Preaching God’s Word is a priceless privilege. Also, it is one of the most stressful jobs on the planet. Spiritual battle, mental strain, emotional stress, and physical neglect create a devastating recipe for bad health.
1 Samuel 4:15–18
“Now Eli was ninety and eight years old; and his eyes were dim, that he could not see.
And the man said unto Eli, I am he that came out of the army, and I fled to day out of the army. And he said, What is there done, my son?
And the messenger answered and said, Israel is fled before the Philistines, and there hath been also a great slaughter among the people, and thy two sons also, Hophni and Phinehas, are dead, and the ark of God is taken.
And it came to pass, when he made mention of the ark of God, that he fell from off the seat backward by the side of the gate, and his neck brake, and he died: for he was an old man, and heavy. And he had judged Israel forty years.”
Many preachers struggle with their physical health.
There are two stereotypical extremes of preachers. The first is the “plastic preacher.” He looks like a Ken doll with every hair in place, six-pack abs, and way too much emphasis on his appearance.
The second is the “plump preacher.” He is overweight, unfit, and gives way too little thought to his appearance.
Both extremes should be avoided like the plague.
In the verses above, the Scriptures tell the sad end of Eli the priest. He was a good man of God who strayed because he refused to restrain his sons. He died in shame as an old fat man who failed God. Lord, keep us from such a fate!
The Bible gives an interesting detail in the story. He was heavy. This means he was fat. The reason why he was fat is worse that the fact of his size.
1 Samuel 2:29
“Wherefore kick ye at my sacrifice and at mine offering, which I have commanded in my habitation; and honourest thy sons above me, to make yourselves fat with the chiefest of all the offerings of Israel my people?”
Eli got fat as he enjoyed the spoils of his son’s sins! God pronounced judgment on the entire family.Every preacher should maintain his physical health in order to present a good testimony for the Lord. Click To Tweet
No preacher should be “fat and lazy” living of the spoils of the people of God.
This is not a tirade of a skinny person railing on those who are unfit.
Full disclosure – I am a heavy man. I have been a heavyweight since I was in first grade. My genes not my friend. I can pack on muscle quickly which is a blessing. Or I can look at a Twinkie and gain a pound. Not a blessing. And the well-upholstered people said “amen.”
There are a myriad of reasons people can be heavy or unfit. We must not be judgmental in this area.
Some have serious health concerns, struggling organs, unruly hormones, terrible disease, physical injuries, unkind genes, etc. Others are facing serious life struggles where their personal health is the least of their worries at the moment.
Moreover, preachers get so busy taking care of others that we fail to take care of ourselves. I have this problem too. This is expedient today, but shortens our ministry and lessens our daily productivity over time. If you struggle with this issue, this article may help.
This concept isn’t just for the heavy folks. Some of you skinny people have candy and soda running through your veins. Others who look fit are emotionally unstable. Neither are good.
The purpose of this article is to encourage men of God to do the best they can with what God gave them. The goal is not the body of a magazine model or Hollywood hunk.
The goal is spiritual, physical, mental, and emotional fitness so we can have a long productive ministry if the Lord tarries.
I am a heavy man who is not making excuses. I work out two – 3 times per week for an hour. I’m getting stronger and more fit. I’m trying to work into my schedule to stretch and walk every day.
I don’t want to die old, fat, and compromised like Eli.
I don’t want to have the wisdom of God and the experience of life, but be sidelined in ministry because of the foolish neglect of my health.
I’m heading in the right direction, but I haven’t arrived. Pray for me along the journey. Who will join me?
Consider these six compelling reasons that every preacher should exercise.
1. Increase Overall Health
Science has settled the fact that physical exercise is beneficial. There is some debate about what kind of exercise is best, but everyone agrees that planned physical exertion is good for you.
Exercise increases blood flow, disperses nutrients, benefits your heart, bolsters your organs, and regulates your hormones.
Plus you just feel better.
2. Strengthen Muscles
1 Timothy 4:8
“For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.”
Clearly, godliness is more important than physical exercise. However, this verse teaches that bodily exercise is profitable.
Muscles are the motors of the body and the furnaces of the metabolism. More muscle is good.
3. Galvanize The Will
2 Timothy 2:3
“Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.”
A preacher can’t afford to get soft.
The mental toughness and exercise of the will during a workout will keep you sharp.
Do it when you don’t feel like. Push out an extra rep when you don’t think you can. Go a little further. Do a little more. Push through the weakness.
Mental toughness is an important asset in life and ministry.
4. Exercise Self- Control
1 Corinthians 9:27
“But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.”
You need to tell your body what to do.
The last point spoke to mental strength. This one encourages you to be the master of your flesh.
Buffet your body daily. Tell it what to do. Make it submit. It is your servant. It is your vehicle in this life. If you take your hands off the wheel, it will drive you into a ditch.
5. Dissipate Negative Emotions
Mental and emotional health are underrated.
Pastors and preachers face intense mental and emotional resistance.
Sometimes the body will hold onto negative emotions as well. Exercise gives you a legitimate way to burn through frustration, anger, hurt, fear, and other negative feelings.
6. Lengthen Productive Ministry
2 Timothy 4:7
“I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:”
The ultimate goal of Christian fitness is longevity in God’s will.
Commit to spiritual, physical, mental, and emotional fitness so you can have a long productive ministry if the Lord tarries.
Start where you are.
Find a plan and a rhythm that works for you.
Stay at it.
Choose a realistic measure of success (weight, BMI, % fat, stamina, etc,) and make it happen.
Enlist an accountability partner and encourage one another along the way.
May God give us more preachers! May God enable the preachers we have to labor long in the spiritual vineyard!
What do you think? Leave a comment below.