Invitations to coffee and cake…
Late-night hospital visits…
A schedule filled with meetings…
…and always on call.
Pastors have many excuses to set aside their physical health. Yet discipleship calls us to tend not only to our spiritual health but physical health as well – as whole people, embodied and inspirited.
We asked pastors for their thoughts on managing their health:
Jesus invites our whole human selves to become his disciples. We as leaders need to model this.
That said, we live in a culture that has an ambiguous perspective toward the body: on one hand, we idolize the fit and beautiful bodies of those our culture defines as fit and beautiful; on the other hand, we spend much of our time in a disembodied state, interacting apart from our bodies.
We need to bear witness to Jesus’ affirmation of the goodness of the human body without succumbing to our current obsession with (a particular image of) the body.
So, I go running. And try to get to sleep on time. And so on.
As I’ve been learning about being a pastor, I’ve found a simple comparison that helps keep me on track.
A tradesperson makes a living using a set of tools. From hairstylist to plumber, tradespeople know they simply can’t do their job if their tools aren’t maintained well.
As a pastor, my tool is merely me. I bring myself to everything I do, from coffees to hospital visits to board meetings to sermons. I bring my presence, and somehow, Christ works through that. If my instruments are not operating smoothly, I’m useless – simple as that.
[Rod Schellenberg Hepburn (Sask.) MB Church
I love adventure, I love team sports, I love being active.
But my body started to deteriorate due to early onset osteoarthritis, and I had to give up these activities that kept me healthy.
A few years ago, I could barely walk without pain. And I moved into a lead pastor position where supervising youth activities no longer kept me moving.
When I wasn’t able to be active in the ways I knew, I had to get intentional and ask for help.
Specialists directed me to off-loading braces that allow me to move again – skiing, hiking, and even strapping on my hockey skates to coach my son’s team. (I’m thankful the MB conference’s medical plan covers braces.)
I’ve also taken up cycling. When I’ve got a day at work with a meeting in the evening and the weather is good, I’ll take off for a bike ride in the afternoon, no apologies. It serves me, my family, and my congregation better when I take care of my health.
I’m learning, as a person with bad knees, that you can’t separate soul care and body care – it’s both/and. We’ve disembodied ourselves – a terrible thing to do. It’s good to be in tune with what my body is saying. It’s linked to my emotions, who I am.
God made our bodies first, then he breathed into us (Genesis 2). There’s a holiness to the bodies God has given us. We have to take care of them because he called them very good.