I was trained to be a nurse at Cedarville University. They emphasized whole person care. We were consistently told that we must not reduce our patients to their medical diagnoses–merely physical problems to solve.

Whole person care means making health assessments and care plans across five dimensions. We remembered these dimensions with the acronym SPIES: (1) Spiritual; (2) Physical; (3) Intellectual; (4) Emotional; (5) Social. These dimensions are interrelated and mutually dependent.

This model works anywhere there are humans–not just in hospitals. Your toddler’s fit might be a hunger issue, a sleep issue, a diaper issue, a knowledge issue, social issue, and/or spiritual issue.

Being a savvy care provider–whether you’re a nurse, parent, pastor, friend, spouse, etc. depends on diagnostic skill and wise interventions that address the whole person.

This model also works as a rubric for taking care of ourselves. How are we doing across the five dimensions? Are we intentionally growing in all five areas? If there’s a problem, or multiple problems, do we have access to the care we need?

One of my favorite stories in the Bible is sometimes called “The Lonely Prophet.” Here, we note that the Lord extends whole person care to Elijah when he becomes discouraged: food, sleep, social presence, corrective information, and spiritual care are all in view. If you’d like to watch a talk I did on that passage click here.