We’ve all been on an airplane when the flight attendant gives instructions about what to do in case the plane crashes/lands in the ocean/catches on fire, etc. I’m not particularly fond of flying anyway, so I like to tune this part out. On my first airplane ride my sophomore year of college, I almost went into a panic attack when I saw all the smoke outside the plane window…just to find out we were in the middle of clouds. But when the flight attendant gives those instructions, one thing she/he always says is to first put the oxygen mask on yourself, and THEN you are able to help your children and other people. Likewise, in the middle of this series on leadership, we must first learn to take care of ourselves, or lead ourselves, before we attempt to lead other people. What does it look like to lead yourself? There are a lot of different things that could fall into this, but I divided it up into three categories:
This is obviously the most important one. Are you able to lead your own spiritual life without someone else probing you or dragging you along? You should have the desire and discipline to spend time alone with God in His Word EVERY single day, asking Him to teach you more about Him. You should also be involved in church, serving, giving, and connected to a community of believers where you know others and you are known. When you grow in spiritual maturity, your sensitivity and conviction of sin will also grow, leading you to confess and repent of the sin in your life. Also, seek out a discipleship relationship with someone that is a step or two ahead of you, and learn from them, and also look to disciple someone a step or two behind you.
Very practically speaking, leading yourself requires you to be able to take care of your own life. If you are 26 and still living with your parents and only working 12 hours a week, it might be time to think about finding a big boy job, moving out, and learning to pay bills on your own. Also, this means not funding this newfound life through a credit card. Learning to manage your household, even if you are the only one in your household, is very important; having a budget, paying off and staying out of debt, and creating some cash flow. Also, leading yourself requires good lifestyle habits. Refuse the urge to eat pizza and watch Netflix every night. Develop and maintain good habits in your diet, and it probably wouldn’t kill you to go to the gym once or twice a week.
The way a young adult manages the relationships in their lives says a lot about their ability to lead themselves and other people. If you are married, be very proactive in protecting your marriage. Create healthy boundaries in your opposite sex relationships; never hang out alone with the opposite sex, spend excessive time texting them, venting about your spouse, etc. The same goes for single people. Focus on developing friendships with people of the same sex. I don’t care what you say, I am 100% convinced that a guy and girl can never be “best friends.” It never works and it never ends well, so just stay away from that. Focus your energy on creating good, healthy same sex friendships where you read the Bible together, hold each other accountable, and have people who are able to speak into your life.
Ultimately, we are only able to lead ourselves when we allow Jesus to lead our lives. He is the one who gives us direction, purpose, passion, wisdom, and guidance. Look to Him to be the filler and sustainer of your needs; I promise He will never let you down! The more intentionally you follow Jesus, the more able you will be to lead yourself and lead others.