We’ve all heard the adage that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. The same goes for our health. Because our physical, emotional and spiritual health are woven together, weaknesses in one area tend to carry over into others.
For many of us, our weakest link is the state of our physical health. For years we’ve been pouring every hour and every ounce of our energy into ministry, and now we must face the truth—our waistlines have grown, and our energy has waned.
Why have so many of us “care-driven” pastors stopped caring about ourselves?
Maybe it’s not that we don’t care about ourselves, but that we don’t prioritize our own needs in the face of busy, out-of-control lifestyles.
I hear pastors talk all the time about feeling terrible: not sleeping well, never having energy and struggling with health issues. Yet, at the same time, I watch them beat up their bodies with bad food and sedentary lives.
The excuses abound: “It costs too much to shop healthy.” “Fast food is so much easier.” “I don’t have time to work out.” “I’m too tired.”
I used to make those same excuses. I’ve always worked while raising a family, so balancing work with family and “me” time was a struggle. For quite a while, I watched my husband prioritize his health. He put his workouts on his daily calendar and treated them like seriously important appointments.
I began to ask myself why I didn’t do the same. I stopped listening to the nagging inner voice telling me I was being selfish or that my kids needed time with me over my workout. God gave us one life and one body, and charged us with their care.
Here are a few life-balancing things that worked for me:
- I quit the gym. For years, I went to gym workouts with a bad attitude and made a half-hearted effort. Since I’ve let myself “count” the outdoor activities I love as workouts (rollerblading, walking around the lake, biking with friends), I find myself outdoors “working out” almost every day. Find an activity you enjoy and do it.
- I stopped making excuses. Prioritizing your health is not selfish, nor is it ungodly. I am showing the people around me (church and family) how choosing to lead a healthy lifestyle affects me positively (mood, sleep, energy). Schedule and treat exercise time as an important appointment.
- I educated myself. I realized that I could no longer listen to TV commercials to figure out what was healthy. Now, more than ever before, we have a wealth of information at our fingertips. Commit to learning how to make healthier choices.
By: De Rockwell, an emergency physician assistant, and care and family health facilitator for the Gateway District