Where Do You Put Yourself in Your List of Priorities?

If you are a Christian, God obviously comes first. Jesus said, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33). He is the ultimate priority. Until He is first, everything else will seem out of kilter.

A Flight Attendant Demonstrating an EMergy Oxygen Mask - Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/sjlocke, Image #15019236

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/sjlocke

But who comes second. You know, after God? This is where it gets tricky.

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I believe you come next. That’s where I put myself, and I make no apologies for it. That means before my family, friends, and career. Even before my ministry.

I don’t think this is because I am selfish or ego-centric. Then why do I do it?

Because I can’t take care of anyone else unless I take care of myself.

If you travel much, you have no doubt heard the flight attendant say some version of the following:

In the event of a change in cabin pressure, panels above your head will open revealing oxygen masks. Pull the mask down toward you to activate the flow of oxygen. Cover your nose and mouth with the mask. Place the elastic band around your head and continue to breathe normally. Remember to secure your own mask before assisting others.”

This is how I look at life. I have to attend to myself first (second only to God) in order to be spiritually, emotionally, intellectually, and physically available to others. If you have trouble with the semantics of putting yourself second, think of it as preparation to serve others.

For example,

  • If I don’t feed myself spiritually, I don’t have the spiritual resources necessary to share with others. This is why I read the Bible and pray daily.
  • If I don’t look after my own health and become sick, I am not much use to my family or my employees. This is why I run and try to eat nutritionally sound food.
  • If I don’t make time for reading great books, I don’t have the intellectual resources I need to share with others.
  • If I don’t make the effort to work through my own emotional wounds, I end up reacting to others instead of being in a position to minister to them. This is why I think counseling and therapy can be a valuable exercise for most people.
  • If I don’t get sufficient rest, I get grumpy. No one wants to be around me. This is why I try to sleep a solid seven hours every night.

In addition, I want to to model how to take care of myself, so that the people under my influence will take care of themselves.

Some Christians insist on putting themselves at the bottom of their priority list. I think this springs from a false—and dangerous—piety. We are in a much better position to serve others when our basic needs are met.

Questions: Where do you fit into your priority list? What do you do to ensure that your needs are met, so you can be a genuine resource to others? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
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  • Timothy Fish

    I see and understand you point. Taking care of ones self is important if we are to be able to take care of others or the things of God. But in context, Matthew 6:33 is saying not to worry about ourself, but instead put God first and let God worry about the things we need to take care of us. If we look at Ephesians 5:25, we find that husbands are to love their wives “as Christ loved the church and gave himself for it.” In other words, husbands should be willing to die for their wives. I’m pretty sure that puts the wife second on a man’s list of priorities. The Bible also says we should love our neighbor as ourselves. That places us on equal footing with those around us.

    If we are truly following the will of God and we have those priorities, I don’t think we’ll have a problem. I think the problem comes when we come up with our own ideas about what the will of God is and we become “weary in welldoing.” We try to do more than what God wants us to do and it prevents us from doing what we should be doing and hinders others from doing what God wants them to do. But if we really are putting God first, he will take care of our needs and we don’t have to worry about them.

    • http://conthis.blogspot.com Joe Sewell

      You have a good point, Timothy. The key, really, is balance. It sounds like Michael is talking to those of us who tend to put ourselves so far down on the list that we wind up worse than burned out, but still push because it’s our “duty.”

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I wish I could have made this clearer. I don’t disagree with you. In my list of priorities I think I am simply advocating a sustainable way to serve others. Thanks.

    • http://relevantbrokenness.com Marni Arnold

      Michael pointed it out very well here, but I wish to clarify something. Yes, we are not to worry about ourselves – however, to take care of our relationship with Him is of vital importance if we are to be effective disciples in Him, and for Him, in this life.

      If we do not take in His life daily, directly after putting His will before ours, we will be ineffective – period.

      We will burn out quickly – period.

      So to embrace ourselves [in relationship to Him] as a priority before even our spouses, and children, in this life (directly after God Himself) is not to “worry” about ourselves – it is simply embracing Him into our lives in relationship – so in turn, He is the one pouring out through us, onto those we love and come in contact with.

      • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

        And, as a husband, keeping myself in line with God’s plan helps me to be the spiritual leader in my home that I need to be. Good point, Marni. Thanks!

      • Ajr1234


    • http://familysynergy.wordpress.com JD Eddins

      I think you may have missed the point of the post. If you look at the story of the Good Samaritan it is clear that the Samaritan cared for the man who had been injured. But the only way he could have put the man on his donkey and paid for his stay at the inn is if he had taken care of himself by working and saving what he had earned.
      I think in the same way, the only way I can serve my wife like Ephesians 5 calls me to do is to truly follow the example of Christ. Christ repeatedly took time to be alone in prayer with God. On one occasion, after he heals Peter’s mother-in-law, he leaves the house early so that he can have this time to himself, before another busy day of healing the sick.
      I think we see a clear example from Christ of taking care of himself, sustaining his relationship with the Father first, before he took care of others.

      • Ajr1234


    • OneWingedButterfly

      My comment is meant for the author of the blog not for Timothy since I whole heartily agree with Timothy’s comment.

      Jesus *deny himself* for us. He died for our sins. He gave us an example on how to pray. He helped the poor, and the sick, and he counseled..I repeat all while he deny himself.  He told the rich ones who wanted to follow Him, to give up all they have and *follow* Him. Jesus was and is the perfect example of how we who believe in Him ought to do. I get want you’re saying in your blog but I felt a slight confusion and some uneasiness with your words since I feel it contradicts with Jesus’ actions.  I do agree that one needs to take care of themselves but putting one before other brothers and sisters sounds selfish. Loving others and serving others is doing G*d’s will…and in essence is putting G*d first.

      If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For
      anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen.  1 John 4:20

    • Ajr1234

      I thank you for the scriptures that held me bound almost all my life but quite naturally and spiritually when we seek his guidance which is a one on one with God everything follows according to his Will. My exact point is if we do not do a one on one with God how can we follow his instructions? We become weary when we have not seek Gods help and we run out of our steam. I know today when I follow Gods instructions which again is a one on one through prayer and supplication by his holy spirit only is his ordinances met. The scriptures you wrote are true every last word of God is true the problem I wad having how to honor them in my own strength? The first Commandment says we must Love God with all our heart and soul, secondly Love thou neighbor as our self. Personal time is needed in all those commandments. Love is the keynote player. I thank you so much for those rich supportive scriptures. Please continue to pray for me as I seek God counsel in more understanding.

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  • http://spotsandwrinkles.blogspot.com/ Marsha Young

    This is an excellent reminder about taking care of “the temple”. Frankly, sometimes my steeple gets a little tilted as I try to do too much “taking care of” others.

    To care about is not the same thing as to take care of; and thus, I need to allow others to develop themselves while I take care of myself. Now where is the treadmill in this hotel?????

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I like your extension of the metaphor. There are a lot of people with “tilted steeples.”

    • Ycausey

      Well said! Some of the other comments seem “over righteous.”  I totally understand what Michael is saying; I am at this very point. I have so neglected myself in the pursuit of caring for others. I recently found out I had a potentially deadly bacteria infection, all the while wondering why God closed doors. Now I know why, I simply needed to visit my doctor take my prescribed medication, rest and get well.We do need to take care of ourselves and not to feel guilty for it. Let’s not over spiritualize things. God is practical also. He is not made at us for taking care of ourself.

  • SueB

    Very wise post and I agree completely. I try to plan little bits of time strictly for myself throughout the day – reading, walking or creating.

