Leaving on vacation recently, I boarded a flight with my wife and heard the safety announcements. I travel a lot so honestly, I rarely listen to the flight attendants with their memorized warnings. Seriously, do we need to be told how to buckle a seatbelt?
However, this time, the announcement about the loss of cabin pressure hit me differently. “If cabin pressure drops and oxygen is needed, a mask will drop from the overhead compartment.” It continues, “if you are traveling with someone needing assistance, put your mask on first, before assisting the other person”.
A lot of ministry self-care advice can be unpacked in that simple communication. With this in mind, here are 4 ways to uplift others and uplift yourself too:
- Establish your foundation. In ministry, there are countless needs and demands. But like the flight announcement, you must have the ability to place your “mask” on first, before helping others. It’s difficult to uplift others unless you have a healthy foundation. Our vacation we were traveling to included a nature walk with a muddy path. When I started slipping, I reached for my wife’s hand. If she wasn’t on a firm foundation, she’d be of no benefit. We would’ve ended up tumbling to the ground. To help others, be sure you’re healthy spiritually, mentally, and physically. If you aren’t there yet, consider taking a vacation, seeking counseling, or taking time for yourself. Before you help others!
- Understand how to love. I think most have read “The 5 Love Languages” written by my good friend, Dr. Gary Chapman. This bestseller points out that there’s wasted effort trying to love in a manner that’s not received as love. What great advice! In the same way, uplifting others well requires knowing how the help will be received. Assess who needs help and ask what they want. Then assist them through the filter of their perception, using their language to reinforce what you’re offering.
- Set personal boundaries. The crucial self-care rule requires knowing what you’re able to do and not over-extending yourself. You can place the mask on someone who needs oxygen but you probably can’t fly the plane. Most stress and unhealthy mental anguish occur when we push our expertise and limits. Or when we end up doing too much of what we once loved. Therefore, establish time limits or take a good vacation to recharge. And remember, ministry empowers reliance on God for their every need, not reliance on you in an unhealthy manner. If you feel stretched beyond your expertise? Seek others to help. Often establishing a helpful community does more uplifting in the long run!
- Have accountability. Speaking of establishing community, YOU need it too. Community around you to help, caution, and assist you with your “mask” when you aren’t even aware you need help. Who should that be? People who love and want the best for you. And understand ministry’s complexity but they practice healthy self-care too. Be sure they have the ability to lovingly correct and realign you when you’re doing something wrong. Everyone in ministry needs accountability. If you’re struggling to find a friend? Be that friend to others as a role model; then disciple someone into the role.