Put Your Oxygen Mask On First

Put Your Oxygen Mask On First

If you’ve flown on a commercial airline, you’re undoubtedly familiar with the safety announcement concerning oxygen masks. It goes something like this: “In the event of a loss of cabin pressure, secure your own oxygen mask before helping others.” We are also told that if the bag of the mask does not inflate, oxygen is still flowing to us. 

This is such a good reminder to prioritize our well-being so we can truly help others. In this season of the coronavirus, life has been interrupted with an emergency and it is vital we put on the “masks” that fill our well-being tanks in areas such as:: 

  • Prayer and meditation
  • Declaring promises
  • Reflection
  • Rest
  • Wisdom
  • Worship music
  • Journaling
  • Hobbies and fun
  • Encouraging podcasts and blogs
  • Catalytic relationships and fellowship
  • Testimonies

The Apostle Paul told the young leader Timothy, “Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you” (1 Timothy 4:16). I love to imagine myself on the receiving end of this apostolic exhortation: “Steve, make sure good things are flowing into your lifestyle and beliefs. As you do, salvation’s benefits will increase in you and through you.”

There have been times in my life where I have had a Messiah complex and thought it was my responsibility to meet every need of people around me. More care and attention were flowing out of me than I was receiving. My life was like an overdrawn bank account with insufficient funds to meet my own needs. While there are certain seasons when we have a supernatural grace to give beyond our own ability, making those seasons a lifestyle will lead to burnout and overwhelm. 

This is a time to clarify what it means to first put the oxygen mask on ourselves. The more we are able to identify the activities that result in good deposits into our spirit, soul, and body, the stronger we will be to help others. In this, self-awareness is one of the most potentially generous things we can learn.

Here is a partial list of how I am keeping my oxygen mask on now: 

  • Walking a certain amount of steps each day
  • Listening to inspiring podcasts and worship music
  • Praying in the Spirit and making declarations
  • Watching boxing matches to inspire my courage, resilience, and commitment to train
  • Writing every day

What is your plan? Who can help you follow through on it?

Finally, If the bag does not inflate, oxygen is still flowing.”  This statement creates faith that something is happening even if we don’t see it happening. Remember, there are three ways we can follow through on what we believe we are to do:

  1. Reluctantly
  2. Passively
  3. In faith

Something marvelous happens when we attach faith to what we choose. In this season of uncertainty, we declare victory by every simple action done in faith.  Victorious people understand it is impossible to sow positive seeds and there not to be a harvest, “Whatever a man sows, that he will also reap…he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart” (Galatians 6:7-9).

It is not selfish to prioritize your own well-being. Others will be glad you put on your “oxygen mask” first and that you believed good things were flowing into you as a result. Your lifestyle of sustained strength and joyful faith is a gift to others and positions you as a pillar in uncertain times. For more on developing strong “oxygen mask” habits in this season, listen to our podcast at the link below.

For more on topics like this, listen to my podcast by clicking the link below.


Steve Backlund was a senior pastor for seventeen years before joining the team at Bethel Church in Redding, CA in 2008. Steve is a leader developer, joy activist, a revivalist teacher, and as Senior Associate Director, is a key part of the Global Legacy (a ministry of Bethel Church) leadership team. He travels extensively throughout the world encouraging churches and leaders and has authored a number of books.

Go to Top