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