Physical Fitness and Ministry Part I
Once I found out that my wife, Michele, was pregnant, I started thinking much more seriously about my fitness. I wanted to make sure I was around for as long as I can for our son. I also wanted to be able to make the most of the time I had with him. Most importantly to me, I wanted him to think his dad is Superman! (I’m still working on that one) That started me seriously trying to get in shape. I had tried it before and never stuck with it. However, with a kid on the way, it felt more important than ever.
Fast forward to today, I am in better shape than I have ever been. I exercise at least four days a week and feel great. However, I don’t want to brag about how excellent I feel (not today, anyway). Today, I want to look at two things that we do not typically think about as going together. Physical fitness and ministry. Even though your ministry can have an effect on your fitness (being sedentary, focusing your time on ministry and not fitness, etc.) I want to focus on the effect your level of physical fitness can have on your ministry. Even though my goal in getting in shape was not ministry related, it has helped me take my ministry to the next level.
Even though my goal in getting in shape was not ministry related, it has helped me take my ministry to the next level.
First, however, I want to define “fitness.” I do not mean looking like a young Arnold Schwarzenegger or be able to run a marathon. It also doesn’t mean you have to eat like a cave man your abstain from gluten. Fitness is simply living a healthier life than you were. It includes being more active and eating healthier than you did.
How can being fit have an influence on our ministry? I believe there are a few ways.
It honors God when you honor your body. Everyone loves 1 Timothy 4:8, “For bodily exercise profiteth little.” However, the Bible also says “A wise man [is] strong; yea, a man of knowledge increaseth strength” (Proverbs 24:5) and that “your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost” (1 Corinthians 6:19). Although bodily exercise profiteth little (contextually, compared to spiritual exercise), the Bible does tell us that there is profit in it. Just as 1 Corinthians tells us harming our body dishonors the temple of the Holy Spirit, I believe helping the body honors that temple.
Longevity. I love the quote that is attributed to Chief Tecumseh, “Seek to make your life long and Its purpose in the service of your people.” For me, I want that long life spent in service to my God. Being healthy can extend our relatively short life and give us just a little more time here. The longer you are here, the more opportunities you have to reach people. We all will die eventually, but I intend to hang around as long as I can and let as many people as possible know about the saving power of Jesus Christ.
We all will die eventually, but I intend to hang around as long as I can and let as many people as possible know about the saving power of Jesus Christ.
Quality of Service. We all have know or at least know of people who were not able to preach or serve like they wish due to health problems. I want to make the most I can of any opportunity, regardless of my age. You cannot prevent everything from happening, but you can stack the deck in your favor and prepare yourself to continue ministering for decades into the future. When I was younger, I worked with a pastor who was well into his 60’s. Despite being over 40 years my senior, he could easily work circles around me. I want to be like that!
Confidence. This is the benefit that has been most notable to me in the short term. The better shape I get into, the more confident I become. The more confident I become, the better leader and communicator I become. Lack of confidence, saps our ability to do the work God has given us.
Those are some pretty good reasons to get under the bar, put your feet to pavement, or whatever other exercise metaphor you prefer. I want to end this week with a few quick lies people believe about why they cannot get in shape.
I don’t have time. What would you say to someone in your church who told you that about time studying God’s Word? Make time. It’s not that you don’t have time, it’s just not a priority.
It’s my genetics. Also in this group is “I’m just big boned” or “I have a slow metabolism.” Genetics play a role in your fitness, but hard work trumps genetics every time. If you believe this about yourself, try to get in shape for just six months. I promise you will see changes you did not think were possible.
I have a medical condition. A medical condition can hold you back. However, even if you cannot do complete exercises, there are simple things you can do, even with a medical condition. Eat less calories, go for a walk. The goal is not to look like a Greek statue; it is to be healthier than you were yesterday. Of course, be careful and talk to your doctor if necessary, but everyone can do something.
I failed before… why bother? When my son was learning to walk, he fell. A LOT. I never saw him give up on walking. (although he tries to crawl around when he is being lazy.) Just because you didn’t stick with it before doesn’t mean you won’t now. Try something different this time. I failed to follow through with jogging and weightlifting many times before I finally made it stick.
I believe this is important to serve God the best we can. Decide today that your fitness is important to you and that you want to be better than you are today. in the next post, we will look at the “how” of getting in shape!
What reason can you think or to prioritize fitness? What other excuses do people buy into?