The next couple of months are an endless buffet. From the pre-Thanksgiving feasts, Thanksgiving itself, and numerous Christmas and New Year’s parties can create a pathway to a new pants size. What we as pastors – particularly those from the denomination where the fried chicken is the unofficial motto – fail to realize is how much our physical healthy has a direct impact on the ability to lead well to God’s glory.
Paul in 1 Timothy 5:23 cues us in to a physical health issue. While we can only speculate on what precisely the issue was, we can be certain that if it was not addressed the ministry will suffer. Very quickly your physical health can diminish your emotional and spiritual well being as well as your leadership in the church. This verse several applications to think upon for a pastor’s health and leadership. Today we will examine three of those aspects.
- Be self-aware. Self-awareness is often confused with being self-absorbed. The two are not the same. Biblical self-awareness both recognizes that in Christ you have been given a new identity (Gal. 2:22) and out of this new identity, a new direction is set. Both Paul and Timothy were aware of the illness. In their awareness they took the action to diminish what was derailing a healthy and productive life because the Kingdom was at stake. Biblical self-awareness not only recognizes how the Lord has created you but also provides a framework to keeps in tune with spiritual, emotional and physical well being vital for God honoring living and ministry.
- Be fit. The only people who like the priority of being fit are fit people. Yet the truth is your physical fitness has a tremendous impact on the whole of your life and ministry. This is what Paul was seeing in Timothy’s life. One of the best step you can take to have a long and fruitful ministry is to practice good habits of personal health that include good food choices, cardiovascular exercise and strength training activities plus plenty of water intake. Your physician and numerous resources can prescribe what is the best step to take.
- Be intentional. This verse is a prescriptive command. “Take”, not stumble across or use if you happen to have some but rather intentionally take this step for your health. Nothing will happen in your life, your marriage, your family or the ministry of the church by accident. We must prayerfully ask the Father “what could be?”, “what should be?”, and then what steps must be taken to bring His vision for our lives and our church.
Stories continue to grow of pastor burnout, failure, and worse. Stress in the pastoral ministry can be high. We must each be aware of what is happening internally, be mindful of our health, and practice intentional steps every day to accomplish all that God has called us to. The glory of God is too great to ignore your own spiritual, emotional and physical well-being.