Those who know me personally will find it ironic that I have a blog post on this topic. I have every size of clothing in storage containers in my garage in hopes that they will one day fit again. The lightest weight I have been in my adult life was in my freshman year of college in the low 180s. And that's all I'm going to say about that!
This is not a post to guilt anyone into a commitment to become more physically fit. The goal of this post is to offer some biblical insights on the topic to encourage us to make time to take care of both our church bodies and our physical bodies.
Personal Fitness as Stewardship
We would all agree that our bodies are given to us by God. We can destroy them; we can let them go. We can maintain them properly. Our genetics may be outside of our control, but much of our wellness is up to us to manage. We are indeed stewards of our bodies. The bottom line is that the better we take care of these bodies, the longer lives and healthier lives we will likely live - meaning, that we will have longer to minister to others, to win people for Christ, to disciple future leaders, and bear Kingdom fruit, if we get and stay in shape.
Pastoral Ministry as Enemy to Personal Fitness
Without going so far as to use this as an excuse, it is a fact that pastoral ministry is one of the most stressful professions a person can have. Most pastors do not work a 40-hour workweek. Some pastors work double that. Most work north of 60 hours per week. Not good! We eat on the run. We eat out a fair amount. We eat at weird hours. We don't have the time or money or go buy healthy foods. We don't get enough exercise; many of us don't get any exercise. Add to all of this the stress that ministry inevitably brings, and you have a recipe for morbid obesity and possibly a lifespan cut tragically short. Heart attack incidence is greater among pastors than in the general population. We've got our work cut out for us!
Take the Challenge!
I first started typing the draft of this post in August 2019. I've heard that getting in shape is tougher with every decade of life - the 20s, the 30s, the 40s. I'm at 37 right now, and I do have to work harder to get results than I did the past several times I've been down this road. As I prepare to post this blog, it is December 1, 2019. I've begun working out daily, eating smart, and doing all the things I know to do. I've lost 35 lbs, and my body fat % is dropping. I'm heading in the right direction, and you can too. Consult your doctor about nutritional advice and before beginning an exercise regimen. But as ministry brothers, let's covenant together to optimize the bodies the Lord has given us for maximum kingdom potential!
Get in touch if you are interested in taking the pastoral fitness challenge!
Pastor Billy Shaw is a full-time pastor, husband, and father with a passion for helping other pastors.