Pastor, Is Your Spiritual Health Counsel Well?
Pastors ultimately spend their days as teachers seeking to impart paths to Christ-likeness.1 The goal of conforming to the image of Christ is accomplished through spiritual growth and maturity, period. What is the source of such reliable information? Pastoral coaches? Church growth experts? A favorite author? Or perhaps, the life of Jesus as recorded in the Gospels?
Of particular interest is the Gospel of Luke, the only account written by a first-century physician. In his book Dr. Luke’s Prescription for Spiritual Health, professor Thomas McDaniel records important issues from the doctor and disciple of Christ Jesus:
Dr. Luke’s approach to physical health has a different emphasis. Because he believes health to be dependent on the Holy Spirit and the attitude of the patient, his prescriptions sound strange to the modern ear so accustomed to the scientific and technological approaches of our age. His perspective requires us to think about health as a spiritual matter, not merely “disease maintenance,” and his prescriptions deal with our attitudes and actions.2
While not discounting medicinal treatment and evaluative tools, Professor McDaniel exegetes six prescriptions from Dr. Luke’s Gospel in seeking to strike a holistic understanding of both physical and spiritual health.3 His articulation of health indicates a common-sense approach to biblical interpretation and application:
- Understand Your Health as a Matter of Wholeness: A lack of unity in the soul is the greatest suffering, not the presence of microscopic viruses or biochemical disorders. Because all healing is an inside out process, the patient must prayerfully seek God’s healing to fight disease, dysfunction, and a dis-spirited body for the restoration of wholeness.
- Watch What Goes in Your Mouth and What Comes Out: Citing John the Baptist’s life of abstaining from alcohol and Jesus’ condemnation of the Pharisees’ actions in response to diet-produced self-righteousness, both the intake and the output of the body are addressed. Healthy lives are produced by what is put in the mouth and what is released in words and attitudes.
- Access the Holy Spirit’s Power through Prayer: Luke records many healings through the touch of Jesus. This direct physical connection between doctor and patient is being valued in the twenty-first century. The power to heal requires the physician to prayerfully seek God, the ultimate source of all health. Just as Jesus turned to prayer, doctors and patients must commune with God in solitarily places to be refreshed by the ministry of the Holy Spirit.
- Get Well to Serve Others: Luke’s message includes the provision of service and self-sacrifice as an antidote to self-absorption. Jesus, as the practitioner, is depicted as willing to lay down His life for the patient. Those who still have work to do and service to render are better candidates for survival than are others.
- Express Gratitude for Your Cures: A patient’s attitude is extremely important in Luke’s practice of healing. He pays close attention to the expression of gratitude in those whom Jesus heals. More than an expected response, gratitude reveals a healthy spirit that recognizes the maintainer and sustainer of all good things.
- Exercise the Virtues of Love and Forgiveness: As hallmarks of a healthy spirit, love and forgiveness can prove to be the strongest medicine for the ills of humanity. More than sentiment or emotions, these virtues are placed into action. Expressing such love and forgiveness will reap the benefit of such virtues being offered in return.
Source. What is your source for engaging and sharing growth? A faulty foundation will inevitably lead to fruitless results, no matter how well-intentioned.
Surety. Do you find ultimate peace and rest in the veracity of Scripture as the absolute standard for teaching? The temptation to assimilate other publications can minimize biblical precedence.
Soak. Are you regularly meditating upon the Word, separate from preparing sermons/lessons and writing articles? Failure to do so will blur the necessary line between personal edification and professional implementation.
© Jim Fisher, Ph.D.
Christian Education and Leadership Concepts, LLC.
Fit for the Fight, February 2011
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 Thomas R. McDaniel, Dr. Luke's Prescription for Spiritual Health (Carlsbad, CA: Magnus Press, 2000), 21.