The word “shalom” means “peace”, “wholeness”. The interesting thing is it’s always used in the context of the spiritual life…well what about the physical?
Rise up Charlotte Pastors, A revival is coming!
A phrase I hear a lot here around my church is “the best gift you can give your kids, is your marriage”. Well, I will build onto that that the best gift you can give your family is your health. “Your health is not all about you.” Especially if you’re in a leadership position like yourselves. There’s a lot of people counting on you day in day out. Are you Faithful In Training so you can be FIT for the Mission? Because the call will require your all.
In a leadership role, your presence and performance is paramount. So your health and well-being needs to be too. In such a position, your absence in ministry creates not just a ripple effect but a tidal wave of people that impacts. From your spouse to your kids to grandkids to external family, friends, coworkers, congregation, ministry partners, your city, and so on. And let’s face it, you’re in the Kingdom building business so that impacts God too. What if you’re too sick to live out the plans He has for you because of the poor choices you’re consistently making over time? Five hundred years ago, the Reformation happened because of small but consistent decisions made over the course of time. Basically, at one point we looked up, realizing how far off course we had gotten and said ‘woah, how’d we get here, let’s get back on track’. Health is very much the same in that respect. We often wait too long to make changes and then need a revival (sometimes literally). We make small poor decisions day after day, being permissive with nutrition and fitness and wellness. Over time, those add up and we look up to say “woah, how’d I get here”?
Statistically shown, Christians in general are actually in poorer health than non-Christians. The career of a Christian leader is one of the highest risk for poor health.
- 75% of pastors are “extremely stressed”.
- 35% of pastors are battling depression.
- The pastoral profession has one of the top 3 suicide rates of any profession.
- Only 1 out of every 10 will make it to retirement.
- 40% of UMC clergy in North Carolina are obese—a figure 11% higher than for the general population of North Carolinians and 14% higher than for the national population.
- Over 50% of pastors are unhealthy, overweight, and do not exercise.
Pastors are in a tough position. The role is a sedentary one….often built around food…and it’s often high stress with ‘alota’ hours. The reality is, the odds are not in their favor…clearly as we see above. A great mentor once asked me when we were opening our first gym, “Most businesses fail within 5 years….what makes you so special?” I’d ask something similar here of Pastors. What makes you so special that you won’t fall into these statistics? Are you taking preventative measures? Are they quality?
Additionally, there’s a spiritual aspect to look at for Pastor’s health. Have you ever asked someone to specifically pray for or your temple? Perhaps someone that is praying for you in your role of ministry? As Christian’s, we’re heavy targets for the enemy as you know. And what’s the main thing that will prevent you from being in that chair Monday morning? YOU! Traffic, a lost phone, even a death in the family, will still allow you show up in that seat. So wouldn’t it make sense for him to go after the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit, your temple itself to block your ability to thrive in ministry?
When you feel better, you ARE better.
14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
Let’s face it, being a light takes energy; capacity. Evangelizing; discipling can be physically, mentally, spiritually, emotionally draining. But if we steward our temples well to withstand the demands of the calling, our light has an opportunity to not just shine but shine bright. It’s the difference between a Walmart flashlight and a hunting flashlight. Our health frees us up to serve more and better.
The reality though, is that this all builds over time right, right?
What you do in your 30’s defines what your 40’s will look like, what you do in your 40’s set you up for your 50’s, and your 50’s for your 60’s and beyond. How do you wanna spend your retirement? It’s interesting that we start in our 20’s putting away in those 401K’s for retirement. Well, how do you wanna spend that money? On traveling with your spouse and playing with your grandkids or on hospital visits?
So, what’s the problem?
For fitness, it’s often a discipline issue. Taking the time away from the daily grind to grind out a good workout. For wellness, like sleep and rest, it’s often again making the choice to follow God’s command. Just because you’re a pastor; a leader doesn’t make you exempt from God’s commands. Steward your temple well. Rest.
For nutrition, for many, it’s finding that fine line. What’s permissible vs. beneficial? What’s gluttony vs. celebrating.
1 Corinthians 6:12“Everything is permissible for me”—but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible for me”—but I will not be mastered by anything.
There’s a spiritual and a physical piece to that. From a physical standpoint, we look at that as, what I’m putting in my mouth – is that helping my body, is that medicine for my body? From a spiritual, I think we have to look into the ‘why’ behind it. Am I doing this because it’s truly a special occasion like my husband’s birthday or am I lacking trust in God and turning somewhere else – food – to fix the situation, because that’s what sin really boils down to at its core. Are we praying about our health and inviting the holy spirit in to come play a part in our battle with choices?
The 2 Greatest Commandments
Why do you think He said ‘with all these different things’, not just love the ‘Lord your God’. Or perhaps, link that part to the second commandment?
By loving others we’re loving God. The last thing Jesus said was “now go make disciples”. Command number one gives you a more and better commandment number two. Because He knows that “The Call” #2, love your neighbor, will require your all, #1. If you can abide with your all, the call will be much easier. You’re going to need those things to be successful on the battlefield.
What does it look like to love God with all your heart, mind, soul, strength?
An easy way to answer this is to say that Jesus is clearly meaning that we love God with everything that we are. Both the heart and soul especially have to do with the very centre of our lives as human beings – they are where our life springs from, and therefore there should not be an area of our lives that isn’t touched by this command. We are to commit everything to God, and bring everything under His control, giving ourselves to Him entirely for the rest of our lives.
