[My disclaimer to this blog: This article has high capacity to offend on deep levels if you lose the heart behind it. My heart is to tell MY story and not someone else’s. I’m not trying to point fingers but open you up to the struggle and temptation that I deal with that lies in ALL of us.]
I’m driven. But the “drivenness” I have seems to have two sides to it. One side is the passion I have for Jesus and the other side is the calling upon my life. They are intrinsically combined. I love what I do and can’t believe that I get to wake up every day doing my passion for a living. I’m driven to do it, so therefore, I struggle turning it off. What I do is I break up my schedule throughout the day (by day I mean moment I wake up till I go to sleep) so that I can step away from the “vocation” and into rest/relaxation/health.
The other side is obsessive. This is the ugly side to my “drivenness.” I get obsessive over silly little things like foods and hobbies as well on things of greater importance like people’s opinions and my dreams/ideas. To let you into my world of obsession…
– I get obsessed the church hasn’t grown enough. We’ve grown ahead of the curve BUT I can get caught up in pessimistic pastor mode.
– I get caught up in opinions and criticisms. When someone “wants to meet with me,” my mind obsesses over EVERY scenario it could be and, usually, it’s the one I didn’t think of. SMH
– Comparison with other pastors/preachers can plague my mind. In Bible College, I was told, frequently, what I lacked as far as tools and background for successful ministry. Not sure if those guys from the campus were trying to help me or hinder me. Who knows.
– Preaching NEVER leaves my mind. From the second I walk off the platform to forward planning, my mind is consumed in sermon illustrations, ideas, and future series. I just want to give God my best and, therefore, I don’t let it leave my mind.
The list could go on. But when I get obsessive, I began to think that I’m not doing enough so I throw myself into unhealthy patterns. There’s drive and there’s obsession. There’s “healthy initiative” and there’s an “all-consuming focus.”
About 10 years ago, I had an accident prepping for a youth retreat that sent me to the ER (me going to the ER as a youth pastor was no new thing). Hearing how unhealthy I was (blood pressure, cholesterol, heart rate, etc) scared the crap out of me. I was also the heaviest I had ever weighed. Being 30 and having a conversation with the doctor of that nature was sobering. I needed to do something. That something began a repentant heart. I was living like I was invincible…doing what I wanted, how I wanted, and ate what I wanted when I wanted. I forgot that my body, life, marriage, and family were gifts from God. I don’t own them. I’m a steward of them and I lost the heart of a steward.
I proceeded to make some lifestyle changes to my diet that included portion, accountability, and appropriate meal times. 6 Months and 50 lbs. later, I was looking good and feeling good. I learned to celebrate every ounce lost. My wife (home accountability) and friend (work accountability) were a tremendous support system (Anne and Leon, I can’t thank you enough). Discipline and accountability were tremendous catalysts for me.
My drive was no longer about health. It was driven by the scale. I would weigh myself multiple times a day and decide to eat in accordance. As ridiculous as that might sound to you, I was consumed in it. I didn’t care about complements per se, I wanted results that I could see and appreciate. The scale was my master. The scale was my measuring rod. As the scale went, so did my moral. It was in a place of frustration and discouragement that the Holy Spirit cornered me with a simple scripture,
You say, “I am allowed to do anything”–but not everything is good for you. And even though “I am allowed to do anything,” I must not become a slave to anything. 1 Corinthians 6:12
I was a slave to a scale. More specifically, I was a slave to results…a destination. My diet and living was no longer centered upon developing a healthy body (inside and out). 130 lbs wasn’t enough. I was consumed in the product it was producing.
Again, I lost the heart behind being a steward and this scripture was the 2×4 between the eyes I needed.
Here are 6 lessons I learned from serving the scale:
1. My security is not and cannot be found in the shape of my body but in my identity in Jesus Christ. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, in Christ I am a “new creation.” In His presence I find the fullness of joy. In my identity in Him, I find purpose. He is my comfort and my safety.
2. Jesus is my “true North.” Just like a compass always points toward North, my life (as best as I can) is lived in the direction of Jesus as the center. His Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path. He’s love must be my filter for knowing Him, understanding his Word, and relating to others. This may seem strong, but being centered around anything but Jesus is missing the mark. The bible calls it “idolatry.” Trust this person who served a scale of all things.
3. I need to love myself. Quit hating the one in the mirror. You need to see yourself “fearfully and wonderfully made” by God. That reality doesn’t eliminate us as being stewards (see #4 for that), but it keeps the proper perspective we need. The realized value we have from God helps us to love others. Jesus said the second greatest commandment was to “Love your neighbor as yourself.” The more we embrace God’s value of us, we reciprocate that to others.
4. I need to see myself as a steward (be a manager of what God has given me). It keeps me from letting my “successes” and “failures” consume my mind yet places healthy responsibility upon my shoulders. I know that, as a steward, I can’t do it under my own power but by though “Christ who gives me strength.”
5. A shaped body doesn’t equate to a healthy life. Fitting into a size doesn’t mean success. The amount of your love and the “size” of your serving matter more than your waist. It doesn’t mean that shaping your body is wrong or sinful. I’m a proponent of exercise. (1 Timothy 4:8, tells us it has value. But cultivating your identity with Christ (relationship with God) is a greater value.) It’s all about the heart behind it that determines the depth of health.
6. Living in community is a non-negotiable. My congregation has to be sick of me saying, “the enemy works in isolation; God works in community,” but it’s so true. Accountability and connection helped me lose 130 lbs. as well as helped me navigate through getting released from “the scale.” If you are hearing tough medicine from friends and relationships, please head them. If you are needing help, get into connection and accountability. You’ll be better for it and healthier from the inside out. I love the word Paul gave to the Galatian church. “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” Let someone help you. Speak up and let the Body of Christ BE the Body of Christ.
It wasn’t the easiest lesson to learn, but my focus and obsession upon Christ is a daily choice. Every day I wake up and decide to follow Him. And part of following Jesus is doing my best to make decisions that will lead to a healthy life that points people toward Him.
Celebrate Jesus. Keep your life centered upon Him. And be a steward of your body as a gift from Him.
If you need a encourager in it, all you have to do is ask.
Thanks for letting me ramble…