Friday, April 15, 2011

Making Changes

I'm working on making some changes.

Don't worry, I'm not messing with the worship service or switching out the coffee at fellowship. I'm working on making some changes in myself. I don't often post much about myself like this, but I want you to know about one of the new priorities in my life. I have set it to make myself a better and healthier mother, spouse, pastor, and, most importantly, child of God.

I have never been what anyone would consider an athletic or physically fit person. No one has ever labelled me a health nut. Rather, I enjoy food, lots of food. I like to read, watch TV, knit, see movies, not particularly active things. The outdoors are pretty, and I enjoy sitting on our patio and relaxing in the warm weather, but I've never felt compelled to spend a lot of active time out of the house. A walk down to Knoke's is about as good as it has gotten for me, and hey, there's even ice cream or chocolate to reward that walk!

In the last couple of months, though, I have decided to make some changes. For the most part it has actually been a matter of stewardship. I know we usually think about stewardship in terms of money, but I have been thinking about stewardship of myself, my body, my health. Like all of God's children I have been called to take care of what God has created, and recently I have begun to realize that even means me.

A recent tweet from the PC(USA) Research Services Offices included this information from the results of two studies of the weight and health of pastors: The share of pastors who are obese almost doubled from 1991 to 2008. I wish this surprised me, but it didn't. I wish it were better news about the health of professional church leaders, but it isn't. Unfortunately, those of us who feel called to a vocation that includes caring for others sometimes forget to take care of ourselves. We let the unpredictable schedule get the best of us and don't carve out time keep bodies healthy. We forget that we are called to be stewards not just of the congregations we serve, but the bodies in which we live.

A few months ago, even before seeing the results of this research, I decided I would start taking better care of myself. I decided it was important to my family, myself, my spiritual life, and even our church for me to be as healthy as I can be.

I took up running and despite a minor setback due to some back problems this week am training for a local charity 5K race to be held in one month. I have never even run 1 mile (not even in elementary or junior high school!), but now I'm signed up to run 3.1. The meals we eat as a family are pretty nutritious already, but I have been paying closer attention to some of the choices I make. I am being more vigilant about taking adequate time to relax and relieve stress whenever possible. I haven't turned into a complete "health nut," and I certainly haven't sworn off walks for Knoke's chocolate or our delicious fellowship treats, but I am trying to establish some healthy habits and care for the body God has given me so that I can serve our Lord to the best of my ability.

A new website and virtual community I have gotten involved in is called #runrevrun. The group started on Twitter, and just this month we have set up a website to encourage ministers and others in "Keeping Fit, Keeping Faith." You, too, can check it out! I hope to be an occasional writer on the blog, writing from the perspective of an exercise "newbie." In the meantime, I go to the site and read posts daily to be encouraged by the efforts of my colleagues in ministry. I post my runs on Twitter and encourage my new friends as they strive to get healthy, too.

I share this with you because it has become important to me. It is important to me to improve my health for myself, my family, and my call, which is as your pastor. It has meant and will continue to mean some changes in my life and also my schedule. It means on days with long evening meetings you might not find me in the office first thing in the morning; I'll be outside or at the Y squeezing a run into the day. It means when my schedule is full during the day I might have to leave an evening open to make time some healthy activity. It MIGHT mean I choose to politely decline a very tasty treat (but don't count on that!).

I also share this with you to encourage you to think about the stewardship of your own life. Are you caring for the part of God's creation that is closest to you? Is your health a priority so that you can serve God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength and love your neighbor as you love yourself? If not, I encourage you to think about even just a small change or two you can make to set this priority as you move forward in faith and service.

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