Loving with All Our Heart
While surprising to some, the old covenant recognized that a spiritual relationship with God begins from within, with a proper disposition toward the preeminent Savior, sovereign, and satisfier. From the heart “flow the springs of life” (Proverbs 4:23), and without one’s will, desires, passions, affections, perceptions, and thoughts rightly aligned, the life of love is impossible.
Loving with All Our Mind
The brain itself (where the mind is housed) is a rather peculiar thing. For one, it consumes about 20% of all the oxygen you take into your body. It also is the fattest organ in your body comprising of over 75% fat. In addition, there are about 100,000 miles of blood vessels in the average human brain. Oh yea, the brain also has no pain receptors so it doesn’t actually feel pain. More sleep=better opportunity to create new memories. Pretty cool.
Differing from the soul, the mind facilitates cognitive complex’s such as consciousness, reasoning, perception, and judgment. These areas change over time and are effected by our life experiences, education, and our daily interactions with others (modern science studies have stated that these abilities are exclusive to human beings). Did you know that you think an average of 70,000 thoughts per day? Both small and grand, these thoughts are influenced directly and indirectly by the things we encounter. In-fact, music resonates with us so well because it draws us to subconscious links in our memory, which in turn can sway our emotions and mood.
So what does all this have to do with loving God with all of your mind? Well, essentially, our daily experience is constructed by the things we immerse ourselves in physically AND mentally. If we occupy our mind with thoughts of stealing money, we will eventually act on those festering desires. The same, however, is true for positive things. Using a military occupation as metaphor, imagine the US putting 50,000 troops in the small country of Jamaica. With such a strong occupying force, the Jamaican citizens would have no choice by to abide by the rules and curfew set by the invaders. Likewise, if we immerse our thoughts with the Word of God, we will have no choice but to be transformed by truth.
Loving with All Our Soul
Our homes are powered by electricity (well most of them are anyway). If we were to bring in a brand new television to watch we first must take it out of the box and connect it to a power source. Without the power source all of our favorite shows and possibilities are impossible. We need to plug that television into the power in order for anything to happen, without it nothing works and nothing ever will.
Without first loving God with our EVERYTHING nothing else will work. Without first loving God with ALL of our heart, soul, mind and strength we are powerless. It is either all or nothing. God doesn’t want a partial kind of love. He isn’t some on again off again God, either get on board with Him and love Him completely or don’t at all.
Secondly, don’t try and fake out God…He’s not buying the act. Others might see how good we look dressed up for Church and how we act in front of other Christians but if this isn’t consisted behind the scenes God knows. This is a tough pill to swallow. I’m not here to say that I have this all figured out either, because I too struggle at times with a divided heart. Not intentionally mind you, but at times I catch myself and find that I have to once again realign my relationship and priorities with God.
Loving with All Our Might/Strength
The word translated “might/strength” in Deuteronomy 6:5 usually functions as the adverb “very” in the Old Testament. The noun version occurs in Deuteronomy and in only one other place, which itself is just an echo of our passage. In 2 Kings 23:25 we are told that King Josiah “turned to God with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his might.”
So if the word usually means “very,” what would it mean to love the Lord will all our “very-ness”? Interestingly, the Greek translation of this word is “power.” For the strength of a person is not simply who he is, but what he has at his disposal. Think with me: If Moses’s call to love God starts with our heart and then moves out to our being, could not our “very-ness” be one step bigger and include all our resources (Deuteronomy, 183–84)? Or perhaps our time, talent, treasures?
This means that the call to love God is not only with our physical muscle, but with everything we have available for honoring God .
BUT, to execute with all our “very-ness” we need our body, our temple. We can’t serve others without our temple being engaged in some way shape or form. Let’s use Jesus for the perfect example. He led a life of service, period:
- washed the feet
- opened the eyes of the blind
- cleansed the lepers
- walked with the people
- traveled city to city
- spoke to millions
- suffered and endured the cross
The common theme here is that all of these items begin with a verb, an action word, which Jesus needed his temple in good condition to complete the task.
Let’s let our physical life be a testimony to the love of God, leveraging our strength for God’s glory. Stress on the body builds strength in multiple ways – physically and spiritually. I think God allows us stress to a degree to build strength and in return we serve with that strength.
God provides strength so we can operate. But we have to hold up our end of the deal too. He created our bodies to be able to build the strength we need to complete the task. He designed our bodies in a way to feel bad after a cheat meal and good after a run.
Are you using your body to honor God or love yourself?
Our ministry partner, Dale Fletcher of Faith and Health Connection teaches that physical wellness starts with spiritual wellness. It starts with:
Change starts with awareness – Are we fully aware of:
- Significant stressors that are not being effectively managed.
- Spiritual risk factors that are impacting adversely on your behaviors and health.
- Unhealthy lifestyle choices that contribute to poor condition of God’s temple.
We want to adopt, or more fully embrace, key biblical principles that may reduce relevant spiritual and physical risk factors.
Change propels forward with a why.
- ‘Why’s’ motivated to change unhealthy behaviors.
We want to be motivated to address significant personal and organizational stressors and develop strategies to reduce them or better cope with them.
Change happens with a Plan.
- Know where you’re going
- Know how you’re getting there!
What if you were your best physical self and your capacity became more and better? What would that do for you, your family, your church leadership team, your congregation, our city, His Kingdom?
What are some specific stressors that you are not managing in a biblical way?
What health issues or problems may stem from this?
*Ask God, what physical/health related habits might He be opening your eyes to for change.
Rise up Charlotte Pastors! A Revival is coming!
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