“The emphasis upon inner development, when fully considered, turns out to be the most unselfish of enterprises, because, as we live for one another, the best we can give is ourselves. A man has made a step toward a genuine maturity when he realizes that, though he ought to perform kind and just acts, the greatest gift he can provide others consists in being a radiant and encouraging person. What we are is more significant, in the long run, than what we do. It is impossible for a man to give what he does not have.” (Elton Trueblood. The New Man for Our Time. New York: Harper & Row, Publishers, 1970, p. 79.)
In our activist, hurried North American culture, it can feel selfish to give time to the development of our inner life. There are so many needs. There is so much to be done. I wonder if this counsel might not be a spiritual formation version of what I hear at the beginning of every airline flight.
In the event of a sudden loss of cabin pressure, oxygen masks will drop from the ceiling. If you have a small child travelling with you, secure your mask before assisting with theirs.
In ministry, I must be sure that I am caring for myself so that I am able to serve from overflow rather than out of leakage. I’m not much good to others if my cup is empty.
If I am sharing the life of Christ formed in and filling me, then attention given to remaining in a deep abiding relationship with Him is a strategic leadership effort on my part.