As the saying goes, “I’m here for a good time, not a long time.” However, data surrounding the health of most pastors in America seems to indicate that they aren’t here for either.
Research conducted in 2018 found that pastors had higher cholesterol, higher rates of asthma, and more hypertension than other Americans. 41% were obese, compared to 29% of Americans overall, which is a major factor in these other health related concerns.
Since the time of these studies, pastors have been called upon to navigate a global pandemic, social unrest amid racial tensions, and a political discourse that is as toxic as they’ve ever seen.
The 2018 research found that an alarming number of pastors were overly stressed, experiencing anxiety and depression, and pressed by financial concerns. These risk factors are even more elevated among pastors now than they were then.
In short, pastors are in bad shape—in more ways than one.
There is little pastors can do to change many of the factors that are leading to their stress and anxiety. If pastors could, they would have shut off the pandemic three weeks in. But they can’t do that anymore than they can slow inflation or stop the insanity that is our national politics.
But that isn’t to say that there isn’t anything they can do to ensure a better quality (and longevity) of life. Pastors who focus on their physical health through a balanced diet and regular exercise will experience myriad benefits large and small, as will their families and their churches.
Here are at least three reasons why pastors need to invest in their physical fitness.
1. Your Family Will Be Grateful if You Live Longer and Healthier.
Maybe you are overweight, perhaps even technically obese, living a sedentary lifestyle—but generally doing okay. You don’t have any major health concerns. You can move around enough to perform your duties as pastor. So you’re not that concerned.
Be that as it may, now is the perfect time to consider increasing your physical activity, becoming intentional about your nutrition, and attempting to get your weight within a healthy range. Too many men wait until a major medical scare before they start taking their health and fitness seriously. For some, they never get the chance, as their health crisis is fatal or extremely life altering.
You might not be old yet. But you’re definitely not getting any younger. Get serious about your health and physical fitness.
Your family sacrifices so much by partnering with you in ministry. Don’t live in such a way that increases the likelihood that they will also have to sacrifice you to an early grave. Don’t live in such a way that increases the likelihood that they will have to sacrifice, both financially and emotionally, to come alongside you as you endure health concerns that you didn’t need to experience.