LOUISVILLE, Ky. — I have served in active ministry for the sake of my Lord for 40 years, and for the last decade as director of Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief. In that time, I’ve learned that ministry is not for the faint of heart.
Our calling often requires us to sacrifice ourselves for the sake of Christ and others with long hours and stressful days. This can wear on us physically, emotionally and spiritually.
I was reminded of this in May of last year when I began having some neck pain and numbness in my left arm. When this continued, I decided to call my cardiologist.
I was quickly scheduled for a heart catheterization, and the result was three stents placed in my coronary arteries. I am thankful for God’s sufficient grace and that I could catch this health problem before it caused more serious issues like a major heart attack or stroke.
God has reminded me afresh that I cannot serve Him well if I do not take care of my own health.
I would encourage you to:
— Develop a regular discipline of exercise. Especially in ministry, I have found a morning 30-minute exercise regimen to be best for me since I often lose control of my afternoons and evenings as needs arise during the day. Find a type of exercise that you enjoy and can maintain. For me, it is walking or riding a stationary bike.
— Maintain a healthy diet. It is easy to eat “on the go” and to make less than healthy choices. I am disciplining myself to watch my portion size, to eat more vegetables and fruit, and to watch my cholesterol and fats. I thank God that eating healthier has increased my energy for His sake.
— Get proper rest. We all need a good night’s sleep. God recharges the body when we allow it to rest and trust the events of the day to Him.
— Take time to get away from ministry for brief periods and to allow God to restore you. Unlike the Energizer Bunny, we will run down without some down times to relax. Ministry can be demanding and stressful, even when things are going well. Burnout and compassion fatigue are damaging to us and our families and can be deadly to ministry.
— Rely on the strength of God’s Holy Spirit to help you begin and maintain good health practices. If overeating is a weakness for you, then ask the Spirit to help you fight the urge to make unhealthy food choices. If lack of exercise is your problem, then ask God to help you set your alarm and get up a few minutes earlier.
God cares about our physical, emotional or spiritual health. He wants us to do all we can to be healthy and active for His sake for the days He has appointed us. Take care of yourself for your sake, but, even deeper, for His sake.
“For you were bought at a price,” Scripture tells us. “Therefore glorify God in your body” (1 Corinthians 6:20).