I’m Jealous of the #HealthyPreacherMovement

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    Preachers are getting in shape. Social media is littered with pictures of preachers exercising to get or keep their weight under control and live healthy lives. Way cool!

    In the crucible of my schedule, I often neglect to maintain a healthy diet and exercise regimen. But the noted milestones of exercising preachers challenge me to “get it in,” as they say.

    I once read about a preacher who worked himself to death. On his deathbed, he lamented, “God gave me a message and a horse. I have killed the horse! What will happen to the message?”

    I think of this story often these days.

    Of course, the message will continue to go forth without us. But we should be faithful stewards of our bodies to be faithful stewards of the opportunity we have to herald the word of God.

    Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. – 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

    These words are often cited to impress upon us the priority of physical health. This is an appropriate application of Paul’s words. But it is not the primary point of necessary implication of the passage. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 exhorts us to be holy, not healthy.

    Physical exercise has its place (unless it is done out of personal vanity). But God is more concerned about the spiritual health of the inner man than the physical health of the outer man. Paul instructs…

    Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. – 1 Timothy 4:7-8

    For this reason, I am jealous of the #HealthyPreacherMovement.

    I see preachers encourage one another to get in shape and celebrate healthy lifestyle choices. It motivates me to do better. It also makes we wish we did more to encourage one another to holiness of lifestyle, fidelity of doctrine, and unity of fellowship.

    Friends push me to take care of myself so I will have many years to preach the gospel. I appreciate the concern. But for every preacher you hear about dying in the pulpit because of obesity, there are scores more stories of preachers who lose their pulpits because of the destructive forces of sex, money, and power.

    As a young preacher, I heard it said that another preacher can be your best friend or your worst enemy. I thought that was a cynical statement. Unfortunately, I found it to be true over the years. May the Lord help to be better friends to one another. And remember your best friends are the ones that make you better.

    There are stresses and struggles in ministry we cannot share with members of our churches. But we need other preachers we can be honest with, share our hurts with, and pray with. (This should come after spiritual partnership with our wives, of course.)

    This kind of fellowship, counsel, and accountability should transcend ministry issues. We need people in our lives to ask us tough questions about our personal lives. Then they should ask, “Is any part of the answer you just gave me a lie?”

    We need a #HolyPreacherMovement!

    It does not need to be broadcast on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. But we need an underground movement to challenge one another to live our message so we do not become ministerial casualties that give the Bride of Christ a black eye.

    Practice these things immerse yourself in them so that all may see your progress. Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers. – 1 Timothy 4:15-16


    H.B. Charles Jr.

    Pastor-Teacher at the Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church of Jacksonville and Orange Park, Florida.