  • http://bikiniorbust.wordpress.com/ Donloree

    Agreed! I spent way too many years not even putting myself on the list! Now eating healthy, going to the gym, and ensuring I am taken care of has actually resulted in way better relationships with my family and friends. Some people don’t get this; but that’s ok. I know that they haven’t even put themselves on their list yet…so I am patient with them.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Yes, and we have to ask ourselves why some of these people who are always serving are so out-of-shape and ultimately struggling with their health. I have known many leaders who put their ministry first and then gone through a divorce, the rebellion of a child, or a health blowout. It’s a bad formula.

      • Ycausey

        You are speaking the truth.

  • http://twitter.com/doughibbard Doug Hibbard

    I think I often try and make myself feel better by being the complete, self-sacrifical martyr for others. It’s not done out of true righteousness, but rather to look good.

    It’s important to note the distinction you’ve made: we should do what is necessary to be our best so that others benefit, not so that we look good. I’ll work on that.

    What do I do? Get enough rest. Drink some coffee in the mornings. Watch TV that makes me laugh (fortunately, I have a netflix subscription so that I can find funny instead of counting on network TV these days!) and not feel guilty about taking that 30 minutes to an hour.


    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Really, the ultimate goal is to serve others, as you noted. The best way to do that, in my opinion, is to take care of yourself.

      • http://twitter.com/doughibbard Doug Hibbard

        Absolutely. We can’t do for others when there’s nothing left of us.

        • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

          Another way to say it, you can’t give what you don’t have. In the same spirit, Paul tells the Ephesians, “Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need.”

      • Ycausey


  • http://www.bradfarris.com/ Brad Farris

    Have you read any of Tony Schwartz’s books? His newest one has the unfortunate title “Be Excellent at Anything”. Though not Christian books per se, Tony goes through extensive research about what leads to high performance and surprisingly it’s getting enough sleep, regular exercise and eating right, taking care of your emotions etc. If you take care of your self you are much more able to be present and engaged in what you choose to do with your day.

    While this is not an earth shattering conclusion, it is tough to live by. I find myself wondering, if this is so obvious why don’t I do a better job with eating and exercise. But that’s a post for another day.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Tony has been a virtual mentor to me. I first discovered him back in 1998. I read his book Stress for Success (along with co-author Jim Loehr). Think this is now titled, The Power of Full Engagement. It was a life-changer for me.

      This newest book, Be Excellent at Anything, appears to the retitled version of The Way We’re Working Isn’t Working. I recommended this to my Mentoring Group last fall. It is great!

  • Anonymous

    Great post! I hadn’t thought about it this way before, but it is so true, if I am not in top form, I can’t be there for my wife, kids, employees, or friends. After a ridiculous run for a deadline, I am starting back up on my P90X routine tonight…thanks for taking care of yourself so that we can read great posts like this!

  • http://www.JanetOberholtzer.com Janet Oberholtzer

    Hi, it’s been awhile since I commented. Love this post, because I’ve come to the same decision.

    For a time, I didn’t even like myself, so naturally I didn’t put myself first. With a counselor’s help I became aware that loving myself was part of a healthy life. “Love others as yourself”
    I began liking myself. Not in a narcissistic way, but in a healthy way. The personal mental beatings stopped. I gave myself grace. And I took care of myself … body, mind and spirit.

    Now my life, and the lives of the people around me, are much better because I value myself and take care of myself.

    Thanks for this great post!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Janet. I think your personal story will resonate with many.

  • http://LiveIntentionally.org @PaulSteinbrueck

    Mike, I agree with you for the most part. One of the best gifts you can give your family, your company, your church, and your community is a healthy self.

    But I don’t think it’s quite that cut and dry. I think we have to compare the relative severity of the needs. If I have a crying baby in the other room, it’s probably better to lose some sleep and care for them than put a pillow over my head. There are 100 things I’d rather do for myself on a Saturday than go to a funeral, but someone close to a friend of mine dies, I’m going to be there for them. Going to Haiti is by definition a health risk, but I think we all commend those people who have taken that risk (not to mention spend their money and vacation time) to help the Haitian people.

    Perhaps it’s more a matter of having a healthy cycle of sacrificial giving and rejuvenation.

    • www.therextras.com

      Good point, Paul. I took it that if you have an underlying habit of taking care of yourself you can do those other things to help others. For a crying baby, a parent will be following Michael’s recommendation if they get their rest at other times and not over-commit to other things – giving both self and their child ‘priority’. Barbara

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      These are all good points, Paul. One of the reasons I enjoy the comments on my blog so much is that it gives us all a chance to sharpen our thinking and expand on the ideas I share. It is difficult to cover it all in 500 or so words! Thanks.

    • Bwenman

      Good points, but I think you are talking about short term decisions vs. long term decisions. I think Michael is talking about a long term commitment to take care of ourselves and make sure we are at our best to serve others. In the shorter term decisions we make every day, we are asked to serve those around us as Christ would do. I am sure there were a lot of people who needed Jesus when he took the time to go and pray alone, but he knew he needed to do that to recharge and serve even more effectively in the long term. Great post, Paul and Michael!

  • http://twitter.com/NewEnglandHiker Roy Wallen

    The risk of putting oneself ahead of others — except in the case of reduced cabin pressure — is that we, as humans, will get caught up in the egocentric world around us (iPod, iPad, My Documents, My Music, email-dot-me). From my perspective, it’s about keeping the elements of life in balance — as well as a balancing act. God is certainly first in my life and I will compromise everything else (career, reading, hiking, even family) for serving Him. However, the other elements of my life are all important and need attention. It’s not all about me but rather about family, career, and me all at the same time.
    Christ makes it very clear that we are to love our neighbors as ourselves, to love our wives as he loved the Church, to be diligent in all that we do as if it is for Him. Especially as Christians, including myself in this audience, we need to avoid the me-first approach of the world around us. Otherwise, how can we tell Christians apart from others?

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Actually, I don’t disagree. I am simply saying that we are in a much better place to serve others if we “sharpen our own saw” first.

  • Jay

    Great post. I always thought “putting other people first” is a universally impossible tasks, not to mention kind of pathological, and it bugs me when I hear Christians say it. You need to look after yourself, but Jesus, as well as plenty of other religions of cultures said that you shouldn’t ONLY look after yourself.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      That’s the key. It doesn’t end with you. You take care of yourself in order to take care of others.

  • http://twitter.com/MacKinnonChris Chris MacKinnon

    I think you’ve written a description of what is like to actually put others first by putting yourself first. It is a matter of perspective. You don’t put yourself first to fulfill your own dreams and desires; you manage and feed yourself so that you can be fit to fulfill the needs of others. I think if we can understand that as leaders (pastors, management, parents, spouses) we need to be fit so we can be available and beneficial to others, we will be able to live from that healthy perspective.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt


  • http://annejacksonwrites.com Anne Jackson

    I see it more as a wheel. Spirituality & faith as the axle. Each part of my life is a spoke. If you consider it a bicycle tire, if one of the spoke becomes weak or loose and you keep riding, your wheel gets jacked up. If your axle is misaligned or loose, you’re pretty much eating pavement.

    The west has a tendency to place things in a hierarchy and the east more in a circle, or cyclically. I learned this thought from someone who has a more eastern philosophy, and I really appreciated it.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      This is a much better metaphor. I am totally stealing this. I think it communicates the idea more clearly. Thanks, Anne.

    • http://stevencribbs.com Steven Cribbs

      That is a great word picture to describe the balance in life that we need. There are times when one element needs more attention than the others; but, in the end, each element is a part of who we are and they all must work together in order for the ‘whole’ to function properly.

