The Unfit Pastor

Every week, thousands of pastors all around the world stand up in front of millions of people and proclaim the word of God. And while no one is perfect, including pastors, wouldn’t you find it a bit strange if your pastor stood up every Sunday to preach God’s word and he was still drunk from the night before? How about if he gave his mistress a kiss in front of everyone right before he began to pray? We might all say they’re unfit to be preaching.

Yet every week, pastors around the globe stand in front of the congregation, and they’re unfit. I’m not talking about them cheating on their wives or hung over drunk. They are unfit in the literal sense; in other words they’re not healthy. They are overweight, they don’t exercise, they have horrible eating habits, and they don’t even come close to getting enough rest. Most spend their time pursuing the passion that God has given them and ignoring the physical body God has given them to carry out these passions.

Now I’ve never heard of a pastor being unfit to lead because of their unfit lifestyle choice, and I’m not saying this should be the case. The reality is that this is an issue that needs to be addressed. As pastors, we can’t simply assume that our health is going to take care of itself. That would be like walking on stage every week never preparing a message, not establishing a church budget, or any of the other things required to be a successful ministry leader. Just because you ignore your health doesn’t make the problem go away.

I talk to and hear about pastors experiencing burnout on a regular basis. I have also been to conferences and heard pastors talk about the importance of health and how important it is to longevity in ministry. As a pastor who also happens to be a personal trainer, I feel the message of the importance of health oftentimes seems to be ignored. The message of health being consistently ignored would be equivalent to a pastor consistently preaching a giving message about the importance of tithing to people sitting in the congregation for years and yet never writing a tithe check.

This does not have to be a complicated matter; the bottom line is that walking with Christ is a lifestyle that looks different than any other. The same is true of a fitter lifestyle. In a world that says lets do what feels good in the moment and a country that is more overweight than it has ever been, the reason you want to pursue a healthier life is so that you can continue to do what God has called you to do and not be in the hospital or doctor’s appointment or popping tons of medication. You never want to say no to something God’s called you to do because you chose not to take better care of you body.

The question is, “Where do you start?” and the answers is simple: think EAT, MOVE, & REST. Most people Eat, Move, & Rest on a daily basis; the problem is they aren’t doing it to benefit the body but rather in a way that hinders it.

Let’s look at the simple way that benefits the body.

EAT– real food. I know as a pastor, you’re on the go a lot, and you get invited to a lot of lunches, dinners, and coffees. You get baked cookies, pies, and more. No excuses – you would never stop reading the Bible and just read books about the Bible. It’s the same thing when it comes to food – eat the real deal.

MOVE– I know you go from the bed to the bathroom and from the house to the car and so on and so on. That’s not enough – your body was designed to move. Just as you exercise your faith, you need to exercise your body. The great thing about exercise is there are hundreds of ways you can do it. From swimming, running, biking, tennis, rowing, Wii Fit, and more.  Find out how you like to move and get a MOVE on it.

REST – This always seems to be the hard one for pastors. They can’t ever seem to tell anyone no, and they are always on the go. (That rhymed) Jesus rested, and you’re not Jesus; you definitely need to rest. Sleeping only 12 hrs in a week and never taking a vacation does not equal REST. Rest and enjoy the gift of your life that God has given you.

Be who God called you to be and take care of the vessel that He has given you.

God has gifted me with not only being a pastor but a personal trainer, and if you are a pastor and have no idea how to get started or what to do, feel free to contact me – I would love to help.

Are you an unfit pastor? Do you know any unfit pastors? Why is this a taboo subject?  

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Vince Parker is a Youth Pastor at the NW Oklahoma City Campus of The youth ministry that Vince leads is the largest in the organization. Prior to ministry Vince had a successful career in retail management, as an entrepreneur and a personal trainer. He blogs at, where he shares his thoughts about life, ministry, health and fitness. Vince is married and has two children.