If you’ve been on an airplane before, you know how it goes. As you sit there with your electronics switched off wondering if they really interfere with airline communication, the charades begin in the front of the plane – the seat belts, the exit doors, then the oxygen masks. I remember when I was young and they would tell the parents to make sure that “in the case of an emergency,” they put their own masks on first, then tend to the children or people who couldn’t do it themselves. That seemed so selfish to me. “I have smaller lungs,” I thought. “I should be the one who gets the mask first.” Then one day it dawned on me. If my mom passes out while trying to put a mask on me, we’re both out of luck.
A similar rule applies to us spiritually. Paul words it well in Acts 20:28 as he addressed the Ephesian pastors…
“Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock…”
It’s simple, but important. Just like those oxygen masks, if we are more focused on taking care of everyone else than ourselves, we’re all in danger. If you pass out, spiritually, you’re of no help to anyone. That’s why it’s important for pastors (and all Christians) to prioritize the Gospel in our lives.
So how do you “take heed to yourselves”? What does that look like?
Set time aside to spend time with the Lord.
Don’t wait until you “have time,” because, let’s be honest, no one ever “has time.” There are a million other things you can do with your time than spend time reading the Word and praying. It’s easy to fill up your spare time, so make sure that you set time aside. Since you don’t “have time,” that means you need to MAKE time.
For me, it works best in the morning. Yes, that does mean I get up about an hour and half before I’d actually need to wake up, but losing a little sleep is worth it to me. Once my day gets going, slowing down for an hour right in the middle is a challenge and I’m not near as focused. I want to give God my best time, so the morning works for me.
If you’re not a morning person, or it just doesn’t work for you, try a different time – during your lunch break, before bed, etc. My wife is really good at setting aside an hour or so every afternoon when the girls are down for a nap. That works for her. Whenever that time is for you, make time to spend with the Lord.
If you want to impact other people’s lives, the Gospel must be impacting you.
So, although it sounds selfish to put yourself first, in the long run, you’re making yourself more available for others by taking care of yourself!