      Of course, sometimes we have to get rid of the extra bling that we like to put on the spokes :-)

  • http://geoffreywebb.wordpress.com/ Geoff Webb

    Great post and great comments! I love the oxygen mask analogy (actually I also used it in a post on leading yourself [ http://geoffreywebb.wordpress.com/2010/09/16/lead-yourself-first/ ])

    I 100% agree with leading yourself first. Some of my reasons/thoughts/motivations:

    1. Jesus did it. Throughout his ministry he consistently got up early, sent crowds away, even sent the disciplines away in order to get time on his own to fast and pray—to take care of himself & stay connected with the Father.

    2. We’re commanded to. The “second” commandment, to love our neighbor as ourselves, implies that we are loving ourselves well. If we’re not loving ourselves well, then it’s not that hard to love our neighbors equally as poorly.

    The fine line in loving ourselves well (as with any love) is to ensure that as we care for ourselves we aren’t giving in to ourselves.

    • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

      My thoughts exactly. As I read through the comments, I kept thinking “someone needs to point out that Jesus did this a LOT!” Glad you did. Saved me some typing… ;)

      • http://geoffreywebb.wordpress.com/ Geoff Webb

        Ha! anytime I can be of help ;)

  • Lynette Sowell

    This goes right along with Jesus talking about the greatest commandments. If we’re to love our neighbor “as we love ourselves,” we must have a healthy self-love for ourselves, which means doing all those things you mentioned. A good post to start the new week.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Good point. I think we need to distinguish between healthy self-care (which both Jesus and the Apostle Paul assume) and unbridled narcissism, which Paul condemns (see 2 Timothy 3:1–2).

  • http://successbeginstoday.org/wordpress John Richardson

    The first time I read this idea on your blog, I had to stop in my tracks. I had never heard anything like this in Christian circles before. Instantly the “This can’t be true,” buzzers went off in my head. Reading your post and comments today though, really opened my eyes. If I really put others completely on the list before myself, I would never blog. I would post comments on other blogs but never write myself. A missionary could never eat, but would have to give all they had to the hungry and starving around them. We would never get to hear your ideas and experience your blog, because you wouldn’t be writing.
    I think a great picture here is one of a teacher. We need to keep learning so we can share our ideas with others. We need to keep improving our skills so the ideas we share are powerful and up to date. Imagine a computer teacher from the 80’s who hadn’t taken care of their learning needs. We’d all be learning Commodore 64 basic… yikes!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, John. I was just thinking of it like a car engine. We don’t change the oil and keep it tuned up, because it’s an end itself. Instead, we do it so that we can drive our car and get to our destination without a breakdown!

  • http://www.davidsantistevan.com David Santistevan

    I think I agree with you, Mike. My issue is knowing when I’m spending TOO MUCH time on myself. For example, writing blog posts rather than talking to my wife, reading a book instead of having coffee with a friend, listening to a podcast rather than witnessing to the person next to me on a plane. I think it’s possible to be overly focused on yourself and you can use it as an excuse for not engaging with those around you. Any tips on how much is too much?


    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I dedicate the first two hours of each day to self-care. I think of this as preparation. I read my Bible, pray, feed myself intellectually, exercise, etc. Then I am basically spending the rest of the day serving others.

      • http://www.davidsantistevan.com David Santistevan

        Helpful. Thanks.

      • http://2020visiononline.org Josh Hood

        I like that approach. That’s a beautiful way of looking at it.

  • Jenniferhinz13

    As a working (part time) mom of 3, I am learning the hard way that this is true. As my husband so eloquently said, “you are no good to us dead!”

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      That is perfect! I faced this in my own experience a decade ago. Due to heavy demands at work, I had stopped exercising and stopped eating healthy food. Then I ended up in the ER in a major health crisis. Thankfully, I survived, but it woke me up to the importance of taking care of myself.

  • http://www.fbcgallatin.org Larry Yarborough, Jr.

    As a pastor with four services on Sunday and four people at home who love me, I’ve learned they are more important than the church. If I die, the church will grieve for a month or so (maybe) and then move on. My wife & children will wake up everyday for years missing me. You’re right, Michael, if I don’t stay spiritually connected & physically well – I’m no good to anyone … especially my household.

  • http://brettcohrs.com Brett

    I’ve been preaching this idea to others ever since I read it in a post you wrote a while ago (your Priority Management & Life Balance post from about a year and a half ago).

    And I’ve seen how vital it is. I have twin toddlers and a preschooler who were on a great schedule. I could get up at 5am, exercise, have prayer/study time, and be out of the house by 7:15 after saying ‘good morning’ to everybody.

    The kids have decided 5am is their new wake-up time and for the last month or so, my personal care time has been decimated. It’s taking a toll.

    My struggle is to come up with a plan B that works consistently when the rest of the day is taken over by other priorities. I know, by current experience, that personal time is absolutely vital to being present with my wife, my kids, my clients.

    • http://brettcohrs.com Brett

      I started a post on finding a Plan B to make sure that the vital disciplines get addressed even if scheduling is continually bamboozled by unavoidable outside influences. It’s based on having those 2-4 disciplines that are necessary to our spiritual, mental, emotional, and intellectual health.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      With young kids especially, you have to be flexible. One of my daughters uses late evenings for taking care of herself. I don’t think there is any ideal time. The most important thing is, as you say, finding a Plan B.

      • http://stevencribbs.com Steven Cribbs

        Having young kids always creates a necessity for flexibility – you never know when they will be up during the night with them and you can always count on their needs being a high priority through-out the day. Intentionality and Perseverance are important in those times – otherwise, it is so easy to let the important things slip for way too long.

  • http://brettcohrs.com Brett

    I’ve been preaching this idea to others ever since I read it in a post you wrote a while ago (your Priority Management & Life Balance post from about a year and a half ago).

    And I’ve seen how vital it is. I have twin toddlers and a preschooler who were on a great schedule. I could get up at 5am, exercise, have prayer/study time, and be out of the house by 7:15 after saying ‘good morning’ to everybody.

    The kids have decided 5am is their new wake-up time and for the last month or so, my personal care time has been decimated. It’s taking a toll.

    My struggle is to come up with a plan B that works consistently when the rest of the day is taken over by other priorities. I know, by current experience, that personal time is absolutely vital to being present with my wife, my kids, my clients.

  • Ben

    Excellent points. Have you noticed that when you are reading good books and are consistently studying the Word, you have more chances to minister to others? I find that what I recently read in the Bible or in a book seems relevant to a conversation I’m in. I started to say God gives me more opportunities to minister, but I don’t think that’s the case. I think those opportunities are always there, but I miss them if I’m not staying sharp.

  • http://twitter.com/bluegoose88 Pamela McCurdy

    Lots to think about here….I think I’m still in the learning to seek Him first category after years of putting others literally first – and suffering continual burnout.
    Thanks for opening up such great discussion!

  • http://twitter.com/Juanbg Juan

    Hi Mike, Well said, You (Me) is second, to me not being the second is not taking full responsibility of the great task God gave me, to be successful, to live to my maximum, to help others, to serve him.
    Me being the second, is taking accountability of my deeds, is knowing that this gift of life is a gift that has to be nurtured, that I need to be thankfull, and that God wants me to be good and do good.
    God first, Me second, Family third and Work fourth – everyelse falls in its place.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt


  • Anonymous

    This is such a great point. The balance is tricky between putting my self second in a healthy way versus doing so from self-centeredness. But, something I’ve been learning recently is that in the two greatest commands, there is actually a third point made that I have often overlooked. I’m supposed to love God completely. I’m supposed to love others as I love myself. But then there is that third point. If I don’t love myself properly, I can’t love others properly.

