An Essential Ingredient of a Lasting Ministry

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With another year upon us, there may be a desire to make certain resolutions, or habits, to live by in the new year. Some will establish a new gym routine, others will employ a Bible reading plan, not a few will develop a financial budget replete with additional savings and a more strict spending plan, and a fraction of the population will suggest that we should not create new resolutions for 2015. Wherever you fall on the spectrum of new year's resolutions, as of late, I have been struck by something I desire to maintain in the new year, as well as in the years ahead. This idea happens to befall during this time of year--the new year. So, it is not a resolution inasmuch as it is a resurfaced revelation. It seems that it is an essential ingredient of a lasting ministry. It is basic, but I have taken it for granted. It is my health.

As I stood in the pulpit last week leading my congregation in the call to worship, confession of sin, singing, and other parts of our service, things were fine initially. When it was time to preach, however, I noticed some changes. I was sweating more than usual in an otherwise cool room. About two-thirds of the way through the sermon I began to lose my voice. "What is happening?", I thought? In response, I wiped my face with my hand as to not let the sweat be a distraction. I elevated my voice so that the people could hear me.

At the conclusion of the sermon, just moments before the sursum corda, I asked our audio/video (A/V) gentleman to turn up my microphone. I could barely be heard at my normal volume. The problem was I was sick. I had not taken care of myself enough throughout these winter months to avoid it.

After this experience, my health became more much important. As a solo pastor, there are many things I have to accomplish throughout the week. Some of those things do not require an audible conversation (e.g., sending email, other administrative duties, purchasing supplies, etc.), but many things do require my voice. I have to respond to some emergencies, which require dialogue, counseling, evangelism, family devotion, and, of course, leading worship, preaching, praying, and administering the sacraments on the Lord's Day. Being ill affects many areas of those areas, especially if the illness begins to affect one's ability to speak. 

I recall something my mother used to say while I was in the sixth grade. One cold morning, I determined that I wanted to wear a certain pair of jeans and a shirt. Those items were unsuitable for the cold weather. When I showed my mother what I was wearing, she responded, "Do you want to be cute or do you want to be warm?" I was young and nearly invincible. I was not concerned about the cold. I was more concerned about how cute I was. "Surely these clothes," I thought, "would not affect my health." It did, and years later, it seems, I may not have learned from that experience. 

I need to take care of myself. My vocation is largely dependent upon speaking. Quite frankly, other things are affected by growing ill also (e.g., intimacy with my wife, contact with my children, large group gatherings, dinner with neighbors, etc.). Interestingly, as I recall all the books on pastoral ministry I have read, few if any, mention maintaining one's health. With all the busyness of ministry, it seems like that would be one of the most important things. Or perhaps we have become practical gnostics? We are more concerned with our spiritual health than our physical health?

Something as simple as dressing appropriately throughout the year and eating healthy will help. This will not guarantee nearly perfect health, but it will be an aid. Of course physical exercise can also be a shepherd in the arena of health. Whatever my plan, I need to be more intentional in maintaining my health in 2015. How about you?
Posted December 31, 2014 @ 7:52 AM by Leon Brown

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