Put your own oxygen mask on first


pressure-gauge-3118811_1920It sounds so wrong when they say it but the flight attendants are right – if you’re travelling with children and the oxygen masks drop down, put your own on before fitting your kids’. Your instinct will be to help them, but if you conk out first, the kids can’t help you.

And you can be certain that the flight attendants will put theirs on before they attend to us! We’d want them to.

It’s a powerful parable of Christian leadership. Robert Murray M’Cheyne famously said that his people’s greatest need was… his personal holiness. Because if we no longer have a live link with the Lord Jesus, then everything we do in our ministries will be spiritually futile – even if it is apparently successful.
So here are seven ways to check you’ve put your own oxygen mask on first.
  • Bible – are you still reading it? Not for talks or prep, or even to be better informed, but as the living, personal Word of God for you as his child? If not, you know what to do.
  • Prayer – are you still doing it? Not just in public (although we all recognise that horrible jolt when we’re called on to pray in public and realise that we haven’t prayed in private that day. Not nice). But for yourself, your family, your godliness, your evangelism?
  • Journalling – if you find it helpful, this is a way of keeping a record of what you’re thinking about and musing over in your prayer and Bible reading. One Christian leader makes a commitment that stuff that goes in there will not be used in public. I don’t think you can maintain that 100%, but the discipline is good.
  • Reading – for yourself, to stretch and grow yourself.
  • 6×6 – this is a Bill Hybels’ tip. Identify six projects that you are giving intensive attention to for a six week period. It’s the sprint rather than a marathon. Discipling the dads. Getting inside Obadiah. Teaching your kids how to tie their own ties and shoelaces – whatever. Write them down and check them daily.
  • Patterns – do what you expect others to do. Turn up on time, pay attention, get involved and remember what you’re supposed to do. If the leader’s late, answering texts while talking, multitasking, and forgetful, guess what becomes the norm?
  • Weekly review – this a staff meeting with yourself each week, to make sure that everything is up to speed, notes of meetings kept, action points identified, emails dealt with, letters sorted, goals set and that your desk (physical, virtual, spiritual, and mental) is cleared for action. For me, that’s a Friday morning task. Takes about an hour. In fact, I’ve put this last as the climax. Put this in the diary, and everything else follows.

2 comments on “Put your own oxygen mask on first”

  1. Hello, I am seeking permission to use the image of the flight attendant you used in this blog in an ebook I’m writing for parents and children. Do you own the copyright for it?

    1. Thanks for alerting me, Jen. No I don’t, and it’s an old post so I hadn’t noticed. I now source all my images from Pixabay, where they are mostly copyright free, and I have replaced it for that blog post.

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