The Whole Life: 52 Weeks of Biblical Self-Care

Eliza Huie and Esther Smith
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Many of us live at a pace that is impossible to keep. Unrelenting busyness might feel necessary, but it can lead to chronic stress and burnout that hinders our love for God and others. Instead of adding more to our long to-do list, counselors Eliza Huie and Esther Smith guide readers in how to think biblically about their whole life. They give Christians a framework for biblical self-care that will help them live for Christ by stewarding the spiritual, emotional, relational, and physical aspects of life.

The Whole Life: 52 Weeks of Biblical Self-Care outlines a balanced life of stewardship, offering practical strategies for Christians to grow in honoring God and caring for others. The authors focus on six key areas: faith, health, purpose, community, work, and rest. Each chapter addresses a specific topic and guides readers in thinking biblically about their whole life.

Breaking down the misconceptions that self-care is not biblical, The Whole Life reveals that caring for yourself doesn't mean you are being selfish or lazy. Instead, it's a way of stewarding every part of your life for God's glory and the good of others. Contrary to what our culture might lead us to believe, exhaustion and burnout are not unavoidable pitfalls of a faithful Christian life. Instead, they are warning signs that we need to turn to God for daily help. This book will reorient readers to the core value of resting their heart, mind, and strength in Christ.


Eliza Huie, MA, LCPC, is the Director of Counseling at McLean Bible Church in Vienna, VA and the Dean of Biblical Counseling at Metro Baltimore Seminary. She is the author of Raising Teens in a Hyper-Sexualized World and Raising Kids in a Screen-Saturated World and is the coauthor of The Whole Life. Eliza and her husband Ken have three grown children and a daughter-in-law.

Esther Smith, MA, is a biblical counselor at Life Counseling Center Ministries and is a licensed clinical professional counselor in the state of Maryland. She is the author of Chronic Illness: Walking by Faith, coauthor of The Whole Life, and has been published in the Journal of Biblical Counseling. Esther and her husband live near Baltimore, MD.

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"What happens when you put two godly wise women together to develop a yearlong plan created to help believers flourish? You get The Whole Life: 52 Weeks of Biblical Self-Care. Don't be put off by the phrase self-careÑthis is no shallow psychobabble. Rather, it's filled with the gospel and deep wisdom learned through years of counseling. What a blessing!"
Elyse Fitzpatrick, Author of Worthy: Celebrating the Value of Women

"The Whole Life should be required reading for all seminary students. Self-care has the potential to make or break a leader's long-term influence, though it is rarely addressed in formal training programs. Rooted in the life-giving gospel of God's grace for sinners, the tools provided here will set you up for a lifetime of thriving in ministry."
Dan Passerelli, President, Metro Baltimore Seminary

"In a world full of need, it's easy to hear Jesus's call to self-sacrifice more loudly than his call to rest. How important, then, to consciously assess whether our lifestyle is truly in line with God's good design. In fifty-two bite-sized yet rich reflections, The Whole Life encourages us toward a pattern that is scriptural and sustainable. This is Christ-centered wisdom for the weary and respite from a relentless life."
Helen Thorne, Director of Training and Resources, Biblical Counselling UK

"I have to confess that when I saw that this book was about self-care, I was a bit skeptical because my greater concern in counseling tends to be that people care too much about themselves and not enough about God and others. But as I read the book I appreciated that the authors made a biblical case that there are ways in which we need to take care of ourselves if we are going to be able to love God and others well. As my hero Charles Spurgeon said regarding self-care of pastors, 'We are in a certain sense our own tools, and therefore must keep ourselves in order.'"
Jim Newheiser, Director of the Christian Counseling Program and Associate Professor of Pastoral Theology, Reformed Theological Seminary, Charlotte; executive director IBCD (The Institute for Biblical Counseling and Discipleship)

"If our current situation has taught us anything, surely it is that we are frail and fragile beings dependent on our Savior. It is into this reality that Eliza Huie and Esther Smith have blessed us with a much-needed work on biblical self-care that focuses our gaze and attention on both body and soul as God created us. Readers will be encouraged with the practicality of their work and the rich theological depth that it is grounded in. Treasure this resource, read and chew on the contents slowly, and be strengthened for faithful ministry for the coming season."
Jonathan D. Holmes, Executive Director, Fieldstone Counseling; pastor of counseling, Parkside Church; board member for the Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation (CCEF)

