Some time ago a pastor asked me some questions relating to passion and making a difference in this world. It invigorated me when he asked the following: “What drives you to do what you do? What is your “inward discontent” that keeps you up at night? Better yet, what are you doing every day to make a difference in that area?”
Well, here is my “inward discontent:” The sobering fact is that the majority of Americans are at a great health risk because they are overweight (dangerously so). That troubles me for sure. But what keeps me even more troubled is that Christians, and in particular pastors, have higher obesity rates and poorer health than the average American.
Studies say that the average pastor’s health is significantly worse than others on the planet. At a recent annual leadership meeting of ministers in a mainline denomination free health screenings were administered. Of those screened more than 73 percent were found to be overweight or obese. If you are keeping track, that is a much higher percentage than those outside the church. On average, a pastor’s health risk is more than a 10% higher than the average person.
What really pains me is that I have had to help bury way too many of my colleagues who died an early death due to not taking care of themselves and poor health habits. The tragedy? Most of these were 100 per cent preventable.
There is something wrong about that. So I know that I have to take my share of responsibility for setting the right example. I need to show people that God can help us in every aspect of life, including our health. If I refuse to take care of my body, I set a poor example as a leader of God’s church.
As pastors and leaders this means that you have a responsibility to help train your family and your church to take care of their bodies. Let’s be a good example!
“Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.” 1 Peter 5:2-4
You can be an example that food is given to us by God to be enjoyed–not to be abused. As Christians we can’t be telling people on one hand that we are all about the glory of God, and then kill ourselves with the food we are stuffing in our body.
Maybe it would be a good idea to re-think our prayers before our meals asking for God’s wisdom and discipline to manage what we eat, as opposed to just blessing what we are about to eat. In our gratefulness we should thank God for providing the food and then remind ourselves to enjoy our food, not to worship it.
Bottom line is we need to take care of ourselves! According to Leadership Journal, a pastor works on average 55-60 hours a week and is so busy taking care of everyone else’s needs that they often neglect their own, especially their health. Nationwide, an estimated 1,500 pastors leave their assignments each month because of poor health and ministry-related stress.
Chances are very high that your effectiveness in ministry will be limited if you are unhealthy and overweight. You will not be able to maximize your ability to shepherd, study, teach, preach and care as you should.
This is the way that I see it: If you are a minister then you are leader. That means God daily gives you the opportunity to set the example that God cares about every aspect of our life, including and especially our health. Not only that, you have an incredible opportunity to show your people the way to balance mind, body and spirit in a healthy way. With God’s help you can do it!
“ I can do all this through Him who gives me strength.” Ephesians 6:10 NIV
Back to the first part of this blog that asked, “What is your “inward discontent and what are you doing every day to make a difference in that area?” My goal is to partner with pastors to give them the tools and resources to take care of themselves, their families, and their churches. I am committed to do what I can to help turn the tide. I have lost too many friends to heart attacks, high blood pressure and diabetes. Through this healthy FIT FOREVER blog, my workshops, and a new book called “FIT (Not Fat) FOREVER” coming out I am determined to make a difference to help as many people as I can. Feel free to “Follow” this blog for up to date blogs and daily motivations.
The time has come to commit ourselves to taking care of this body that God has given us. We must remember that we will only receive one body in the span of our life, and it’s up to us to do all that we can to take care of it. Here are some healthy tips to get us started: http://wp.me/pGpee-2W