If you have ever boarded an airplane and prepared for the flight, you know that the stewards and stewardesses give the same exact safety lecture as the plane is being backed away from the terminal.
At one point, they say that if the cabin experiences a drastic decrease in pressure, oxygen masks will drop from the overhead bins. And that’s when they say something that I initially thought was horribly wrong. Morally wrong!
“If you are travelling with a child or someone who requires assistance, secure your mask on first, and then assist the other person.”
What!? Put my oxygen mask on before placing it on my child. Never!
But, then, as I thought about it, I realized that if I tried to put the mask on my toddler son first, I may pass out and then both of us would die. But, if I take care of myself first, then I am thoroughly equipped to give my full attention to the health and well-being of my son.
I have discovered that ministry is a lot like this. Too many of us ministers want to perpetually focus on the health and well-being of others. We give our personal phone numbers out to everyone. We say they can call us anytime. We pride ourselves in showing up to pray with them before surgeries. We show up at unrealistic times for counseling. Whenever anyone tells us of a need in the congregation, we drop what we’re doing and run to the rescue.
I’ve heard some pastors brag about how accessible they are. I’ve heard some of them state how many hours they work a week, caring for their congregation.
Essentially, they are telling me that they quickly put the oxygen masks on those in their church. Yet, they may never get around to putting their own mask on. They just don’t have the time to do it.
Since I’m in the ministry, I usually don’t get impressed with ministers who make such claims. Why? Because I have discovered that as pastors focus on others (and less on themselves and their family), that they usually end up sacrificing something on the altar of ministry. Maybe its their marriage. Maybe its their children. Maybe its their emotional or physical health.
The problem is that they are trying to put the mask on others without making sure that they have put their own mask on. It’s only a matter of time before bad things will happen.
Well, I have been feeling that my mental health and my relationship with Kim and Joseph were suffering because of the seemingly endless activities of ministry. I needed to put my own mask on so that I could continue to pastor others well.
So, today, we decided to make a trip to Cocoa Beach. I turned my phone on “Airplane Mode” and enjoyed my time with my family and my Lord while leaving ministry behind for awhile.
After all, Jesus often did this. Just read through the Gospels and observe how He periodically got away (sometimes by Himself and sometimes with His disciples).
Here are some pictures and videos from today. Essentially, these are pictures and videos of me putting my own oxygen mask on. In fact, I may start taking Fridays off so that I can take care of myself so that I can better take care of the people that Jesus has entrusted to me.
First of all, I went out for a 20 mile bike ride this morning.
After spending time at the beach, we played some putt-putt golf before Joseph and Kim held an alligator.
As we made our way home, the sun and clouds formed an incredibly beautiful picture. We just had to capture it as we prepared to end our day.
It feels good to have my oxygen mask securely in place. Tomorrow, I’ll get some church work done while trying to get a little more time of R&R in.
I believe that in doing so, I will be much better equipped to care for those that Jesus has entrusted to me.