"We could all use some help in our devotions. What sets this book apart is its holistic approach to the care of one's own soul. While underscoring God's supremacy in our lives, we are also encouraged in this weekly format to consider the emotional, relational, and embodied aspects of our lives that are often overlooked. This book would also make a great resource for counselees!"
Eric L. Johnson, Professor of Christian Psychology, Gideon Institute of Christian Psychology & Counseling, Houston Baptist University

"Those who devote their lives to the care of others often fail to properly care for themselves. In their timely and needed book, Eliza and Esther offer Scripture-saturated, practical wisdom for self-care. They carefully recast our understanding of self-care as a biblically-rooted habit and offer guidance on how to make self-care a life-giving practice. This book contains fifty-two weeks of soul-feeding content and is a gift to the care of God's children!"
Andrew Dealy, Director of Soul Care and Executive Director, The Austin Stone Counseling Center, The Austin Stone Community Church

"When we hear about self-care, our first reaction is often to ask, 'Should we really care for ourselves? Shouldn't our focus be exclusively on sacrificial care for others?' I appreciate Eliza Huie and Esther Smith's biblically-based definition of self-care: 'the practice of drawing on divinely-given resources to steward our whole lives for personal enrichment, the good of others, and the glory of God.' In The Whole Life, they comprehensively and compassionately help readers to steward their lives so that they can live a lifetime of ministry to others to the glory of God."
Bob Kellemen, Academic Dean, Dean of Students, and Professor of Biblical Counseling, Faith Bible Seminary, Lafayette, Indiana

"If you are traveling on a plane, you are well aware of the instructions before takeoff: place the oxygen mask on your face before you help your child. That seems so counterintuitive, but the point is this; if you don't get oxygen first, you won't be able to help another person! That is what this book is about. It is about stewarding your body and soul so that you can be most useful to others. Stewardship is a word in Scripture that often is only associated with money. But the fact is, stewardship is about everything God has given us, including our body and soul. Eliza and Esther wisely call us to pay attention to ways we must steward these gifts."
Timothy S. Lane, President, Institute for Pastoral Care and Tim Lane & Associates; author of Unstuck: A Nine-Step Journey to Change that Lasts; coauthor of Relationships: A Mess Worth Making and How People Change

"The Whole Life provides a grace-filled and compelling vision for Christian self-care. All of us who struggle to live as holistic disciples should take this fifty-two-week journey toward caring for our bodies and souls in a gospel-saturated way. The exercises are simple and thought-provoking, and every week serves as a reminder of the beauty of honoring and enjoying God in every area of life."
Beth M. Broom, LPC Supervisor and Care Minister, The Village Church Denton

"This book is thoughtfully written, practically presented, theologically-rich, hope-filled, and robustly relevant. As a pastor, professor, counselor and business owner, my heart resonated with all of it. The weekly format drew me in and kept me focused on first things being first, while creating such an engaging format for my already busy yet productive life. I'd highly recommend pastors, professors, ministry leaders, business owners, and volunteers to read it."
Dwayne R. Bond, Lead Pastor, Wellspring Church; owner of Proximus Group, LLC

"Practical, biblical, and insightful, The Whole Life is a needed reminder for those of us who struggle with self-care that the Lord calls us to steward our lives with intentionality, wisdom, and a sensitivity to the Spirit's leading. The questions and exercises in each chapter shed necessary light on areas I've long neglected and encouraged me to care for my body, mind, and soul both to glorify God and to better serve others. If you feel overworked, stressed, and can't figure out what to do about it, this book is for you!"
Vaneetha Rendall Risner, Author of Walking Through Fire: A Memoir of Loss and Redemption

"When you think of self-care, do you immediately feel guilty for even thinking about it? The Whole Life not only shows the necessity of self-care, but also the utter biblical grounding for this idea of stewarding all of your life as a gift from God to be used in service to love others. Esther and Eliza do a remarkable job in giving you a place to practice self-care in a biblically healthy way. I would recommend this to every counselor, pastor, and people-helper."
Cache Barnes, Executive Director, Redemption: Twin Cities

