Why Physical Fitness Can’t Be an Afterthought for Church Leaders

Busyness.

Fatigue.

Negligence.

Each of these serves as reasons most pastors do not make physical fitness part of their normal day. In our vocation, there seems to be a major disconnect among us regarding the importance of our physical condition.

Have you ever considered that you are unable to go where your body and health cannot take you?

It is not my intention to create guilt, but motivation. I’m not trying to heap added pressure upon your life along with what you already deal with daily.

I simply want to encourage you to take action to care for your physical health. Perhaps you have never considered this, but did you know that there should be a connection between your walk with Christ and a regular practice for physical fitness and conditioning? I have believed this for years and have forwarded it continually in my newest book, Living Fit.

As your spiritual life goes, so goes the rest of your life.

A PERSONAL STORY

In my younger years, I was neglectful of my physical condition. I was going to school, not sleeping much, working long hours, and parenting young children. Physical fitness was just not a priority. Sadly, eating was a major priority. Eating is the accepted vice of most ministers. Therefore, when these combined, at one point in my earliest ministry, I blew up to 207 pounds.

One day, it all changed. I began a major commitment to my physical condition. I started walking daily.

Years later, I began running and working out with weights. I was a sprinter in high school, not a distance runner, so running never appealed to me. However, for probably over thirty years now, I have become a consistent runner. Oh, not a true runner, more of a jogger. I don’t go fast, but I do go far and long. Anyone who has ever gone running with me knows I will probably not outpace them, but I may outlast them.

Presently, I run an hour or so a day, three to four days a week. Additionally, I work out on a Pelaton bike with trainers online and on demand, two to three days a week. This commitment is very important in my life. Even on Sunday mornings, I jog on the treadmill for an hour. While on the treadmill, I go over my message for the day, working through mastering it before delivering it publicly.

I am convinced that I could not do what I do—with my workload and life’s pressure—without this strong commitment to running, biking and conditioning. Caring for my body is very important, not only for the quality of my health, but the management of my responsibilities.

If you have read previously concerning my morning schedule, you will see that I exercise in the morning. Delayed exercise and fitness usually results in no exercise and fitness. That is why I do it in the mornings.

As I have stated in Living Fit, I cannot determine how long I live, but I can determine how well I live. Every day is a gift from God. I need to treat it as such and take the needed time for physical fitness so I can be in the best position to take my best shot for God daily.

2 REASONS I PRIORITIZE EXERCISE AND FITNESS

Let me share some reasons why I believe in exercise and fitness in my life.

Perhaps this will motivate and encourage you.

1. Taking Care of Your Body Is Biblical.

Yes, I know what the Scripture says in 1 Timothy 4:8, “For the training of the body has limited benefit, but godliness is beneficial in every way. …”

Without question, spiritual fitness is much more important than physical fitness; however, they need to be friends and companions, not enemies and competitors. Life is about priorities. I promise you, my #1 priority is my personal walk and devotion to Jesus Christ. Yet, this does not keep me from caring for my body.

The Scripture also says in 1 Corinthians 6:19, “Don’t you know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God? You are not your own.”

Therefore, if God lives in us, then we need to take care of our bodies, which is the temple and dwelling place of God in our lives. We are body, soul, and spirit, according to the Bible. Therefore, taking care of your body is biblical.

2. Exercising Your Body Is Your Spiritual Service to God.

Surely you have quoted or spoken from Colossians 3:17 in your teaching ministry. It says, “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”

Therefore, offer even your exercise and fitness as a spiritual service to God, bringing him glory as you do so. While most of the time it is not fun, it is necessary to improve your health and the conditioning of your body. In turn, it will be an asset to the quality of your life and service to God.

4 BENEFITS OF EXERCISE AND FITNESS

Let me give you these things for consideration.

Benefit #1: Exercise and fitness increase the probability of my body being in better shape, which in turn should give me a much greater ability to serve the Lord now and longer in life.

Benefit #2: Exercise and fitness provide me with opportunities to grow in my personal faith, as I use this time daily to have others pour into my life.

Technology permits me to listen to others teach, preach, and mentor me on matters of life, ministry, and leadership while I exercise.

Therefore, this is not just futile physical exercise to me, but more deeply and importantly, moments to practice and grow in godliness. I cannot even begin to tell you how much I have grown the last few years by adding this practice to my exercise and fitness.

Benefit #3: Exercise and fitness greatly reduce my stress level.

I am convinced that daily exercise and fitness helps me view life in a more positive manner because I am reducing stress. Personally, I exercise five to six days a week. I need it physically, emotionally and spiritually.

Benefit #4: Exercise and fitness improve my attitude.

Pastors deal with negativity daily. People pour their stuff upon us and when we manage it personally and do not take it to God in prayer, it affects our attitude negatively. Therefore, I promise you, exercise and fitness improve your attitude.

FINAL CHALLENGES

Pastor, here are my final challenges to you about exercise and fitness:

• Start now—do something.
• Get it done in the morning.
• Be consistent five days a week.

John Wesley stated at age 78, “By God’s blessing, I’m the same I was at 28, chiefly by constant exercise and preaching morning and evening.”

That’s tremendously encouraging to me, and I hope to you as well.

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This article was originally published on RonnieFloyd.com.