Pastor, Do You Care About Wellness?
The issue of “wellness” has taken center-stage in the American culture, becoming a part of common vocabulary. The body of Christ and her leaders should be concerned about wellness, as it is can be an articulation of biblical spirituality in living the Great Commandment.1
Defining the Word
Any conversation is helped when the same dictionary is being used. While definitions for “wellness” will vary across the spectrum, it is a term that gathers many facets of the human experience in a holistic approach of striving to maintain and embrace balance between the physical and the spiritual.
The term is credited to Halbert L. Dunn, M.D., first appearing in his booklet High Level Wellness. Dr. Dunn viewed “wellness as a lifestyle approach for pursuing elevated states of physical and psychological well-being,” underscoring wellness as “a disciplined commitment to personal mastery” that is also described as “multidimensional, centered on personal responsibility and environmental awareness.” 2
Wellness is also defined as “a lifestyle approach for realizing your best possibilities for well being,” including particular attention to the “range of actions under your control,” such as eating, exercise, and the management of stress.” 3
Published by the University of California at Berkley, The New Wellness Encyclopedia defines wellness against the backdrop of misperceptions:
Bear in mind that wellness is not “alternative” medicine- it doesn’t promote special diets, regimens that rely on vitamin supplements, herbal medications, or other treatments based on fads or anecdotal evidence. Nor is wellness a substitute for medical care when you are ill. Physicians, nurses, and other well-trained medical providers can diagnose, alleviate, and cure many types of health problems. Your doctor can also perform routine tests and examinations that can greatly increase your chances of avoiding or recovering from an illness. Nevertheless, the medical community by and large is devoted to helping people get well after they have become ill. The premise of wellness is that there are many ways to prevent problems that affect your health, and correct information is essential for you to make
the proper choices. 4
Learn. If wellness is central to life and ultimately, ministry, shouldn't you be concerned with being well? Being on the fast-track to ministerial success may only lead to a head-on collision.....you and your family will lose.
Look. If wellness is important, shouldn't these truths be addressed from the leader? Maybe teaching will prevent some hospital visits and worse, early home-goings.
Listen. If wellness is vital, will the body let you know when things are not right? Many issues are signaled by the body. Paying attention to the signs is worth far more than a salary increase or bigger ministry.
Lean. If wellness is a predictor of longevity and satisfaction, shouldn't it be placed at the forefront of your concerns? Leaning forward to a new start and a fresh tomorrow can bring a real sense of well being.
Lordship. Ultimately, isn't wellness a matter of Lordship? Jesus saved you in a body and kept you in that body to serve. Its temporal address is no excuse to ignore preventative maintenance.
© Jim Fisher, Ph.D.
Christian Education and Leadership Concepts, LLC.
Fit for the Fight, February 2010
1 Much of the information is taken from the author’s dissertation: The Relationship Between Selected Disciplines of Physical Wellness and Spiritual Wellness Among Southern Baptist Pastors, 2006.
2 Donald B. Ardell 2006. What is Wellness? Retrieved 25 January 2006 from www.seekwellness.com.
3 Donald B. Ardell. 14 Days to Wellness (Novato, CA: New World Library,1999), 3.
4 Thomas Dickey, ed. The New Wellness Encyclopedia: The Best Selling Guide to Preventing Disease and Maintaining Your Heath and Well-Being (Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin,1995), 10.