number of mothers I speak to do not know what to do if they had time for themselves. The activities they list are all about doing things with their children or for their children and family.
I think many women are givers and they neglect to have a sense of self. I tell many expectant mothers: “happy mummy, happy baby”. I think it is only when we find that sense of peace and joy within ourselves that can we give life to others.
The same applies to the singles. Find your sense of self and purpose, be secure being the unique you. Do what brings joy to your soul.
Pastor Maria Tok
Pastor Maria oversees CHC’s Dialect Service.
Before Covid-19, I used to take overseas trips which help me to disconnect, relax, and be rejuvenated. But since I am not unable to travel now, I make sleep and regular exercise my self-care routine. These sound simple but are great in helping me emotionally, mentally and physically. At times, when I am too stressed out at work, I will also do some late-night baking.
My hobbies are morning cycling, swimming and breeze walking. Usually, when I do my exercise, I will listen to sermon podcasts or worship music and pray. As I exercise, I allow my body and mind to relax and sweating after the workout makes me feel good too.
To me, it is very important to take care of my body as it is the temple of God. As a pastor, my schedule can be crazy busy and me-time is usually last on the agenda. Furthermore, ministry work can be emotionally draining. So in order for me to have contentment and longevity in ministry, self-care helps me to live a life that is happy, productive and fulfilling.
Don’t devalue self-care, and we need to learn how to let go, and say “no” to extra obligations without feeling guilty. Remember, self-care is not selfish–to take care of others, we must first start by taking care of ourselves.
Pastor Lily Yong
Pastor Lily oversees Jesus for All Minds (JAMS), the church’s service for the intellectually challenged.
I like to jog or brisk walk as a form of self-care. It is my time with God, where I can talk and fellowship with Him. Another hobby I have is baking.
A few months ago, I went to a floral art jelly class. It had been on my bucket list for a long time and I finally found some time to go for it. I find baking and jelly-making very therapeutic. It helps me to unwind and it inspires creativity.
Self-care helps me to maintain a healthy relationship with myself so that I can transmit good feelings to others. The fact of the matter is, we cannot give others what we don’t have ourselves. My hobbies also help me to ensure that I have a work-life balance and not focus too much on my work.
To the ladies in our church, I’ll say be free to be whoever you want to be. We only live once so we must be bold and brave to do what we can in the different seasons and phases of our life and do it well.