A pastor needs to take care of his body.
I don’t mean that in the allegorical sense where body means church. Of course the pastor needs to take care of the church body. However, that’s harder to do when his own body is falling apart because of poor health.
I realize the danger in writing an article like this. It’s easy to come of as one of those guys on an infomercial selling an ab blaster for six easy payments of $19.95. That’s not my aim. Our abs, whether they’re stacked like bricks or hidden behind a layer of a few too many dinners on the grounds, won’t get anyone into heaven.
I was pretty early in my ministry when I realized that something had to give. I was a single youth pastor living in a rural area. When I first came to the church I was serving, I was built like a toothpick. Someone told me that that would change after a few years. It did. That’s because I was on what I like to call the Youth Minister Diet Pyramid. I call it that because pizza slices kind of look like pyramids if you hold them the right way and pizza was all I was eating.
After I made some changes, people thought I had joined a cult. If you wan’t people to think that you’re weird, move to a small, rural town in the deep south and tell the folks at the Southern Baptist church where you work that you try to stay away from fried chicken. It can be sort of like telling them that you don’t like NASCAR or that you don’t know who Bill Gaither is.
It’s not my place to tell you what not to eat just like it’s not my place to tell you how much you should weigh. There are really skinny people who need to do a better job with their diet and there are people who some consider overweight who are actually in really good shape. These matters are more complex than most of us realize.
All I’m telling you is that you need to take care of your body.
Be careful what you eat. This is hard to do. If you’ve ever watched one of those food documentaries, you know that every food that even remotely tastes good is bad for you and you should stick to a steady diet of baked ants and free range unicorn juice. I spend a lot of time in health food stores and with people who eat healthy. For many of them, it’s never enough. Whatever food you’ve cut out it isn’t enough. This can be overwhelming, but don’t let it get you down.
Use common sense and your God-given discernment. Don’t act as though enjoying a bowl of ice cream somehow changes your standing before God. At the same time, don’t allow a second and third bowl of ice cream to be your god.
This goes beyond what you put into your body. Making your body move is just as important. You might be the type who can do 150 burpees every morning before breakfast. Great! But that doesn’t have to be you. Maybe a walk around the block is more your speed. Great! The point is to move if you can for as long as you can.
I eat healthy and exercise but that’s not where my hope is. I tell my friends who like fried foods and high fructose corn syrup that I very well might die before they do. I’ll just biodegrade faster. My hope is in Jesus, not my lack of gluten.
But that doesn’t mean that my body doesn’t matter. It does. And so does yours. It is a gift that God has given to you for his glory and the good of others.
Do what you can to take care of it.
There are some pastors who completely disregard their bodies. This hurts them in the long run. There are other pastors who take great care of their bodies and they want you to know about it. This too hurts them in the long run. Don’t let your appetite rule you, whether it’s an appetite for food or the praise of man. Instead pastor, just do your best to take care of the physical body that God has given to you so that you can do your best to take care of the church body that he has given to you.