Pastor: Are You Wondering about Wellness?
Pastor, are you well?
How you answer this question reveals a willingness, or lack thereof, to honestly evaluate who and how you are. Further, the answer to this question may well determine
the quality of your relationships, the quantity of your labor, and the tenure of your ministry. With these concerns highlighted, are you now willing to answer?1
While “wellness” may be a cultural buzzword, it can easily be understood as “balance.” It is a sense of equilibrium that impacts every facet of life, holistically connecting the spiritual and physical.
Most pastors tend to lean to their strengths. Doing so brings a steadfast reliance upon past victories and known abilities. Yet, in so doing, weaknesses are ignored and only degrade further. Along this treacherous path, strengths will become misaligned. The need for wellness/balance arises.
How well are you, pastor? Do you balance the demands of the ministry with the needs of your family? How is your physical and spiritual nutrition and exercise? What are you sacrificing upon the altar of the church for “success”?
Be careful. You may think you are well, but are ill. You may have lived so long on the “cutting edge,” you have become anesthetized to the needs of your soul, body, and those around you. If the edge really cuts, doesn’t that mean loss of blood and an unhealthy, messy condition?
Watch the contrasting. We pastors suffer from “comparisonitis.” Using faulty measuring devices, we often gauge our existence by seeking to stay staying a step ahead. If we can have more baptisms than Brother Pastor across town, build a bigger building than Brother Minister in the next county, or get a speaking engagement like Brother Denomination, all is well. Conversely, we may think that as long as we “aren’t as bad” as the disgraced clergy receiving all the press, we have survived a bit longer and deserve an entitlement. Remember, a fallen tree did not get rotten overnight.
Remember community. Ministry means people. Allow them to assist you in honest evaluation, proper motivation, and healthy integration. It is tough to be
vulnerable, but the Giver of our giftedness is worthy of our very best. Isolation is a choice that only breeds loneliness, self-centeredness, and inevitable heartache.
Reflect upon Christ Jesus. Ultimately, the Bible is the means of evaluation, specifically, the life of Jesus. The lack of self-care and seemingly indifferent attitude toward improvement among Southern Baptist pastors must be examined under the lamp of Jesus’ example and testimony.
Do the Gospels teach any clear principles of “body stewardship” that support a theology of “temple maintenance”? Ronald D. Sisk mentions three possibilities in his:
- The Gospels portray Jesus as particularly concerned with His life and with people’s physical health in this life;
- Jesus appears to have had a healthy concern for His own welfare (solitude, rest, and prayer); and
- Jesus consistently identified the greatest commandment as: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself” (Luke 10:27). The church has missed the emphasis upon a healthy love for self.2
Pastor, ask and answer this difficult question! Make the necessary adjustments. Desire alone will not do. It will take determined discipline. Waiting is the freshness of your family’s joy, the congregation’s growth and ultimately, the glory of God!
© Jim Fisher, Ph.D.
Christian Education and Leadership Concepts, LLC.
Fit for the Fight, January 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 Ronald D. Sisk, Surviving Pastoral Ministry (Macon, GA: Smyth and Helwys Publishing, 1997), 70-73.