  • http://modernservantleader.com/ Benjamin Lichtenwalner

    I struggled a bit with this one Michael. I agree with your points and the criticallity of maintaining our health, spirituality and intellect in order to serve others. However, because I believe our ambition is to do these things so we can best serve others, I consider myself to be lower on the priority list. For example, my selfish interests would have me spending more time on my motorcycle or pursuing other hobbies than I do today. To extend your points, if I was focusing solely on myself, I may choose to exercise to a greater extent – until I had an ideal physique and not just a healthy body. Instead, from a position of maintaining myself to best serve others, I still consider myself lower on the priority list, while still prioritizing the development of my health, spirituality and intellect.

    In short, I think I agree with your approach and intent, I just consider the same approach to be prioritizing others above ourselves.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I tend to think of self-care as “preparation to serve.” If I am to be God’s instrument, the instrument has to be tuned. However, it is not tuning for tunings sake. It is in order to be used. I think we are saying the same thing. Thanks.

      • http://stevencribbs.com Steven Cribbs

        “Preparation to serve” – great perspective…and a great way to keep us focused on the bigger God story instead of just our own small story.

      • http://modernservantleader.com/ Benjamin Lichtenwalner

        I agree with Steven – that’s a good way to put it Michael. As always, I enjoy the clarity and challenge your posts bring. Thanks for sharing.

  • http://www.yuzzi.com Rick Yuzzi

    When you look at it in this context, I agree. It can seem a little contradictory, but it’s not. We’re called to put others before ourselves, but if you don’t take care of yourself first in the basics, you won’t be able to do that. For example, you mention regularly getting a good night’s sleep. If you had a neighbor who called on you in the middle of the night with a problem, I’m sure you’d put them first and forgo your seven hours, and you’d be rested enough to help. We have a long race to run. We must be ready to be used by God when he calls on us, which, among other things, means being in good physical, mental and spiritual shape.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Yes, I agree. There will be exceptions. Nothing in life is 100%. If I had a friend or family member in need, I would drop what I am doing to serve them. But as a general pattern, I have to take care of myself, so that when the opportunity arises, I am ready and able to serve.

  • Anonymous

    This post describes my greatest struggle, balance & boundaries. We hear so much about sacrifice and laying down your life in church, a message like this seems un-spiritual. It’s truly one of the greatest deceptions of our generation.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I honestly think the devil uses it to wear us out and keep us from serving others in a way that is helpful and has impact.

      • www.therextras.com

        I agree!


  • http://gailbhyatt.wordpress.com/ Gail Hyatt

    There is no doubt that I have been the beneficiary of Michael’s intention to put this into practice.

    First of all, he is rarely sick or complaining of aches and pains. What a gift that is!

    He’s usually full of positive energy and that is contagious. Getting the right amount of rest and keeping the body moving does wonders for the body, the mind AND the emotions!!

    I know it seems a little counter-intuitive to put yourself 1st (after God), but it really is one of the most UN-selfish things a person can do.

    I’m grateful for a husband who has figured this one out. He doesn’t go overboard. He doesn’t obsess. Balance is the key. Thank’s Babe!

    • Anonymous

      This is very powerful, Gail. What a great endorsement. This is a delicate walk for me and my wife b/c I lean towards the “obsess” side you mention. So this confirms that I need to take care of myself *within reason and with great discipline*. But this comment is a refreshing testimonial to a system that is working for you two.

  • jordan

    Very well put. It is often difficult to find balance in an imbalanced world. Spending too much time either on yourself or others can cause problems. This seems to be a common issue among churches because we have to look good on the outside by doing as much as we can at church. In the meantime, we neglect ourselves and in turn hurt those closest to us. Balance is key and it takes time and effort to get there.

  • Jennifer

    This is a great point and one that so many people miss. We can’t be everything we need to be if we are neglecting ourselves and putting ourselves last on our list. Great insight Michael! Thanks for sharing.

  • Dan

    Having been raised Mennonite this was a difficult lesson for me to learn. We were taught to give until there is nothing left to give – to essentially kill the Golden Goose. I love the Jewish Havdalah service where the family pours wine into a cup until it runs over into the saucer beneath. The symbolism is to fill one’s own cup and then continue pouring for the benefit of others. The Jewish view is that attending to your own vineyard is not shameful, but in fact a moral obligation. I see people who always have an empty cup and they don’t realize they have little to give – emotionally, spiritually or financially.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I love this Jewish tradition. What a wonderful metaphor!

  • http://relevantbrokenness.com Marni Arnold

    I have struggled with this very thing since being a Christian – but like you, I think the exact same thing concerning putting on the O2 mask in the event of losing cabin pressure in an airplane. I need to put on first in order to be able to still be able to help others around me. However, it is taught over and over again in Churches and Ministries (like you point out) – “God, spouse, children…and at the very bottom, yourself.”

    But when all is said and done, why? Why do this to ourselves when He has created for us to be His disciples? We cannot become disciples (especially, effective disciples) if we are always putting our relationship with God at the bottom of the list. It doesn’t work that way. We must be able and willing to have a self-love (not selfishness – two very different things) for ourselves enough that facilitates a relationship with Him, so in turn we can pour it out onto our spouses, children and everyone else.

    So lately, I have been putting myself directly after Him – so as to be able to pour out the love He shares with me out onto others. I am inhaling the life-breathing “air” of Him into my body when I do this – so that when I breathe out, He comes out onto others.

    It is a struggle to keep up with – as life will distract and tell you otherwise.

  • http://pastoralized.com Eric

    I’m not sure it’s quite right to put God on a list of priorities. It gives the idea that God is separated from the other things in our life. But if God is the one and only person that I am completely obsessed with – because he sent his Son to die for me! – then I’m going to take care of myself, care for my family, be a good leader, etc. All this is a response to what he has done for me.

    Mike, it appears that you don’t fall into this trap hook-line-and-sinker, since you point out that you need to take care of yourself so you can minister to others. This indicates to me that God is a priority within your other priorities.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Absolutely. As someone once said, “Either Christ is Lord of all or He is not Lord at all.” It is difficult to find one illustration or metaphor that conveys everything.

  • http://studio27b.net Dave Nash of Studio27b.net

    When I was a pastor I often found myself toward the bottom of the list. I proclaimed a top (under
    God) position, but in practice I typically was bottom feeding. I gave so much to the church that I felt I needed to compensate by giving next to my family…I was last.

    The reality of that pattern was burn-out. Because I allowed the church to trump my family…my family suffered. Because I allowed my family to trump my needs (fine line here) I was, as you said Mike, virtually useless to them.

    It wasn’t worth it.

    I’m not a pastor anymore. I still desperately love God and serving His Church, but I have flipped my priorities around. I still strugle at times to find the right ballance. I’ve learned, however, that what your saying is true: breath from your own oxygen mask first…so you can care for others better.

    Thanks for the post!

  • Rbodenstab

    When as about the first commandment, Jesus quotes, “you shall love the Lord your God…this is the first commandment and the second is like it, you shall love your neighbor as yourself…”
    How can we love others if we do not first love ourselves…which includes taking care of our needs (not selfishly, but sacrificially) so that we can take care of our neighbors.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1430972172 Alli Worthington

    This is just what I needed to read today. 2011 is *supposed* to be the year I remember to take care of myself without feeling selfish. Wonderful reminder that leaders have a responsibility to take care of themselves.

