The starving baker: serving others effectively by equipping yourself first

Column 11.2.18
November 2, 2018
Delegates return from Columbia after student legislature
November 2, 2018

The starving baker: serving others effectively by equipping yourself first

Imagine that a baker moves into town and opens a bread-and-bagel shop. A couple of weeks after the shop’s grand opening, you decide to check it out since you keep hearing amazing reviews from your friends.

You walk into the busy bakery. While you wait in line to buy a chocolate chip bagel, you observe the shop with its products—hundreds upon hundreds of breads, muffins, bagels, rolls and doughnuts.

Your eyes fall on the owner, who is busy filling orders and fetching loaves from the ovens. He does everything himself. He makes the dough, puts it in the oven, takes it out and sells it to his customers.

However, you notice that the baker is thin—dangerously thin. Even though he’s busy supplying members of the town with good food, he’s clearly not eating enough himself.

This is the story of the starving baker. Tim Elmore, president and founder of Growing Leaders, a non-profit organization dedicated to preparing young adults for leadership, uses this story to demonstrate the importance of balanced priorities.

“This is a common hazard for leaders,” he said. “We’re like the baker who spends so much time baking bread for others. We forget to eat ourselves. Leaders must feed themselves for personal growth.”

Maybe you’re one of many starving bakers on campus. Many of us spend our days going to class, singing in a choir, leading society meetings, ministering to peers in the residence halls, helping a friend study for a test, taking another friend to Walmart or working a job on or off campus.

We’re students—busy ones. And, for many of us, that means sometimes we don’t get to start our own homework until 11 p.m. Sometimes we forget to eat because we’re simply too busy with other responsibilities. Maybe we’re too busy serving others to take care of ourselves.

It’s no secret that BJU is serious about leadership. As our tagline states, we’re committed to a lifelong pursuit of learning, loving and leading.

And while we must model Christ’s example of servant leadership, it’s also important to take care of ourselves so that we may serve others, and ultimately Christ, most effectively. It’s that “put your oxygen mask on first” idea.

Don’t starve yourself of basic needs—rest, friendship, nourishment, a simple change of pace. And, above all, prioritize your relationship with your Creator, the One who gave you the opportunities to serve in the first place.

Matthew 11:28 says, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Truly, Christ is our Source of energy, and He enables us to serve others.

Therefore, let’s be well-fed bakers. Let’s be students known for running to our Father in this season of busyness. Let’s depend fully on Him for strength, trusting Him to equip us with the energy to serve others for His glory.