I can’t speak for all airlines, but the airline I typically fly has created some clever and entertaining flight safety videos. What better way to recapture people’s attention? Let’s face it, the muffled, over-the-speaker-safety-message, along with the corresponding visual demonstration is pretty easy to tune out!
One of the key instructions in the safety spiel is to secure your oxygen mask before you help others. Yes! Take care of yourself first, even if it is a child you are helping!
Now everyone knows we need oxygen to survive. It’s common sense! They state the obvious because in a crisis we forget to take care of ourselves first.
And sometimes we forget, overlook, or think we are super human so we don’t take care of ourselves even when circumstances are ordinary!
The result: we are of little or no use to those we lead, especially if there is an emergency to contend with. When you invest in taking care of yourself first, you will be in a far better position to deal with whatever might come your way. Who doesn’t want that?
In Christian circles we often shy away from self-care. It seems selfish. The truth is that without self-care we dramatically lesson our effectiveness. As leader’s we set the tone. What we do trickles down. If we are running on empty the likelihood of those below us being empty is significantly higher. Want a healthy team? Be a healthy leader. Make the time to take care of yourself so that you are prepared for what’s ahead.
What is self-care? It is consistently taking the time to care for yourself in these areas: Spiritually, Physically, Emotionally, Relationally, and Intellectually.
Here are some things to think about in those areas:
Connecting with God is perhaps the most important thing you can do to take care of yourself.
- Are you taking daily time alone with God or are you counting your staff devotional as your quiet time?
- When was the last time you spent extended time with God in a fresh way?
- Are you daily in the Word?
- Are you connecting on a spiritual level with other believers? This can be hard for leader types!
- Are you getting the cardio exercise you need?
- How are you working on your strength and flexibility?
- Are you drinking enough water? Eating healthy foods?
- Are you getting enough sleep?
- What are you doing to manage the stress in your life? Nothing will take a toll on your life like stress!
- Are you up to date with your doctor and dentist appointments?
- Are you connected to how you are feeling?
- As you go through your day, how present are you?
- Are there emotions you have been ignoring or not taking the time to express?
- What activities or hobbies are you engaging in that bring you joy?
- Ministry is time consuming! How have your relationships suffered because of it?
- Who is getting your best hours?
- What relationships need your attention?
- Who in your life fills you up?
- What are you doing to grow and expand your knowledge? Is there space in your life to focus on this?
- Is there a topic that you are hungry to learn more about?
- What intellectual challenge is energizing to you?
6. Getting Started
As you read this list there may be a host of things you want to do differently. However, incorporating new habits into your life is not easy. Start small. Pick one area to start caring for you -the area that will have the biggest impact. For example, if you decide to care for yourself physically, you might set a goal to get at least 7-8 hours of sleep each night. What changes in your lifestyle would be necessary to make this possible? Who can hold you accountable? Practice making this a regular part of your life for a week or two. Then take the time to notice the benefits.
When you feel like you have made getting enough sleep a regular part of your life you may wish to move on and add exercise to your routine. Again, what changes in your lifestyle would need to be made? What do you need to cut out of your life to make this possible? Who can you exercise with if that is more motivating? Who can hold you accountable and encourage you to stay on track? Then take the time to notice the benefits.
As you begin to take better care of yourself, it will positively impact your leadership as well.
You have to trust God to slow down and incorporate healthy habits into your life. Trust Him that what really needs to get done will get done.
We all have the same number of hours on our day, and each of those hours will have more impact when you approach them from a well-cared for place. Try it out. You may fail, but as all good leaders know, success comes when you get back up and try again. See what God can do in your life and leadership when you lead yourself well.
When it comes to leading your ministry, what role does self-care play?