  • http://2020visiononline.org Josh Hood

    It is all about motivation, isn’t it? Doing things for ourselves, but with the purpose of helping others. When did you learn this, Mike? When did you start putting yourself second, and what caused you to discover this principle?

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I started doing this after I had a major health crisis in 2001. Like most things in life, I had to learn the hard way!

  • http://twitter.com/douggamble douggamble

    I agree but do wrestle through the semantics of it all. I have even preached “balance” and you can’t give to others what you do not have. I believe that. Yet, really putting God first means we spend time with him first which is taking care of ourselves spiritually. In many ways like Rob Bell preached “Everything is spiritual.” So you could make a case that taking care of ourself is implied through it all. However, I do agree with your point that often we let less important but urgent things take priority over more important but not urgent things like exercise. thanks for the post.

  • http://findinggodsfingerprints.wordpress.com/ Erica McNeal

    I love how you talk about working through your emotional wounds so that you can be in a position to minister to others. I think that’s what God is all about – relationships.

    • http://2020visiononline.org Josh Hood

      I recently heard a prominent speaker say “You can’t minister from your wounds; but you can minister from your scars.” Once God has healed us, then we can minister to others…

  • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

    I completely agree. And I’ve struggled off and on whether or not this is selfish, too, like some of the comments have mentioned. But in order for me to be the leader in my marriage, my family, and my ministry, I have to be in the proper shape.

    As a result, I started writing my goals out bout 10 years ago. This year, I changed them around a bit, using your posts on lifeplans, and Ron Edmondson’s (www.ronedmondson.com). I think that helps me to be even more the person God has called and created me to be . That way I can help my wife achieve the same thing, and my children, and the people within my youth ministry….

    Thanks for the great thoughts!

    • http://2020visiononline.org Josh Hood

      Very true. And I would argue that the better we take care of ourselves (and the clearer our life-plan) the better we will be able to help others…

      • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

        I agree completely!

  • Roger

    Good stuff Mike. In the Bible we are admonished to love others AS we love ourselves. Our ability to take care of others properly is conditional on our own love of self. This is very different from selfishness and self-centeredness in my opinion. The real problem comes when we elevate ourselves above God and that’s been the problem since Adam.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Yep. I totally agree.

  • http://twitter.com/DanaMNelson Dana Nelson

    This is so powerful and true. My friend just last week said ” What do you do when your feeling drained , nothing left to give? Besides feel guilty?” I simply replied, “Walk away, remember to put your mask on first.” ( So I really like the picture you used!)

    Even more powerful and courageous than you to share this is that Gail backs you 100%. What an amazing team you two are.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      She is an enormous source of encouragement and strength to me. I am indeed blessed!

  • http://LookingForPurpose.com Dylan Dodson

    We often think that we are “supposed” to be last in our lives. Great demonstration in showing the problem with that thinking! If we are doing it for the right reasons, it isn’t because we are trying to be selfish.

  • http://www.christopherscottblog.typepad.com/ Christopher Scott

    I put God first and me second.

    The main way that I keep myself a priority is that I have some quiet time in the morning to myself. This allows me to read my Bible, pray, talk with God, and get some of my own thoughts down on paper before starting the day. This allows me to feel filled up and ready to rock-n-roll when I get to work at 8am.

    This is something I’ve just began doing over the past five years, but it has had a tremendously positive affect on my attitude and productivity.

  • http://familysynergy.wordpress.com JD Eddins

    As a person who has worked as a minister and therapist I know the importance of taking care of yourself. I think you will find that most therapists also make time to see a therapist of their own because the pressure and the issues in our own lives can sometimes spill over into sessions with our clients, which is rarely a good deal.
    Like many who read this blog, I also find daily time to read my Bible and pray. I have also found that running is one of the best ways of helping me care for myself. I tend to run alone and I don’t listen to any music. This gives me time to simply clear my mind and think about my day. The exercise also, obviously, helps keep me healthy.

  • Desertrose5173

    I totally agree, because the second greatest commandment if to love our neighbors AS you love yourself. If you don’t love yourself, you won’t love others. I agree it sounds selfish, but it isn’t as long as you look out for the concerns of others as well as your own.

  • TNeal

    Years ago, I read a book by Bill Easum entitled “Put On Your Own Oxygen Mask First.” He focused primarily on pastors but his message reiterates in a book what yours does in a blog.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      That is a great title!

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  • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

    Naturally, I tend to take care of myself first. I feel there is nothing wrong in this. But when we fail to use it for the nourishment / betterment of others, there is a real danger developing within us. Hence, we need to have a clear focus of achieving ultimate end. I am reminded of the anonymous saying, “Equip yourself well first and then you can change the whole world.”

  • http://www.elizabethingersoll.blogspot.com Anonymous

    I know the importance of caring for myself, but sometimes I feel guilty for doing so.

    For example, my husband likes to take our boys to the park to play baseball on Saturdays. I work all week, and I CRAVE solitude sometimes–my brain just needs it. With six people living in my house, that’s hard to come by. So often on those weekends, I choose a few quiet hours at home alone over an afternoon at the field.

    He thinks I’m being anti-social.

    I think he doesn’t understand that it’s how I’m wired, and my way of relaxing is not the same as his.

    So, do I give in and go play ball, but feel like a martyr for doing it, or do I stay home and feel guilty for not going, even though it’s really what I want to do?

    I’m still looking for a win in this situation!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I think it is worth having an honest discussion about this with your husband. Even in my own marriage, Gail’s needs and mine are vastly different. She is an extrovert; I am an introvert. She gets recharged by being with people; I get recharged by being alone. The good thing is that we know this and work to give the other what they need.

    • rose

      this thread is one year ago, I hope you already find the balance…I have similar situation, where I usually like to rest on the weekend and do nothing but I found out that I can do every other weekend going out with friends so my social life does not suffer and I still have my “me time weekend”.

  • Anonymous

    I have learned to stop feeling guilty for saying no to others. There are days I have to attend to me, in order to be a better friend to them. I am a recovering co-dependent, so using my “no” muscle is a big step for me.

  • http://www.shirleybrosius.com Shirley Brosius

    At the beginning of the new year, I developed the following missions statement: My mission for 2011 is to take care of myself physically and to grow closer to God spiritually so that I am prepared to share my faith through personal witness, writing, speaking and serving in my church.

    I then set short term and long term goals in the categories of physical, spiritual, mental, ministry, career, home, family and creativity. It keeps me motivated when I’m feeling too lazy to exercise, etc.

  • Greg Finke

    Can’t wait to hear you next week at Kingdom Advisors! This is the same thing that John Maxwell said a couple of months ago when I heard him speak. Is tough for us people pleasers though.

  • http://scottkantner.com Scott Kantner

    It’s refreshing to hear boldly stated what could be easily be taken the wrong way. What you’ve pointed out serves fresh notice that I often find “myself” at the end of a long line of other priorities. Taking care of yourself first so that you can take care of others is strikingly logical, yet surprisingly difficult to take consistent action on.

    We can easily see in the life of Jesus that he practiced this policy, at least to a degree. Despite constant crowds and attention we often find him going off to a desolate place to pray, or getting away to recharge.

  • Terry

    The word I struggle with is “priority.” Yes, we must take care of ourselves as biblically instructed, but our biblical “priority” is God, others, and ourselves. We take care of others’ needs as our second priority best when we take care of ourselves. But, when the needs of others are greater than ours, they come first.

  • http://kevinmartineau.blogspot.com Kevin M.

