For ministers of every age, some of the most important daily schedules include those that enable the pursuit of physical health and prevent the illness and disability common to ministers. Most individuals try to recreate structure from a previous period of life. Although this may seem appropriate, youth and middle-age habits often include unhealthy behaviors. Long-term persuit of a youth or middle-age health structure often leads to premature death. Many diseases and disabilities can be prevented, or at the least, slowed for decades. Preventable diseases include most forms of cancer, heart disease, stroke, osteoporosis, dementia, and depression. Although cancer, heart disease, and stroke may occur in middle-aged ministers, the risk in those over 60 years of age soars. Ministers inherently serve as an example to everyone in their community. Unlike secular individuals, successful ministry almost always requires an entirely new lifestyle, one that avoids the risk factors common to secular individuals. To learn more about the medical issues discussed below, please talk to your physician.
What are your goals for pursuing health and fitness as a ministerial lifestyle? Physical activity increases your positive outlook and helps to keep you mentally sharp (Hill, Storandt, & Malley, 1993). Fortunately, physical fitness usually results from a simple choice. Daily aerobic exercise and weight training ranks as one of the most important lifestyle choices. Brisk walking, as simple as it seems, offers one of the easiest routes to aerobic fitness. Weight training not only increases strength, but it also stimulates weight loss, reduces depression, and strengthens bones. However you do it, choose to exercise one hour per day, five days per week. Find a specific time to schedule exercise into your daily pattern. If you fail to schedule a specific time for exercise, it probably will not happen.
Ministers often assume that the diet and exercise regimen implemented in an earlier stage of life worked satisfactorily, and therefore remains adequate for latger stages of life. Nothing could be further from the truth. The risk factors associated with poor diet and lack of exercise soar about ten times higher after age 65 than during the middle age years. In short, you may survive a lifestyle characterized by poor nutrition and lack of exercise during a youthful age, but almost no one survives that lifestyle for very long as the continue to age. For instance, very few obese men survive to 80-years of age with a body mass index above 30, and none survive past 80-years of age with a body mass index above 35. Retaining a sedentary middle-age diet and exercise regimen almost guarantees physical problems associated with obesity, hypertension, heart disease, stroke, osteoporosis, and dementia. For most ministers, successful ministry means adopting an entirely new lifestyle that promotes entirely new behaviors. It is NOT a matter of implementing the new lifestyle for a short period of time to get in shape; instead, it is a matter of promoting these new behaviors for a lifetime.
A few ministers accept outdated beliefs that undermine health and fitness. One minister said, “One day less on earth due to premature death simply provides one more day with the Lord.” Such a belief fails to recognize the value of life, the joy of ministering for the Lord for as long as possible, and the joy of mentoring other humans in their spiritual walk. It fails to acknowledge truthfully that another day with the Lord seems almost meaningless when compared to eternity, while another day serving Him in ministry provides eternal benefits to others. God calls ministers to serve, not to die prematurely.
A minister friend said, “I might as well burn out in a frenzy of work because the Lord will return before I die.” The Lord may return during our lifetime, but no one can predict the time of the Lord’s return, including whether it will occur during our lifetime or 100 generations later. Meanwhile, a few individuals squander the potential of long-term ministry to justify a short-term frenzy of overwork and poor health management, all while trying to fortune-tell what remains unpredictable.
Obedience to the call of ministry includes the choice to prolong health and service as much as possible. Please reflect on your plan for health and fitness and fill in the below structure with your personal plan.
My plan for health and fitness includes:
- Good sleep patterns of:
- I will start getting ready for bed at…
- I will go to bed at…
- I will rise at…
- I will …
- I will …
- Eat a healthy, balanced diet:
- I will avoid foods such as …
- I will try to increase my intake of foods such as…
- I will try to maintain a body weight of …
- Exercise daily (M-F)—45 minutes to 1 hour of …
- I will obtain exercise through the following activities
- I will exercise at the following time of the day …
- I will try to obtain exercise accountability by enlisting the following individuals to exercise with me …
- My weekly exercise schedule will be as follows:
- I will pursue other physical activity (e.g., biking, swimming, and hiking) 1-2 times a month:
- Medication—I will take the following medication and supplements:
Federal Government Websites Providing Health-Care Related Information
Healthfinder provides a gateway site to help consumers find health and human services information quickly. Healthfinder includes links to more than 1,250 Web sites, including more than 250 federal sites and 1,000 state, local, not-for-profit, university and other consumer health resources.
MEDLINEplus is a service of the National Library of Medicine, provides a rich array of evaluated health and disease-related web resources for the consumer.
National Institute on Aging promotes healthy aging by conducting and supporting biomedical, social, behavioral research, and public education.
NIH Health Information Page provides a single access point to the consumer health information resources of the National Institutes of Health, including the NIH Health Information Index, NIH publications and clearinghouses and the Combined Health Information Database.
PubMed is a service of the National Library of Medicine, provides access to over 11 million MEDLINE citations back to the mid-1960’s and additional life science journals. PubMed includes links to many sites providing full text articles and other related resources. MEDLINE is the world’s most extensive collection of published medical information, coordinated by the National Library of Medicine.
Veterans Benefits—The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs administers many programs for veterans. See their Web site for information about benefits, facilities, programs for senior veterans, the facts about enrollment for VA health care and more. Check out their 1-Stop Service Inquiry Page.
Partners for Prescription Assistance is a prescription assistance program that brings together America’s pharmaceutical companies, doctors, patient advocacy organizations and civic groups to help low-income, uninsured patients get free or nearly free brand-name medicines.
Rx Outreach is a new Patient Assistance Program developed by Express Scripts Specialty Distribution Services, Inc. (ESSDS). The program provides USA citizens and qualified low-income individuals and families with access to generic versions of brand name medications.
U-Share is a prescription drug discount card. The U Share Prescription Drug Discount Card provides discounts on all Medicare-allowed prescription drugs for qualified individuals in the USA.
Needymeds is a patient assistance program that provides no-cost prescription medications to eligible participants in the USA.
Other Websites Providing Health-Care Related Information
© 2013 Nathan Davis