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Just read an interview with Mark Cornelison in the latest issue of Group Magazine (July/Aug 2012). For those of you not familiar with Mark, he was a contestant on the last season of NBC’s Biggest Loser and lost over 100 pounds. In the interview with Rick Lawrence (Editor of Group), Mark shared his struggles with weight gain and how it impacted his ministry. It’s a struggle that I’ve shared in, one that I’ve seen affect the way I serve others and over the years I’ve done my best to maintain physical health.
Currently I would say that I’m at a healthy weight; however, I wouldn’t say that qualifies me as a healthy person. There is so much that goes into being a healthy person and as youth ministers it’s easy to neglect a few habits that will help us go the long haul. To have a healthy ministry you need to have a healthy leader and to be a healthy leader means more than just being immersed in scripture and employed by a church. It means having habits that will make us stronger physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. Right now you might not struggle with your health; however, you might be:
- Sleep Deprived – How much are you sleeping? When you start out in ministry sleep isn’t as much as a concern because you can still go the distance in a lock-in. But, as you grow older, your need for sleep becomes necessary and every minute counts. A lack of sleep will lead to increased amounts of stress and even have an impact on your diet. A well rested body will perform at a higher level. (For more on sleep, click here)
- Overstimulating Your Mind – If you ever feel tired, overworked or frustrated it could be due to the fact that you are overstimulated. Chances are you don’t have downtime where you are away from a monitor, screen or phone. Downtime allows you to process problems, reflect on experiences and dream big. While our ability to access endless amounts of information is good, we do risk information overload. Don’t be afraid to turn it off. (Interesting article on the affects of computers on your brain, click here)
- Addictive Behavior – It seems like the list of addictions increases daily. There are people who struggle with food, porn, drugs, alcohol and video gaming to list a few. Is addictive behavior hereditary? Or, is it the evil one attacking us? Both? There is a lot to be figured out; however, the way we combat it is through accountability and prayer. Whether it’s a problem now, or sometime down the road, surround yourself with people who will speak truth into your life. Ask God to send them your way, because He will.
- Working Without Boundaries – A lack of boundaries is usually due to a lack of definition and discipline. You were probably hired to work 40 hours a week; however, you work 50. Boundaries also extend into our relationships. Do students invade your family time? Are you close with someone of the opposite sex in a way that wouldn’t go over well with your spouse? Again, boundaries come from clear definitions and disciplines that are communicated to yourself, your loved ones and anybody who is there to hold you accountable. When boundaries are defined you are also given margin for error.
An unhealthy youth ministry usually stems from an unhealthy leader. Whether the lack of health is physical, spiritual or emotional, if not addressed it will lead to your downfall. I’ll be honest, I’ve struggled with more than just my weight. I wish I could say my frustrations and mess ups were all due to naivety; but, that would be a lie. My hope and prayer is that you seek community and accountability to help you with your health issues. Don’t travel this path on your own.
What resources or steps have you found helpful to being a healthy leader?