Put your own oxygen mask on first.

Put your own oxygen mask on first.

Do you want to know a good life hack that will help you be more effective and successful? Have you ever, like me, felt overwhelmed or burned out? Do you struggle to prove your self-worth?

Pastor Shaun gave me some good advice: “Put your own oxygen mask on first.” Of course, he wasn’t just talking about the standard pre-flight briefing. At first, that advice sounds selfish. After all, what if I have several children or people around me who are struggling with their masks? Why should I not regard them as better than myself and help them before I satisfy my own need for breathable air? The answer, of course, is that if I pass out due to lack of oxygen, then I am not able to help anyone, and some of them may die. If I put my own oxygen mask on first, then I’m able to help others, including some who may have passed out, and revive them.

The broader application is obvious, at least to me. There are far more needs in the world than I can care for personally. If I try to care for everyone else before I care for myself, then I will burn out and rather than being helpful to others, I would actually become a burden. I have seen it often among missionaries. I have been in danger of that, myself. Between compassion for those with needs and my desire to prove my worth by what I accomplish, I have often driven myself way too hard. I shouldn’t have. It was counterproductive. I learned a better way. I am still working on perfecting it, but involves four elements of a life style:

  1. Realize that self-worth comes not from what I DO, but from who I AM in Christ Jesus. My value is based on what Father God paid for me, not based on what I do for Him or anyone else.
  2. Always take time to take care of myself spiritually and physically. When I spend time with God in prayer and in Bible reading, I can keep things in perspective better. When I take proper care of my body, then I can stay strong enough to help others.
  3. Value relationships. Loving one another God’s way is not just a command to fulfill, but a source of great joy!
  4. Focus on what God leads me to do, and be led by Him, not by needs. Jesus said he only did what He saw the Father doing (John 5:19). This means that I have to seek God, get quiet enough to hear Him, then obey Him.

So how is this working out? Pretty well! Not only am I in better health spiritually, mentally, and physically, I find that I actually get MORE accomplished than before. More than that, I am more at peace, as are the people I love around me. God’s ways are still the best ways. Of course!