"The term self-care has certainly become an elusive buzzword in today's society. It's something I prescribe for others while often failing to consistently engage in myself. In The Whole Life, Eliza and Esther journey with you for a year and provide weekly, practical steps to implement this practice. They use a biblical approach to remind you that caring for the spirit, soul, and body is not selfish, but simply stewardship."
Renee Davis, Clinical Psychologist

"God has entrusted us all to be good stewards of our bodies, emotions, and relationships. In The Whole Life, Eliza Huie and Esther Smith lay out a foundation for the kind of biblical self-care that is necessary to fuel a life lived wholly for the glory of God. I invite everyone experiencing exhaustion or burnout to pick up this book and put its contents into practice!"
Walter Shaw, Blogger at WTSreads

"The need for self-care may be greater than ever today and this book is a critical resource that I hope many will read. Eliza Huie and Esther Smith wisely lead the reader in a refreshing, gospel-centered, practical approach to caring for our own souls. You will be blessed, challenged, and refreshed as you spend the year with this book. Your soul and your community will be better for it!"
Jason Kovacs, Executive Director, Gospel Care Collective

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9 Reviews

  • 5
    Wise, balanced, and helpful guide to biblical self-care

    Posted by Wendy on 08 16 2021

    Biblical counsellors Huie and Smith have combined their skills to create this wise and winsome book that considers what biblical self-care looks like, and ways to approach it. They say that self care is “the practice of drawing on divinely given resources to steward our whole lives for personal enrichment, the good of others, and the glory of God… We practice self-care because it’s a biblical concept. We embrace self-care as a way to steward our souls, minds, bodies, and relationships. This whole-life stewardship is an act of obedience to God’s call to love others as we love ourselves.” (Week 1) The 52 weeks are divided into 6 sub-sections: spiritual life, physical life, a purposeful life, community life, work life and a restful life. Each week brings focuses on a specific area, allowing the reader to pause, reflect, consider God’s word, and respond in prayer and thoughtfulness. This includes a gospel spotlight, and a chance for application through consideration of questions covering four areas (spiritual, emotional, physical, and relational), and finishes with a a guided journalling suggestion. As such, taking a week for each topic doesn’t appear to be too slow. This is a wise, balanced, and helpful guide to biblical self-care. It’s quite short, and each week covers only 2-3 pages. However, the real benefit would be taking the time to work through each week in detail and prayerfully. Highly recommended for all Christians who long to serve the Lord sacrificially and faithfully, yet also with wisdom and awareness of our human limitations.

  • 5
    Biblical and practical

    Posted by Jennifer Holmes on 07 28 2021

    This book is written with the reader in mind. Easy to read weekly chapters keep life change from becoming too overwhelming and break it down into manageable pieces. This book is practical and biblical and offers a great perspective on self care. Highly recommend.

  • 5
    The Thorough, Biblical and Practical Instructions We Need to Steward Our Lives Well

    Posted by Steve Cranston on 07 26 2021

    As this book's title suggests, it's a very well-written and pretty thorough set of instructions which - if utilized as it's designed to be - will help the reader restructure his/her lifestyle so as to discover and reflect a much more healthy and well-rounded reality. The authors, Eliza Huie and Esther Smith, begin the book in a way that always helps me, as with most people, telling "their stories". Though very different from each other (Eliza is very driven and tends toward "going non-stop till exhaustion"; Esther suffers from chronic illness and must "pace herself, in every way"), they have experientially arrived at the same conclusion. They must give constant, intentional care to stewarding themselves in every way, as they say... "your spiritual life, physical life, purposeful approach to life, community life, work life, life of rest". To help in great and practical ways with this life "restructuring", as it is written in a weekly format, each section includes 3 things: a Gospel Spotlight, an Action and Application section and a Guided Journaling section. Though it surely can be successfully used by each reader/user individually, using it with others for purposes of mutual accountability is a very viable suggested option. The authors are careful to give permission to use it in other ways than the weekly format they designed it for. So what's the bottom-line summary? Simply that this book is an invaluable tool to help the reader become a much better person in every way as he/she gives themself to "stewarding their life" as both the Scriptures and the book prescribe. As some of the many "endorsements" and the authors illustrate by using a familiar and common an airline flight begins the flight attendant instructs the passengers, in an emergency, parents/adults need to put on their own oxygen masks before trying to assist others. Likewise, if we're not caring for ourselves well we'll be ill-equipped to provide any and every kind of care to others. For God's glory, we each need to learn and strive to live "The Whole Life", for the glory of God and the good of others as well as ourselves.

