In our four-part series on becoming a healthier church leader, we’re looking at four quadrants that can help us ascertain our overall health. Now that we’ve discussed spiritual health (an important issue for a pastor, right?), let’s talk about something that can be a much more challenging issue for church leaders: physical health.
In our free ebook, I reference “Taking a Break From the Lord’s Work,” a 2010 New York Times article that bemoans the fact that “Members of the clergy now suffer from obesity, hypertension and depression at rates higher than most Americans.”
In many ways, it’s telling us what we already know. For many of us, just a glance in the mirror every morning tells us what we already know. We need to seek physical health.
The Weighting is the Hardest Part
I don’t say this as an uninterested party. Years ago, I was forty-five pounds overweight. (A pizza and Blue Bell ice cream diet will do that to you.) But even though I was upset with the ever-enlarging man I saw in the mirror for his physical appearance, that image alone didn’t motivate me to change.
At the core of my flabby being, I knew that my physical health was taking a noticeable toll on every other area of my life. My ministry work was suffering. My stamina to keep up with the youth I was working with was non-existent.
My mind felt sluggish.
My parenting lagged.
My marriage was on autopilot.
It’s not that I looked terrible; I felt terrible for most of my days, and this had a direct and immediate impact on every area of health in my life.
Eventually, I met with a Christian counselor for help with all of these issues. In our first meeting, he asked me about my dietary habits, then said he’d see me in a month once I’d gotten those issues under control. His parting words to me at that first meeting confirmed my suspicions about the dire importance to keep your physical health in check:
“Study after study has shown that how you feel emotionally is directly related to your physical health. Your endorphins, confidence, belief system, self-control . . . they’re all integrated. As a Christian counselor, I don’t start working with people until I know they’re in a place of physical health.”
Church leader: if your physical health is poor—or even just not where you want it to be—I heartily encourage you to seek help.
Set a time to work out with a friend or coworker.
Be accountable to your spouse.
Seek counsel or the help of a dietician.
Find a routine that works for you.
Shed those extra pounds.
And say no to pizza and Blue Bell (unless it’s a special occasion).
You’ll be amazed at how much better physical health will buoy every other aspect of your life and ministry.