    This is something that I struggled with for many years and it eventually lead to a time of burnout. Since that time of burnout I have learned that it is not “wrong” to take care of myself. I do this by:

    *Taking 2 days off in a row each week (one of those being a sabbath day).
    * Planning my life around my breaks instead of planning my breaks around my life.
    * Going to a conference each year for personal growth and refreshment.
    * Being home more nights than I am out.

    • http://stevencribbs.com Steven Cribbs

      I like your point of “planning life around your breaks instead of planning breaks around your life.” I tend towards the side of trying to plan breaks around life – and, too many times the breaks get pushed out, minimized, dilluted or even cancelled. And then the other people in my life that the benefit from the breaks (such as family) end up missing out.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      This is a great list, Kevin. Thanks.

    • http://peterpollock.com Peter P

      You and Michael Hyatt are very alike in many ways, Kevin…

      Great wisdom comes from both of your blogs about these kinds of things.

      I LOVE it that I’ve found you both online.

  • http://peterpollock.com Peter P

    Great post, Michael.

    Excellent way to handle a potentially controversial subject!

  • http://twitter.com/courtenayrogers Courtenay Rogers

    I find it refreshing that you are able to say this, as too many people would be afraid of what others have to say on the matter. I totally agree, and as a single mom and business owner, I have to remind myself to do the same. Thanks for your honesty and the reminder!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      You’re welcome. I knew I would get some criticism, but I meet too many people who are suffering from burnout, all because they felt they needed to put others ahead of themselves.

  • Anonymous

    I had to learn to put myself first (after God) so that I could start to heal from being raped as a child. It was a long process, believing that I was allowed to be before my husband and family. But once I started to take that time, then I was able to see healing in my life.

  • Anonymous

    I had to learn to put myself first (after God) so that I could start to heal from being raped as a child. It was a long process, believing that I was allowed to be before my husband and family. But once I started to take that time, then I was able to see healing in my life.

  • http://stevencribbs.com Steven Cribbs

    I like your point of “planning life around your breaks instead of planning breaks around your life.” I tend towards the side of trying to plan breaks around life – and, too many times the breaks get pushed out, minimized, dilluted or even cancelled. And then the other people in my life that the benefit from the breaks (such as family) end up missing out.

  • http://stevencribbs.com Steven Cribbs

    I like your point of “planning life around your breaks instead of planning breaks around your life.” I tend towards the side of trying to plan breaks around life – and, too many times the breaks get pushed out, minimized, dilluted or even cancelled. And then the other people in my life that the benefit from the breaks (such as family) end up missing out.

  • http://goinswriter.com Jeff Goins

    I know that people had mixed reactions to it, but the Prayer of Jabez made me realize why I need to not neglect the discipline of praying for myself.

  • Sarah S.

    I 100% agree! I confess, however, this comes very naturally to me — a writer/ introvert. I’ve always considered myself very selfish with my time. I am a mother/ wife/ freelance writer and do a myriad of other things for church/PTA/ community, but I have learned to take care of me first. I can see how it makes me a much better mother/ wife/ freelance writer.

  • Karl Mealor

    This article came at a good time for me. I’m fairly exhausted after an unusually busy week of ministry. I’ve been feeling a little guilty about just “letting things go today”. Now, I think I’ll go take a nap!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Sometimes that is the best thing you can do—for everyone!

  • Gigi

    Thanks for this reminder. I type this as I lay with heat on my neck in a physical therapists office due to the effects of not prioritizing my own health. As a caregiver I often put others needs before mine. No more. I am a lousy caregiver wit a neck out of joint. 2011 is my year to focus on God and me…

  • http://blog.cyberquill.com Cyberquill

    Observing the proper sequence of priorities in the event of a change of cabin pressure, the flight attendant’s instructions should be to first to say a prayer, then to pull the mask down toward oneself, and then to assist others. In reality, though, the most important step is always being left out.

  • http://www.prokopetsstudio.com/blog Candace Prokopets

    This is something that I need to consistently remind myself of. Before recently, I never would have thought this were true. I would have thought that it was selfish to think this way. But I no longer agree and I see the value of living like this. Thanks for the reminder!

  • http://twitter.com/manyhatsmommyMI Jenny Herman

    This post is rather interesting to me because my husband has said to me before, “I need you to rest. You’re no good to me and the boys if you can’t move [because of back pain].” I think it is hard for us first-born, rule-following people-pleasers to put ourselves first!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      As a firstborn myself, I agree!

  • http://twitter.com/obihaive Joseph Sanchez

    Nobody can make any difference if they’re burnt out all the time running on fumes…However, Jesus did say the greatest command is to love God AND our neighbor. I believe the taking care of ourselves comes from the loving God part. Great post.

  • http://stevencribbs.com Steven Cribbs

    Thanks, Mike, for sharing your examples.

    I like to “say” that I have certain priorities in a certain order. However, when I look back on things, I see that it is easy for my priorities to get mixed up. And, often times, when I go through periods of highly-focused efforts on work, ministry and even family (to the exclusion of myself), I come crashing back down and then go overboard with time focused on just my own wants.

    So, I can totally support the need for a proper balance of continuing to grow in God, take care of (prepare) myself, and then let the overflow spill into the lives of others.

  • Mark Martin

    I think what’s important about what you posted is your purpose. If taking care of yourself in your book were totally self-serving, you would become a stagnant pond. But what you are talking about is like keeping a fountain clean so others can benefit from it.

    • TNeal

      This is an excellent metaphor reminiscent of Psalm 1. “That person is like a tree planted by streams of water…”

  • http://www.confessionsofalegalist.com Jeremy Statton

    Its difficult. Sometimes we convince ourselves that if the work we are doing is good, then we should just push on through fatigue and busy schedules. The work seems so important that we neglect other things, and then the work suffers.

  • Robynbavati

    Great post, but I think you should put yourself first, ahead of God. Obviously, God can take care of Himself. I mean, He’s God, right?

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Yes, He is indeed God. He doesn’t need me to take care of Him. But I need to be connected to Him. It’s like an electric motor. Unless it’s plugged in, not much happens.

  • http://www.thehahnhuntinglodge.com Nikole Hahn

    For the most part, I put myself second, but sometimes I slip down to third. Very good article. Lots of good wisdom there. I, too, have found it far better to get enough sleep and make sure that I eat “nutrtionally sound foods.”

  • http://AandBCounseling.com Don Ibbitson

    Great post. Jesus need to withdraw from the madding crowds and recharge. As a counselor, I see many in ministry who seem to believe (maybe subconsciously) that burning out for Jesus is a good thing. It is an affront to the Lord to put ministry before family and an important part of ministering to our families is that we be healthy in every way.

  • http://www.itsworthnoting.com Levi Smith

    Reminds me of some wise counsel I received back in college when I was wrongly focusing more on other people’s relationship with Christ more than I was my own. I wasn’t effective and needed to get my priorities in order and be more balanced.

  • Anonymous

    I’m a mom in ministry, but I have a recurring problem: I push myself too hard and then reap the physical consequences. Reading your post and the wisdom coming from many of the comments has enforced what God has been speaking to me recently. I haven’t always counted the cost (Luke 14:28) before starting a new ministry project. When my actions are out of balance in ministry it is the undoing of the “building of my house” (Prov. 14:1). I’m pushing up my spiritual sleeves to overcome this problem! Thank you for your post!
    The wise woman builds her house, But the foolish pulls it down with her hands. Prov. 14:1 NKJV

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I have never heard that verse from Proverbs quoted in this context. Wow. (Thanks also for quoting from the NKJV, my favorite translation.)