  • 5
    Highly recommended

    Posted by Kimberly McKay on 07 26 2021

    Convicting and freeing! - The Whole Life Book takes a great Biblical approach to self care! It’s timely - easy to read, clinical, helpful, and practical! Highly recommended. Kim - Biblical Counselor - BIblical Counseling Services of Northern, VA

  • 5
    Superb Biblical Material

    Posted by Katelyn Friesen on 07 25 2021

    I love how this book reaches to everyone where they are at, no matter where they are at on the self-care spectrum! Whole Life Book, offers Biblical tips and tricks to implement into your life to get you to know your Savior better and get you into a state of God-centered rest. Complete with a Gold-star worthy appendix full of goodies, this book is a great tool to go back to as a reference to get centered to Christ in your daily routine. One of the best reads of my life. Highly recommend!!!!

  • 4
    Living the life God designed

    Posted by Joan Nienhuis on 07 25 2021

    Self-care. You might think it's a fad but the authors argue it's a biblical principle. It is not something selfish but rather part of God's design for us to love Him, others and ourselves in the best way. Huie and Smith define self-care as “drawing on divinely given resources to steward our whole lives for personal enrichment, the good of others, and the glory of God.” (240/2848) The authors write from experience. Huie was the kind of person who hit the day running. But there came a point where that pace affected her health. God taught her valuable lessons through that experience, many of which she shares in this book. Smith was diagnosed with lupus about a decade ago and had to slow down her life, concentrating on self-care. Huie and Smith cover six areas of life: spiritual life, physical life, purposeful approach to life, community life, work life, and the life of rest. Each of the 52 meditations contains insightful information and includes suggestions for action, application, and guided journaling. I appreciate insights into our thinking, stress, burnout, play, goals, pace of life, screen habits, community, friendships, boundaries, rest, solitude, and more. Perhaps the most impacting meditation for me was on purposeful living. The authors remind us how we start our day impacts the rest of it. They suggest we orient our hearts to Jesus from the moment we open our eyes. (1092/2848) Recognize we need His help with our first waking breath. Realize He is there to help us and guide us in all we do that day. Living in total dependence upon Jesus is the best self-care we could exercise. This is a good book for Christians who want to take a serious look at their lives and consider the pace, the impact, the space given to Jesus, to others and to yourself. You'll find many thought provoking insights to help you best live the life God designed for you. The authors suggest going through this book each year. It's a good idea. I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher. My comments are an independent and honest review.

  • 5
    Love This!

    Posted by Nicole S on 07 21 2021

    This book was easy to read. The material is practical with questions to utilize in applying what was just read. And, the most important thing for me was it cleared up the discussion of self care being biblical by providing an intersection of the gospel and how it applies in this area. As a counselor, advocate, wife, mom, and homeschooler, it was relevant to so many areas in my life.

  • 5
    The Book I've Been Looking For

    Posted by Unknown on 07 11 2021

    This book is the book that I've been searching for for years--how to steward the entirety of my life in the pursuit of glorifying God. It's written by counselors who share practical advice of ways to manage spiritual life, physical life, community life, work life, and a restful life, all for the glory of God. These authors share their insight of how the secular concept of "self-care" has biblical roots. I love that each weekly devotion has a section of how each aspect of biblical self-care points us back to our need to understand and rely on the truths of the gospel. I highly recommend this book to all in the helping professions, especially in ministry.

  • 5
    Strikes the right balance

    Posted by grae_bird on 06 27 2021

    Balance is a good word in the world of self-care—but balance is hard to achieve. Yet, this is what Eliza Huie and Esther Smith illustrate so well in their book on self-care. Balance is found in stories and exposition—yet very practical with weekly action steps. Balance in the holistic scope of each week’s entry and the contents across the book. Best yet, is the balance struck with each week clearly pointing back to the gospel. They get to the heart, truth, motivation, and hope of self-care as they always remind us of the gospel. As someone who wears various hats, including chronic illness, this book met me in so many ways. I resonated with their stories, and was provoked by their journal tips, and encouraged by the gospel. Some topics I would not have expected in a self-care book, which enhanced the journey. A unique book in the world of self-care.

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