1 Timothy 4:16 (NKJV)
When you are on an airplane they will go over the safety procedures to make sure everyone knows what to do if there should be an emergency. One of the things they talk about is the air mask that will drop down from above you if there should be a sudden drop in the pressure of the airplane cabin. But, when they talk about the air mask, the flight crew will always tell you to put your own mask on first before trying to help someone else. The reason for this is simple, if you are unable to breathe properly you will not be able to help someone else, so you first have to put on your own air mask before you can really help someone else.
The Apostle Paul wrote two letters to Timothy, who was a young minister. Paul gave Timothy advice on ways that Timothy could be successful in ministry and Paul also reminded Timothy that Paul himself gave Timothy a good example to follow. One very important thing that Paul told Timothy was to pay attention to himself and the right kind of teaching. Paul said that if Timothy did this then Timothy would not only save himself, but he would also save those who heard him. If Timothy had focused on trying to help others first he would not have been as successful as he could have or should have been.
If you take care of yourself and what you know and believe first, then you can help others. But, if you don't take care of yourself and the things you know and believe, then you will not only have problems yourself, but you will not be able to help others. Paul encouraged Timothy to continue with and stay in this pattern because it is the way to really make a difference in the lives of others. If someone has problems in their own life and does not really know what the Bible says then that person is not going to be very effective in helping others. Just like Paul told Timothy, we all need to first take care of ourselves and know the truth so we can help others.