Friday, 5 October 2012

Obesity and Christian Leadership

Pizza nights, Slurpee runs, late night runs to McDonald's, loads of chips and pop. 
These sound like some of the awesome things that make a fellowship fun in youth ministry. Donuts, coffee, pie, potlucks, these are the things that make church fellowship excellent.

Looks gross, but we've all had those weeks
People bond over food and drinks. Look at your house, people congregate around the kitchen. Look at a party, people are where the food is.

I don't know about you, but I love food. Now I don't think you could call me a true foodie (largely because I'll eat anything from fast food to fancy food) but you can certainly bet that if something delicious is out I'm not far away.

As a youth pastor I am constantly around junk food, and pop. I love the stuff, but I have to resist eating it.  This past January I was hit with the harsh reality that I was seriously overweight. I had always known I was a little on the "husky side" but I had pushed beyond that and gone into a category all of its own "obese". Now I hate the word, because many people can't get around it but the fact of the matter is that I hit that level on a medical chart. So I decided I would do something about, I started exercising more and trying to eat better. Since January of last year I have lost 35lbs, slipping back down into the category of "overweight". That isn't crazy fast weight loss, but it is great because I have still been eating what I want( for the most part) and I haven't regained even when my exercise or eating have spun back out of control for a day or week or two.

So why am I talking about this. I am not talking about it because I want praise, I am not talking about it because I think that I have gone from HUGE to tiny. I am talking about it because when I look around at the many youth pastors and church staff I know as a whole, I see a lot of overweight people. We have a calling to work with people, our jobs require us to be at a desk often working, studying, emailing and praying. These are parts of the job that are required, so we can't put them off. But what is going on with our waistlines. Its scary they are ever growing!

I feel like it needs to be said: "Youth workers, Pastors, friends we need to lose some weight". There are a few reasons why I think we need to lose it:

1) We are called to be good stewards in life
 This is a stewardship of our ministry, our family life, our money and yes even our own bodies. If we don't take care of our bodies, we are actually hampering our ministry. Whether we like to admit it or not, being overweight will eventually cause what we eat to come back to bite you. (pun intended). We will have health problems directly relating to our eating and body weight.

2)  We are examples to those we work with 
 We are examples to the people we work with. As christian leaders we strive to show good habits of reading scripture, worshipping God, treating people with respect and leading a life of health and balance. But when it comes to the pastors I know, we often have a bit of a problem with eating and self control. If we want to be good examples, we should strive to have balance in every aspect of life.

3) For your Families sake
Do it for your wife, your husband, your kids or your grandchildren. I currently have no kids but I do have a wife and my weight directly affects her. It affects her in my level of energy, since I have been exercising more and eating better I have had more energy to go do fun things with her. And I have even been able to serve her better because I've been cleaning and cooking with some of my spare energy!( I'll tell you that she loves it!)
While I am still young I can't help but think of the long term, I hope to be a healthy and active grandparent one day. I look at my grandfather and because of obesity we never went out and did much together. But when I look at my wife's one set of grandparents they are in their 80's and go hiking weekly and we go sailing together often during the summer. It is truly a joy that I hope to be able to experience when I am in my 80's.
If I don't take care of myself now though, I certainly won't have the health and fitness to be able to go for fun trips with my grand kids when they are in their 20's.

I think we should start a challenge amongst the Christian Leadership network for weight loss. Let's get the ball rolling.



  1. Wow, great writing on a gutsy topic. Props to you on your own behaviour...props for sending out a challenge. Let's see where it can go.

  2. Thanks Jamey, I think it is a topic that is neglected because it runs so rampant. I mean food is good, not exercising is easy, letting your mentally slip is easier than dealing with the realities. I hope many people are able to take it to heart so that we can see it go somewhere.

  3. Replies
    1. Thanks! Glad you stopped in for the read and enjoyed it