SHAPE Notes: Personal Health Essay

The pastor recognizes the importance of personal physical and emotional health to an experience of holistic personal health and wellness.

Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well. —3 John 2 NIV

In writing to his friend Gaius, John reminds us of the reality that our physical emotional health is important to our personal health and ministry effectiveness. The Bible is rich with teachings and metaphors regarding the health of body as well as soul. Yet the truth facing us today is that many pastors struggle to maintain a proper care of self—body and emotions—amid the pressures of life and ministry. A sense of divine urgency for the task, unrealistic demands placed upon the pastor (either from without or within), the fast-paced nature of our culture with its technical advances, and many other factors tend to draw us away from the fact that our own personal health contributes significantly to the effectiveness of our ministry and our intimacy with God. Statistics among pastors in regard to heart disease, high blood pressure, stress-related illnesses, depression, obesity, burnout, divorce, and poor emotional health are staggering. Life expectancy has fallen among clergy.

Tom Hopkins writes, “To be deemed healthy a person must display balance in the areas of mind, body and spirit. We know that a successful life is comprised of finding balance physically, emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually.”1

Balance. That is a greater challenge than most of us are willing to admit. What must be considered in developing a balanced approach to life?

  • A healthy work ethic. Work is an integral part of life. Yet we must realize that such labor is just part of life, not the defining factor of life.
  • Rest and recreation. Work must be properly balanced with rest and recreation. Adequate sleep and activity apart from the demands of our work life must be a priority.
  • Exercise. At least twenty to thirty minutes of cardiovascular exercise four to five times each week is recommended.
  • Proper nutrition. Our hectic pace of living can rob us of taking time to eat a proper diet of healthy foods.
  • Boundaries. We must establish proper and clear boundaries in life.
  •  Journeying with others in life. Family, friends, mentors, accountability partners in a supportive, encouraging community contribute meaningfully to personal health.  
  • Relationship with God. We need to maintain a healthy relationship with God through prayer, Bible study, meditation, and worship.

The experience of Sustaining Health and Pastoral Excellence must include a sensitivity to the importance of personal health and wellness as it seeks to minister effectively to Church of God pastors and leaders. Do not neglect the care of your body while you minister to the needs of others.

 

1Tom
Hopkins, Fit Forever (Tulsa, OK:
Total Publishing and Media, 2009).

 

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