  • TNeal

    This is one of those “messages”–you know, the type where you hear the preacher and think “I know someone who should hear this”–that I’d love a friend to read. He suffers often from headaches and depression. His typical state in life ranges from simply tired to exhausted. In this case, it’s the preacher who needs to hear the message.

    Of course, after driving over a thousand miles out of Wisconsin snow into North Texas snow, sleeping in different beds, and changing my normal routine, I don’t miss the importance of self-care for me either.

  • Mary C.

    More than anything else, this is what I’m struggling with right now. But it’s a battle worth winning, because you’re right, I’m not helping anyone when I’m burnt out and struggling with health effects of putting myself last. I’m working with a personal coach and redrawing the boundaries, reframing the issues.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I’m glad to hear that you are working with a coach. That was huge for me. I really needed someone to give me permission to take care of myself. That got me over the hump.

  • Jimmy

    Thanks so much for posting this! So great to see you actually listen to your followers on twitter!!!!

    As always, I love your blog post!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Jimmy. I get some of my best ideas from people I interact with on Twitter.

  • http://www.speakingagent.com Speaking Agent

    I think it’s important to find a balance. I have lost myself before dedicating my life to the advancement of others (which is a great feeling, or at least can be). I woke up one day and thought: “what about me?” Consequently, I over corrected and grew to become selfish for a period of time, which ultimately felt and created horrible manifestations.

    In the end I think you have to remain aware of your dynamics and take care of yourself as you would another close friend or family member, and do the same for others you care about.

  • http://www.cdenning.com Chris Denning

    Initially, I had a knee jerk reaction of hesitation. I think this comes from my personal battle with pride. I’ve been trying to work on the whole “less of me” thing over the years. However, I don’t think that what you’re talking about interferes with humility.

    What you’re referring to has everything to do with good self management. You’re right, if you’re not well (spiritually, mentally, or physically), you’re no good to anyone anyways. Good word Michael, I dig where you’re going here.


  • http://www.culturesmithconsulting.com cherylsmith

    A few years ago I had to give a speech and was stuck trying to find an engaging topic. On the trip home, the flight attendant speech hit me:


    I posted my observations and book recommendations based on my speech.

  • http://twitter.com/ThatGuyKC K.C. Pro

    This is definitely a challenge for me. And an easy one to spot in other people. Sometimes I feel like I just don’t have time to take care of myself. However, I do get up early to workout 4-5 times a week and consider this high priority “me” time. No interruptions, no demands, just me and the weights.

    Thank you for the healthy perspective. I’m working on it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ralphyoder Ralph Yoder

    Michael – thanks for sharing and putting this into perspective. We get this so mixed up so many times – or at least I do. Your admonition and example is accepted and I am grateful.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ralphyoder Ralph Yoder

    Michael – thanks for sharing and putting this into perspective. We get this so mixed up so many times – or at least I do. Your admonition and example is accepted and I am grateful.

  • http://twitter.com/MrDavidWillis David Willis

    This post made me think of good advice I have read about how to handle money. Tithe comes first. Saving comes second. Then the rest of the bills get paid. If we don’t tithe, we rob God. If we don’t save, everything else will get spent and we end up with nothing. Thank you for sharing this post. I had thought of priorities in the same way, but it makes so much sense.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I never thought about money as an analogy, but your example is perfect. That is exactly my philosophy.

  • http://bladeronner.com Ron Dawson

    I see what you’re saying, and I would agree in general. But, it seems like it needs some disclaimers or something. Or some kind of ancillary to account for exceptions. You know, times when you as a servant leader you may put someone else before you. Times when you may need to sacrifice for a loved one. I can see situations where if you take the “Me second (after God)” approach to the Nth degree, you would not give your wife that back massage because your back aches too. You would never take your son out to the park after school because it’s been a long day (as it is every day) and you want to rest. And, heaven forbid, if you were ever in a situation where you had to risk your life, even unto death, to save your loved one (e.g. wife or child), I would guess you wouldn’t hesitate.

    So, while I agree with the overall premise, I think there’s room to make account for those kind of circumstances. “No greater love can a person show than laying down his life for a friend.”

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      But if I included all the exceptions, what would we talk about in the comments? ;-)

    • Vikki

      When God is truly first, He refines (purifies, orders, and establishes) the rest of the list.

  • Sjohnston

    Although I get out of balance at times, I try to prioritize myself similarly to what you described. It is easy to get off track due to the demands of life. One thing that helps me is applying a little diagram we use at our church which speaks to being rightly related. We should first be rightly related to God, then rightly related to self, followed by rightly related to family, church and world. It is shown as five concentric circles with the outer rings being directly affected by the inner rings. Failure to being rightly related to God affects all the other circles. Failure to be rightly related to self affects family, church and world relationships. It is based on application of the principles laid out in Matt. 22:37-39.

    Thanks for your insight!

  • http://twitter.com/mrmarkmcdonald Mark McDonald

    This is a tough questions. It comes at a time when I have been thinking a lot about myself. I have been thinking about how I can be a better father. I focused on my skills and what is in fatherhood for me. Yet when I think about it I need to be a better father for my kids, so that they are formed into good young men when they are older.
    So it is “both /and”. I need to look after myself so I am a good father and I need to serve and nurture my sons so that I am a good father.

  • Anonymous

    Until recently, I bought into the “J.O.Y.” mentality – Jesus, Others, You. However, I’ve realized over the past few months that I can’t give anything I don’t already possess myself. Whatever I give has to be from the overflow of my own life. Spiritually, I need to be drinking deeply of the well of the Word of God. Physically, like you mentioned, eating well, exercising, and getting enough rest are all areas I need to focus on in order to be my best possible self to give to others. Nobody wants my dregs!

  • Anonymous

    I find this very true as a single person. If I don’t put myself first and don’t look after me no one else does. I’ve noticed that often others will try and pressure singles to take on more commitments and responsibilities as if being single amazingly adds hours to someone’s day. But I’ve also noticed that single people can get run down more easily as they don’t have a spouse to tell them to slow down or to take over for a while so they can have a break or say no to others on their behalf. This is where Godly friends and family need to keep an eye on their single loved ones that they are not burning themselves out.

  • Judy

    certainly something to think on. Thankyou

  • http://www.brianhinkley.com Brian Hinkley

    Thanks for the post.

    I think once we secure our own mask; we need to remember to help those around us.

  • Martha

    OK, so it’s Sunday morning, it’s 10:30am, you’re deciding what to have for breakfast. The dog, who won’t pee in the small grassless garden, needs a walk to pee at least, and you want to go for a run. What do you do? There is only you to walk the dog as your wife has gone to Church where she is sidesperson.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      This is just me, but I would have been up at 5:00, reading, praying, and getting ready for the day. By 7:30, I would be available to tend to the needs of others, including the dog.

  • http://twitter.com/dominicrajesh Dominic Rajesh

    Very interesting perspective Michael – I enjoy reading your blog posts and this is the first time I am commenting on one of your posts. There are a lot of leaders and individuals who don’t bother to take care of themselves – this is really useful for all of them! Thank you for sharing this!

  • http://www.rowentree.com April Rowen

    “If I don’t make the effort to work through my own emotional wounds, I end up reacting to others instead of being in a position to minister to them. This is why I think counseling and therapy can be a valuable exercise for most people.”

    This is EXACTLY spot on – thank you!

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  • http://www.danieldecker.net Daniel Decker

    I’m good with God being first but I do need to do a better job of placing myself second instead of third or fourth. :)

  • http://coachradio.tv/ Justin Lukasavige

    Really great reminder. No way you can help someone unless you’re taking care of yourself.

