Health is a Spiritual Matter

Oct 29, 2019

By Chris Markert, Bishop’s Associate for Misison

My dear friend, I pray that all is well with you,
and that you are as healthy physically as your soul is spiritually.”
-3 John 2(INCL)

Chris Markert

Pastor Chris Markert

In April I joined a gym. This was after a surprise stay in the hospital in January. I came to realize that I have spent years not taking care of my body. I ate whatever I wanted and rarely exercised. And it finally caught up to me.

However, joining the gym wasn’t enough. It wasn’t until I started utilizing the services of a personal trainer that things began to shift for me. My personal trainer has been supportive, kind, challenging, and encouraging. He has helped me channel my attitudes about diet and exercise away from size and looks and about loving myself enough to care for my body.  My personal trainer has become an accountability partner with me as part of a total health care team that also includes my physician, spiritual director, and occasionally a mental health counselor.

And that’s the point. We all need support systems that help us practice healthy living. As the ELCA Social Statement on Health Care states, “Caring for the health of others expresses both love for our neighbor and responsibility for a just society. As a personal and social responsibility, health care is a shared endeavor.”

For pastors, deacons and other ministry leaders, this is especially important. Soulshepherding.org offers some statistics about professional church workers:

  • 70% say they do not have someone they consider a close friend;
  • 50% do not meet regularly with an accountability person or group;
  • 72% only study the Bible when preparing for sermons or lessons;
  • 21% spend less than 15 minutes a day in prayer;
  • 44% do not take a regular day off;
  • 31% do not exercise at all, while 32% exercise less than twice a week or do less than moderate exercise; and
  • 85% have never taken a Sabbatical.

So what can we do? First, if you haven’t been for an annual check-up, there’s no time like the present! And if you don’t exercise regularly, it’s a good time start (but only after consulting with your doctor). Here’s a great article for how to incorporate simple exercises during the day if you work in an office-setting.

And we all don’t need a gym or a personal trainer. Call up your neighbor or a friend to take a walk around the block and catch up on life. Or go do yoga. Or swim. Or dance in your living room in your pajamas.

And if you suffer from anxiety, undue stress or depression, or if find that you are drinking alcohol excessively or misusing drugs, get help from a therapist or a local 12-step group. If you have problems with healthy eating, join Weight Watchers, visit a dietician, or go to an Overeaters Anonymous meeting. It’s okay to ask for help— it’s a sign of strength, not weakness.

Friends, nobody’s perfect. We each go in and out of seasons of health. We get it right sometimes, and mess it up other times. And that’s all okay. We have a God who constantly woos us towards health and wholeness. And we have each other.

Here’s to your health: ¡Salud!

* For more information about spirituality and health, read Caring for Health, the ELCA Social Statement on Health Care.

* Consider coaching through LEAD for your life and ministry.