Advice You Know and How to Do ItBy Jamie Hart
February 10, 2021
Pastor, I’m going to tell you something you already know. Self-care is vital to the success of your ministry. Paul knew that well when he told Timothy, “Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching (1 Tim. 4:16a).” Certainly, he had his spiritual health foremost in his mind, but Paul also knew that Timothy was more than spirit. That’s why a holistic approach to self-care is vital. Today I want to remind you (and I realize I’m only reminding you as you have heard these truths before) of several practices that should be present in your life for healthy self-care. I’m not going to talk about the MOST obvious practices such as a good prayer life and constant personal devotional life. I trust you not only know you need those but have found a way to actually get those to a more consistent level. I want to address the less obvious elements of self-care and remind you of their importance.
Here is advice you have heard from near birth. If your schooling experience is similar to mine, you have been taught the principles of healthy eating from kindergarten. True, the advice keeps changing, but the basic idea is undeniable. Your diet is vital to your health.
It’s Monday morning, and Pastor Bob drags himself out of bed. His sleep last night was, well, less than ideal. He was up multiple times with heartburn and digestive issues. He feels miserable and yet he must get up, get to work, and lead. What Pastor Bob might not recall is that last night he had “celebratory nachos” after a long day of ministry. The cheese was flowing and the jalapeños were plentiful! But there are consequences to such choices, and now “morning Bob” is paying the price of “last night Bob.”
This is not “new” news at all! Along with the life-time of advice to eat right, you have also been told to work out consistently. And again, there is no shortage of systems and programs that are all claim to be the best way. But even though we know the importance of fitness and even though we have more access than ever before to fitness advice, this still seems so elusive. The reality is, however, a good exercise plan will not just save you from significant health issues down the road. It will also give you more energy in the here and now.
Tim sipped his black coffee while sitting at his desk. He had more energy in that moment than he had for a very long time. He was well into his second month following his new fitness app, and he was finally past the soreness. He now experiences more energy, better sleep, and a smaller waist. Smaller…but not small. Looking down at the remaining bulge in his shirt, he acknowledged he would probably never sport a six-pack. However, the increased vitality and long-term benefits were enough to keep him motivated.
Much of your job is filled with things you don’t enjoy. Yes, you love preaching and the study of the word of God. Vision casting excites you as you share your dreams for the future. But expense reports, confrontational conversations, and all the meetings (so many meetings) probably leave you feeling drained. That’s why it’s important to find activities that bring you genuine pleasure. A good hobby and can bring rest to your soul in unexpected ways.
Jamie grinned as he moved his rook to H7 and declared “checkmate.” “What?!?” his son Landen said as he didn’t even see the end coming. Jamie was glad that his son had discovered the enjoyment of a good game of chess, and that he hadn’t discovered the hidden rook! (Yes, I’m using my name and my son’s name as I retell a recent event in the way it SHOULD have happened, and, unfortunately, not in the way it actually did).
There is so much more I could mention. Practices such as building good friendships, developing a deep love of reading books outside your normal ministry reading, and being active in your community could be among them. But again, we all know how important these practices are, but very few of us actually do them.
How to actually do it.
There is often a gap between what we know and what we do. This is true for us and this is certainly true for our church people. I want to encourage you by bringing you to the bridge between knowing and doing, the secret to traversing this gap. The bridge’s name is “Intentionality.”
To get from knowing to doing, you simply need to answer two key questions: what am I going to do and when am I going to do it? This is true of Bible reading. Many of our people know they should read God’s Word, but if they could simply answer, “What am I going to read?” and then “When, this week, am I going to read it?” they would find the needed intentionality and would see their personal devotional life take a step over the bridge.
The same is true for us, pastor. Pick one of the areas above that you know you need to fix. Then answer the two key questions: “What diet changes do I need to implement? When am I going to start? What fitness program am I going to use? When will I begin? What hobby interests me? When will I start?” I would encourage you to only pick one practice and make the initial goals small. You can build on them later when this new intentional plan becomes a habit.
Brother, as you add better practices, not only will you reap the benefits, but so will your family and so will your ministry.