Creating Healther Pastors

How do we avoid destroying the temple of God? It’s a question that’s relevant for us all, but it’s especially important for pastors. Stress, depression, obesity, lack of physical activity, high blood pressure, and heart disease are significant health problems for pastors. These problems influence not only the pastor’s wellbeing, but may also affect the ministry of the church.

As a little “preventive medicine,” Calvin Theological Seminary’s student senate sponsored a town hall meeting on this topic, led by Dr. Kenneth Dudley, M.D., a family physician for 25 years and associate professor of medicine at Michigan State University.

Dudley’s presentation focused on health maintenance for seminarians and showed how changes in diet and exercise can have significant effects on a person’s health and on prevention of serious medical conditions—and can even lead to longer lives and ministries.

Studies by the Lilly Endowment and by other groups concerned about pastoral effectiveness consistently cite the physical health of pastors as a key ingredient in overall ministry effectiveness and well -being.

Dudley says that instead of “destroying the temple of God” (our bodies), we can build up our bodies and the whole body of Christ by taking care of ourselves. His basic advice included: have a physical; get screening tests for major diseases; achieve your ideal weight through diet and exercise; take your medications; don’t smoke; and limit alcohol.

An audio recording of Dudley’s presentation, as well as his fact-filled PowerPoint presentation, are available on the seminary website (www.calvin seminary.edu) under Continuing Education.

Seminary attendees appreciated the presentation so much that afterward they even avoided the usual town hall cookie table!

About the Author

Kathy Smith is associate director of the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship and adjunct professor of church polity at Calvin Theological Seminary.

X