Being a student leader in HSM has been one of the most rewarding choices I've made during my time in high school. Student leadership has allowed me to reach outside of my comfort zone and further my relationship with God. However, student leadership has also made me realize the importance of taking care of yourself in order to take care of others.

Last year in HSM was difficult for me as I felt obligated to continue to pour into the people I was serving, despite not feeling poured into; I was driving on an empty tank. As much as I wanted to be a good servant, I couldn’t love others as well as I wanted to because of how exhausted I felt. Serving started to come out of a feeling of commitment rather than out of an overflow of God’s love.

Once I realized this, I began having a lot of anxiety at church. The crowds of people that once seemed like an endless opportunity to show God’s love felt overwhelming and suffocating. It came to the point where going to church no longer sounded appealing to me. That’s when I knew something had to change. I recognized that I needed to focus on being poured into, but that seemed like yet another task I would be responsible to take care of. Being a part of the church, the saying “being poured into” often fills my mind with a to-do list; I should be reading my bible, praying, and attending more church.

I think many people view self-care or being poured into as another thing that takes up time in an already busy schedule. However, self-care shouldn't feel like another constraint; it should be something you can look forward to -- an excuse to take intentional time doing what you enjoy. Being poured into happens when you spend time with God, but this doesn’t just have to be in a church service or reading your Bible. Although these are great ways to be with God, it isn’t the only approach. One of the easiest ways to spend time with God is inviting him into something you enjoy. For me, I love art, especially painting. So when I decide to set time aside for myself, I paint and invite God into that either by listening to calm worship music or painting the nature He created.

There are so many ways to invite God into the activities you find enjoyable. As the first semester of this school year wraps up and as a new  one begins, I would encourage you to schedule time into your week for yourself. Lean into inviting God into your hobbies, whether it's writing, running, or anything in between. God wants to spend time with you and spending time with God is what allows us to be poured into. When you allow yourself to be poured into, it becomes much easier to pour into others as God calls us to do.

- Katie Nicholas

Student Leader