As I continue to reflect over the last ten years of ministry since graduating seminary I’d most likely say one of the big things I would do differently would be in the area of self care as a pastor. Self care simply meaning that I would have taken better care of myself when it came to my diet as well as exercising. I think it’s easy for the pastor to simply use the excuse that we don’t have the power of choice when it comes to making right decisions in that “ministry moment.” How do I tell a parishioner without hurting their feelings that I’d rather go get a salad as opposed to going and eating a pile of yummy greasy fried stuff. It something I need to get over and it’s something that I shouldn’t be ashamed of to be able to say, “Look friends, I’ve fallen short in the area of working at living a healthy lifestyle and I’m trying to begin a process of changing and making right decisions so that I can do what you’ve called me to do as your pastor.”
4. I would have done a lot more exercising and would have been more watchful of my diet. It was this last year that I learned that I graduated to the “high cholesterol” phase of my life. It was a wake up call and I’ve taken small steps toward getting healthy like actually using the treadmill that sits in our home as well as being careful not to eat an entire batch of Starbucks scones that are ever so addicting. I think over the last ten years I’ve noticed those small moments in my life where I’ve sensed that I need to make some changes and quick in how I take care of myself. Especially, when it comes to rest. Sometimes pastors forget to rest and to retreat from the four walls of the church. We forget that we can’t be effective in fulfilling our call as pastors if we’re about to keel over at any moment in our lives.
The reality is that a pastor that isn’t healthy means that the church will suffer as well as the pastor. It means the pastors family will suffer. It means the church needs to become a place where it encourages and challenges the pastor to live a healthy life. It should be a promise the congregation makes when a new pastor is hired and installed. It should be a mutually acceptable agreement between the pastor and the church that the pastor will create and implement healthy moments in his or her life when it comes to taking care of themselves so that they might be truly effective and able to provide the care and leadership a particular congregation needs when it comes to proclaiming God’s love. It most of all means that the pastor as well as the congregation should have safeguards that allow for the church to confront the pastor if they sense something is out of whack as well as the pastor being able to communicate their needs and feel the freedom to say, “Help, something’s wrong.”