So in the previous post I addressed why churches need to make their pastors go to the gym. And I stated how a church needs to pay for the pastor’s gym membership. Let me be clear. I’m not trying to get a gym membership. I have one and am thankful for my church. So why do I address this? What difference has the gym made in my own routine?
A year and a half ago I was depressed over the death of my Dad. He had pancreatic cancer. It was tough. A month or so after he died, I noticed my depression and realized I needed to make a change. I was stressed out and lethargic physically. I told myself, “Self, you have got to get in the gym.” So I made a drastic move. I started going to RPM. It’s a high energy bike workout. The first two weeks are really hard, but once you get used to the seat and pace, you will begin to see a difference. Some call this the spin class. I’ve been in it for a year and a half and I’m addicted. My legs are better now than when I was in the 101st Airborne. In January I added the Body Pump workout to my routine also. So 2-3 times a week I’m working out twice a day. I do RPM at 6:00 am and Body Pump at 7:30 am. I’m able to start my morning off with high energy workouts. Here is what it looks like:
5:30 am – Wake up (I only live 5 minutes from the gym)
6:00 am – RPM workout (45 minutes)
7:00 am – Bible reading with Jeana (35 minutes coffee, Bible, prayer)
7:30 am – Body Pump workout (50 mintues)
9:00 am – Study (Immersion, Prayer until noon)
I pray through the RPM workout. I pray for the people in the room. I start mentally reviewing the message I will preach Sunday. I get to also clear my mind and body of stress. Physical activity at a high level allows stress to be burned. Pastors have a good amount of stress that comes on the normal days. They deal with many peoples’ problems and they attach emotionally. They carry the burdens of many. It’s not easy to carry the burdens of people. Physical exertion does help spiritually. Today’s pastors sit behind desks or in front of computer screens. They have odd schedules. There needs to be a way for pastors to be healthy because of the enormous issues they face in their own lives and the lives of others.
One great thing a pastor can tell his church is that he is a wise steward of his ministry and the church’s mission by taking care of himself. A pastor who works out stays fresh, feels better and operates at a higher level than a pastor who is depressed, sluggish, and heavy. Also, a pastor who prioritizes the gym sets a great example of his people. And regardless if your church does this for you or not, you should join a gym pastor. You cannot afford NOT to do it.
Pastors: Be healthy in every way. Your health is like your 403(b). Own your future.
Churches: one way or another, get your pastors in the gym so they will be around longer to serve the body of Christ.
I’ve been on a mini campaign lately. It’s a push to get pastors into the gym. My sales pitch has been going like
this. “If I were on a church personnel team or elder team, I would make a strong recommendation that the church pay for the pastor to have a gym membership. The pastor would not have to pay for it. The payment would be made by the church as a benefit to the pastor. This should really include the entire pastoral staff. If possible, it could include the entire staff, period. Anyway, I would start by recommending the church pay for the pastor to have a gym membership. But here is the catch. The pastor has to go to the gym. It’s mandatory. The pastor would have to go at least three times a week. And someone on the personnel team would be responsible for checking the attendance a the gym once a month.”
What do you think? Is this a good move? What are you saying in your mind right now?
Why do you need to make your pastor go to the gym? Pastors need to go to the gym because their is an obesity problem among pastors. The Southern Baptists know it. And I was blown away at the honesty of Thom Rainer as to his own struggle with obesity. Up to one third of pastors are overweight. When I first became a Christian, I was in the Army. I was in shape. Yet I remember what got me into the church in a way that caused me to stick. I learned a new phrase: pot luck. Christians eat. Church events center around food. The joke was “preachers are fat because everyone in the church is killing them with fried chicken dinners.” I do remember a good number of pastors and evangelists were overweight.
Now to be honest, the gym is not the only way to lose weight. One pastor did it by not joining a gym but by changing his eating habits. I would say that any gym membership needs to be complemented by changing eating habits. Stop over eating. Stop eating carbs. Stop eating sweets. This can all help, but it alone is also inadequate.
Obesity is not good. Being overweight is not good. I am carrying a few pounds I would like to lose. When a person, not to mention a pastor, is heavy and sluggish, job performance will suffer. Pastors do carry a heavy load. It come with the calling and territory. I don’t want to be a whiner. But seriously, pastors are on call 24/7. Each week has natural stressors in dealing with the problems of other people. And pastors get problems of people in higher amounts than most people. Someone may say, “I have stressors in my life too.” Yes, you do, but so does your pastor. And that is on top of the struggles of people in church and community. Some pastors don’t survive the challenges of ministry. Then they don’t take care of themselves. Some quit.
In all the articles I’ve read on pastoral fitness and obesity, few recommended the gym. Most preached the outcomes of doing nothing. Well, I’m suggesting another way for pastors to be fit.
Why should you get your pastor a gym membership and hold him accountable?
1. It shows you care about him.
2. Working out burns stress and births spiritual freshness.
3. It makes him accountable for what he probably wants to do but won’t do on his own.
4. It educates your church body on the need for physical fitness.