A Healthy Pastor is a Happy Pastor

I heard the dire warnings throughout my four years of seminary.

Build healthy habits now because you will be tempted to not take care of yourself when you enter ministry. 

I will admit that during my first two years of seminary the warnings went in one ear and immediately out the other. I knew myself better, I thought, and clearly I would be able to take care of myself once I get into ministry. That was also the worst two years of my life health wise when I reached a near 350 pounds mainly from eating out all the time. (Yes, Beckley, W.Va. native Morgan Spurlock is right.)

Eventually, I got my health back in order and was at the healthiest I had been since high school. At one point, I weighed in around 265 pounds. That’s a pretty good accomplishment in anyone’s book.

And, of course, I thought I had the game all figured out. I wouldn’t go back to my old ways, especially when I entered ministry. I would walk daily, take care of myself, and I would be able to say no to the food that would find its way near me.

I was wrong.

In the past year, I have watched my weight reach the highest it has been since March 2010 (285). This is the continuation of a two-year trend that began during a family vacation in October of that year to Tennessee. I didn’t give up my quest to get to 215, but other things seemed to be more important, right or wrong.

Recently, I have noticed that the extra weight that I am carrying has impacted my energy level. For the past couple of months, I have been tired more and just worn down. I believe it is because my body is not happy with the weight and, to be completely open and honest, prior to this week I had not walked for exercise in several weeks. I’m not proud of that.

What should I do? Should I completely give up the quest to be at a decent “wrestling weight” and embrace my current health condition? Or should I try to do something different and healthier? I’m opting for the latter.

I am committing myself to weight loss. This is the first time that I can say that since August of 2009 when I began the charge that led to the original near 90-pound weight loss. I have goals in mind and I have a way to get there.

For accountability purposes, here are my goals and desires to get to those goals.


  • 270 by the end of June.
  • Show signs of weight loss by Annual Conference (June 10).
  • 240 by Christmas.

These goals are not as ambitious as I set out for myself in 2009. At that time, I was in seminary and it was easier to find time to walk. I walked to class daily and carried a 15-pound backpack. That helped. I have to take into consideration the nature of my appointment and the fact that it may take a little longer to get to where I want to be this time.

Desires to Reach those Goals

  •  Restaurants on the banned list: Zaxby’s, Canes, McDonald’s, and Wendy’s. (An exception will be made if I go to meet someone or to do work, and in those cases I will limit my purchases to a salad or a drink. Gone are the days of the chicken finger baskets, even though they are so delicious.)
  • No more Diet Coke in the house for the time being.
  • Eating at least one meal a week that is a salad.
  • Walking daily before working on ministry-related tasks.
  • Grill more and fry food less.

With these goals and health changes, I am hopeful that it will make a difference in my complete health. I want to be healthy not just for myself and for Abbi, but also for the people I am called to shepherd. How can I be an effective pastor if I do not have the energy to lead and guide them?

Hopefully, I can reach my goals. If nothing else, I hope to just remain healthier than I was several years ago.


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