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.
“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-care—this 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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One of a Christian’s goals is to be a good steward of the Word and that sometimes means giving of yourself to the point where you no longer have anything to give. In today’s harried world, it feels shameful to consider self-care, which is really self-preservation. Counselors Eliza Huie and Esther Smith wrote The Whole Life 52 Weeks of Biblical Self-Care as a working, Biblical journey to bring your best self to your work, your family, and yourself. Each week includes a self-care topic, followed by a Gospel Spotlight, Action & Application, and guided journaling. The format would work well either for individual reflection or as a group study. Topics include Healing Power of the Word, Habits of Eating & Drinking, Screenless or Less Screens, and Danger of Self Driven Workers. Each reading is only 1-2 pages long, making them compact enough to fit into a busy week. The associated reflection points are impactful enough to prompt change – if the reader really takes them to heart. Authors Huie and Smith weave their personal stories into the topics and also include plenty of thoughtful biblical insight and guidance, making The Whole Life feel like a personal coaching session rather than a textbook. The book is broken down into sections that apply to our “whole life”, including Spiritual Life, Physical Life, Purposeful Life, Community Life, Working Life, and Restful Life. Additional tools included at the end include breathing exercises and bullet journaling. The publisher is New Growth Press. Who would enjoy this book? This book is for Christians who are committed to loving God and others, but who pour themselves out and run empty. Anyone who feels tired, frazzled, or overwhelmed by their to-do list will feel understood and hopeful by reading this book. How this book affected me. As a semi-retired work-from-homer, I’m not in a harried phase of life, but I’ve been there. I also know that so many people feel like they’re drowning in daily tasks and responsibilities. As I read the book, I could imagine that this book could be a real game-changer for those who don’t attend to their personal needs. I will definitely recommend it! Our Christian Book Reviews: The book reviews at Finding God Among Us focus on Christian books – adult and children, fiction and nonfiction. Our specialty is books on faith and new Christian book releases. We’re proud to be included in the Top 20 Christian Book Review Bloggers. I chose to read this book in exchange for my honest opinion.