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Holistic self care that honours God

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Four Gifts: Seeking Self-Care for Heart, Soul, Mind, and Strength
April Yamasaki
Herald Press

Review by Craig Thiessen

What is the subject?

Holistic self-care. Yamasaki’s presents self-care as more that simply another item on a personal to-do list, instead casting “a bigger vision of caring for myself that also embraces caring for others and surrendering myself to God’s call and care.” She uses Jesus’ command to love God with heart, soul, mind, and strength from Mark 12:30–31 as the framework for the book, evaluating self-care from the perspective of each of these “four gifts.”

Who is the author?

April Yamasaki is lead pastor at Emmanuel Mennonite Church in Abbotsford, B.C. She also devotes time to writing and speaking in various forums.

Why this book?

“Nicola Lake, B.C., (pictured) represents rest to me – and is where I read this book.”—Craig Thiessen

In our increasingly busy world, the ability to care for oneself is critically important. At the same time, our own self-care can become selfish and even idolatrous. Yamasaki did a great job at evaluating self-care holistically and offering practical suggestions throughout the book on how to implement some of the ideas.

Four Gifts appealed to me because I am fairly new in my pastoral role and have experienced both failure and success in taking care of myself in that short time. I took this book along with me on vacation in hopes of developing further my own ability to care for myself in all areas while ministering effectively.

Comment on the book’s theological perspective in light of the MB Confession of Faith

The book aligns closely with Article 16 of the Confession of Faith: Work, Rest, and the Lord’s Day. Though it does not go deeply into the theology of work, it does affirm work as important and most effective when done with an appropriate level of self-care. Rest is a key theme in the book.

Key insight

In order to fully give myself to God’s mission, I must practice healthy self-care in all areas of my life.


Yamasaki rightly gives attention to the need for community in the book, but I found myself wishing for a bit more on the restorative and soul-filling effects of gathering with God’s people for corporate worship.

Who should read it?

This book is accessible to all; though Yamasaki writes from a pastor’s perspective, her humility, humour, and application allow all to engage in the content. Anyone who would like some help thinking thoroughly about how to care for themselves while still giving of themselves effectively will benefit from this book.

Favorite quotes

“The primary biblical purpose [of Sabbath] as I see it is to put away the idol of control and power and a sense that we run the show. We do not.”


“According to author Andy Crouch, when teenagers were asked what they would most like to change in their relationship with their parents, they responded, ‘I wish my parents were not on their screens and would have paid attention to me’.”

[Craig Thiessen is co-lead pastor of Ross Road Community Church, Abbotsford, B.C. Craig and Jenny have been married nearly 10 years and are parents to Joshua and Kenzi.

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