Anyone who has ever managed to actually pay attention during the safety instructions on an airplane, knows this line:
“When traveling with children, put your own oxygen mask on first before assisting others.”
As much as I don’t want to think about an airplane losing cabin pressure, causing passengers to need an oxygen mask, I have pondered the reality of that admonition. You cannot help your children—or anyone else for that matter—when you don’t have oxygen yourself. They need you to take care of yourself first, so you can take care of them afterwards. They need you to put your own oxygen mask on first.
There’s a deep truth in that advice with applications for youth ministry.
You cannot help others, unless you take care of yourself first. You cannot serve your students in the best way possible, unless you put on your own oxygen mask first. What does that look like?
Feed Yourself Spiritually
You cannot share what you don’t have yourself. Feeding yourself spiritually by spending time in God’s presence through worship, prayer, and studying Scripture is of crucial importance.
Put Your Family First
I’ve learned it the hard way: my family has to come first, before my students or anything and anyone else. It’s not only the right thing to do Biblically (be a good steward of your own household first), but it will help you keep a healthy ministry-life balance—thus allowing you to do ministry in the long run.
Rest and Restore
In yesterday’s post, I stressed the importance of taking a weekly Sabbath and a longer break every year. That’s pure oxygen my friends.
Fill Your Tank
To me, this is the hardest application. You cannot run on ‘empty’: you need to keep your emotional, spiritual, and physical tank filled. That means eating well, taking care of yourself…and doing stuff that brings you pleasure. To me, that’s reading and hiking. After a day of hiking in solitude, I can take on mountains. For you, it may be something else, but you’d better prioritize it.
You cannot serve your students well in the long run, if you don’t take care of yourself first. What do you need to change right now to create oxygen flow?