    It reminds me of http://iamsecond.com.

  • http://twitter.com/mdmaurer MaDonna Maurer

    When first reading this huge neon signs were flashing “NO! NO! NO!” But, the blare of it died out with this, “think of it as preparation to serve others.” Reading your examples only made more sense. Not that I’ve mastered taking care of myself to the fullest, but I’m a work in progress. I want to serve others, especially the family..but need to do the simple things that will give me the energy to do them.

  • Amy Ward

    Coming out of triple negative breast cancer, I have had to rethink my list and I agree with yours. Thanks for sharing.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Nothing like a health crisis to reshuffle our priorities. It was a catalyst for me, too.

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  • Jeff Jones

    I agree wholly. I remember growing up and hearing that I was somewhere between 3rd and 99th. I have recently come to understand that I need to be second because the relationship between me and God will have the most profound impact on all my other relationships. If I’m right with him, working things out with everyone else will be much easier because 1st and 2nd are working together without interruptions.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Yep, it’s kind of like we are the conduit between God and the rest of our world. If that is clogged or not functioning properly, everyone else suffers.

  • http://www.convenientcalendar.com Address Book

    You reap what you sew, and if you are not sewing into yourself, (assuming you are good soil) than you will not reap much!

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  • Finding ME

    Finding ME!!!!

    Ive always but others before me even when I try very hard not 2… I was in 4yr relationship and put their needs b4 mines and I began to lie, cheat and steal in the relationship. I had to learn the hard way on why its so important to put me 1st…

  • http://TransmitHope.com Cynthia Leighton

     True. I struggle with this.

  • http://TransmitHope.com Cynthia Leighton

     Putting others first leads to being unable to take care of ourselves. Recently, so very many people have helped me. For example, one day a few weeks ago 17 friends helped me on the same day. Just because I asked. The love I still feel from that day and the others is wonderfully warming in my heart, way stronger than the pain of recovering from major surgery, among other things. God continues to hold me close, sharing the love of so many people with me. 

    You are not alone.

  • http://wewannado.com Ryan K

    Great points. There is a difference between trying to exalt yourself above others and preparing yourself to serve others. Your advice fits well in line with the latter and is very necessary to a well lived life.

    • chol cabral-caldito

      well said!

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  • Joan Urwin

    all of this is a new revelation to me after seeking help from my vicar at church yesterday for several demanding family problems (one of 10 years lasting) he mentioned the need to take care of myself I would like to know more

  • Sportsbun.com Website

    Don’t Take Too Good Care of Yourself – http://pudulifestyle.blogspot.com/2011/10/dont-take-too-good-care-of-yourself.html

  • Medryn Kilpatrick

    I know this is an old post, however, its still as good and relevant now as then so I’m not affraid to comment. Thank you for this, but I do have a problem with it.

    Your initial post left a bit lacking in understanding your true point and intentions but the comments more than made up for it and helped me understand your true intentions and overall meaning which I agree with.

    However, one thing I would like to point out is a very simple yet major change which this entire subject and your post/lesson would benefit from. For good reason, many people see their “self” as different things. Due to each individuals own interpretations and the many things to learn from scripture regarding ones “self” your statement about putting ones “self” first may come across in different contexts.

    I see my “self” as a part of me that I battle in my desire to abide by the word and grow spiritually and follow the Lord. My “self” is the part of me that wants what it wants, regardless of all else. Its the part that wants to watch TV when I should be serving, wants to go shopping and by myself things I don’t need when I should be putting that money into my family needs and the offering. The part of myself that wants to shovel junk food instead of maintaining a healthy diet. The part that is proud and boasts of my own status and prizes instead of being humble and sharing love and encouragment with others. “Self” can be viewed very badly in terms of putting myself first.

    I do understand though that your not talking about putting this version of “self” first but considering how many different ways people translate and filter what they read and learn the possibility to give the wrong impression is still there. I believe it would be better served to say to put your needs first, not your “self” first. Clearly, any servant has to have their needs met to be of any use to anyone. To be of use to our lord, our needs must be met to be alive and well and ready as a useful tool. Putting my needs first makes total sense, putting myself first is very vague and can easily be construed into wrong ideas.

    This way we can easily describe and understand what our needs are in order to follow our savior and serve others. The need to maintain your health. and the need to support your family and provide for those who rely on you for example. It all becomes much more self explanatory than putting “myself” first to each individuals own terms and extent.

    • chol cabral-caldito

      good point!

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  • Ken

    I don’t agree at all. This reminds of the stages of acceptance for dying. I know when I go I will not go through those stages and in this case I can say that I do next to nothing for myself and help the people in my close orbit allot and constantly, money emotional support etc. I am tired of having people tell me i need to take care of myself then launch into what they need. I am a 51 year old artist male.

  • RPR100

    This is all wrong except for the part about God being first. Things like family, friends, and others are supposed to go right after God and before self. The Bible makes it clear that we are to put ourselves low on the list. That doesn’t mean that it is wrong to take care of ourselves, but there are more important things than self.

  • http://www.facebook.com/greg.hurley.56 Greg Hurley

    Michael-I could not agree more. Kind of like the idea of taking oxygen on a plane before tending to a young child. How are we supposed to be the light of the world (Matthew 5:14) if we are not putting ourselves as a priority? It takes time with God and time of self reflection and having the Holy Spirit to work within us to make us into God would have us to be, and thus, what people would want who do not know Christ yet!

  • Tom Webb

    My ex gf says I put everyone before myself, after thinking this over I realize it is true. What do I do?

  • Pamela Davis

    I think I have been too far down my list, and now I am ill again. Time to put myself first, after God of course

  • Dorothy Carr

    I agree with your post. I continually tell myself that I must take care of me. I am almost on automatic to take care of everybody else. But, as I get older, I can see more clearly the need to take care of me first. Besides, if I don’t, there is no one else to do it.

  • Vikki

    This is such an important task. Growing up I “caught” that putting God first and putting others first were one and the same, and that somehow I wasn’t even supposed to show up in the equation. This caused all kinds of people-pleasing that I have had to overcome well into adulthood. I didn’t trust anything I decided until I got an “amen” from everyone with an opinion. When God has priority, having “prior-authority” in my life, I find that I show up quite prominently in the equation. I am encouraged to choose that good part (Luke 10:42): The part that benefits me, that is to my advantage and cannot be taken away.

  • chol cabral-caldito

    I have been following this principle of putting your needs first before others so you can better take care of them.. but I am struggling with the thought.. that Christ put us first, died for us to take care of us.. to ultimately save us.. How do we respond to His call of us dying to ourselves. (Matthew 16:24-25 “Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”)

    Need your thoughts on this..

  • Ajr1234

    I really have been indeed guilty of this matter. I always was confused spiritually about what God says about self help, which is why I impose the question. Thank you Lord for your true servant that had this information available. I know the bible deals with baring one another burdens and it also deals with not judging one another. It was then I began to ponder with myself how does this work if I myself is so tired, sensitive and often hurt by others reaction to my reaching out? When I read your response to the question I knew I was on the right track. I can serve with much discernment and Joy when I ask God to teach me how to take care of myself, yes self care so I am able to have a open honest and effective Ministry. When our needs get In the way we are completely defective to our intention to help. I really can not tell you how liberating this is in Christ Jesus. I felt such guilt and was so torn spiritually. How can I study the word and pray and draw close to God if I wont sit still so I can hear him? How can I reap a harvest if I do not break ground…yes that ground starts with me being accepted to the will of God. God Bless you.