Each summer, our Wednesday night youth group sessions take on a very interesting form.  At the beginning of the summer, we give all students the opportunity to write down spiritual questions on small pieces of paper.  We put the pieces of paper in a bucket and draw them out at random throughout the summer.  With each question, the students get the first chance to provide answers and supporting scriptures.  Once they are finished, the adult leaders and youth pastor chime in.  We have some amazing discussions and I am always humbled by how much I learn from them.

Recently, we pulled out a question about whether or not we should try to please other people.  Many good points were made by all.  Some mentioned the fact that we should never compromise our faith for anybody.  Others mentioned that, if we love others as we are called to, we will be spending a great deal of time making people happy.  And the ultimate trump card was when somebody said that we should work on pleasing God, and then whether or not we please others will work itself out.

Ultimately, it was a very productive discussion.  The teenagers were very involved and they seemed to grasp the balance between doing “good” and making others happy.  But there was one analogy that our youth pastor gave that I felt was worth sharing specifically. 

Think about being on an airplane when something goes wrong.  The oxygen masks drop from the ceiling and the cabin is losing pressure.  Of course, the selfless thing to do is to help others secure their masks.  However, every flight begins with the instruction that you should put yours on first.  Why?  Because if you are not taken care of and in a good position to help others, then you will not do them any good.

That’s a fantastic lesson for life.  Yes, we should be selfless and want to help others.  We should be willing to sacrifice to meet their needs.  But if we are not healthy ourselves, particularly spiritually, we are not going to be of any real help to anybody.  We should not stretch ourselves too thin. 

Yes, we should try to please others by serving them and showing Christ's love, but we need to put our relationships with God first and that sometimes means saying, “no” to things.  That sometimes means turning down ministry opportunities or skipping church events.  That may mean letting people down or hurting their feelings.

I know that sounds bad, but just think how more effective you can be if you are not running on fumes.  Try to picture how passionate you can be about God’s word when you actually have time to prepare your lesson.  What would it be like if we were all able to focus on our callings and utilize our spiritual gifts as they were designed?  Revival, that’s what. 

If you feel run down and out of steam, do yourself a favor and tell somebody, “no” this week.  Tell them a bald blogger said it is okay.  I’m sure they’ll accept that.

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