Main Topic: Physical Health for Ministers
[Author: Tim Lucas]
Ministers are notorious for neglecting their physical self. It is almost a common joke; the overweight preacher. But apparently it’s not just a stereotype. In 2002 according to Pulpit Pew Research 76% of ministers were overweight or obese.
The problem though is not simply a weight issue. Certainly there are some people who are overweight due to medical conditions outside of their control, but the real issue we are dealing with goes far beyond weight. We are talking about health. Are we valuing our health? If we really believe that we are not our own, how do we feel about standing before God and giving an answer for how we treated the body that he loaned us? We should be holy and honorable even in the way we treat our body.
Now I recognize some ministers are of the opinion that the body doesn’t matter, and the spirit is more important. While I recognize that the body is merely temporary, and the soul/spirit is eternal and of utmost value the truth is we are a three faceted being in which all three parts of our being are inseparably intertwined. Just as physical conditions, lack of sleep, improper diet, etc can lead to psychological problems; spiritual conditions can lead to health issues, unforgiveness has conclusively been linked with cancer; so can physical neglect impact our spirit.
But health is even more connected with the spiritual life for the preacher. Health problems can limit travel, lack of energy can definitely come across in preaching, and ultimately poor health leading to early death would definitely cut short the ministerial impact a man could make.
Ironically, as important as physical health is for a minister, it almost seems like ministers have it more difficult when it comes to taking care of themselves. Our culture of staying up late, eating at restaurants a lot, and eating late, all contribute to worsening health.
When it comes to nutrition it doesn’t need to be complicated. Follow just a few simple guidelines. Limit (or eliminate if you are highly committed) sugar and grain intake; Focus on healthy fats (natural things), like avocado, coconut oil, nuts, even butter (preferably grass fed, and no hormones); avoid synthetic foods like t.v. dinners, frozen dinners, etc; and eat lots of natural foods. That’s it. Don’t worry about counting calories, don’t over complicate things, just keep it simple.
Exercise also doesn’t need to be difficult, and doesn’t need to be miserable. I love running, and I think running is by far the best exercise for health. If you feel like running is beyond you, think again. As long as you are in basically decent health you can run. For new runners I highly recommend “Couch To 5k”, a program that will take you from not being able to run at all to running about 30 minutes in 9 weeks. You will be surprised how much easier it is then you probably think, and how quickly you progress.
If you are dead set against running that’s okay, just do something. I really recommend finding something that you love doing that also includes exercise. If you like nature, schedule regular hikes, or go on daily family walks. Make exercise fun…Find something that is fun and has exercise built in.
The key is make continuous small changes that when added together will get you where you want to go.
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