Optimal Spiritual Health

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

I had a great time on the 200churches podcast with Jeff Keady. 

Jeff and I spent a good chunk of our time talking about the health of pastors. I think it is very important for shepherd leaders to be wholly healthy because we cannot give to our flocks what we don’t possess ourselves. 

One of the things that is very interesting to me is the parallels between maintaining our physical health and maintaining our spiritual health. When it comes right down to it, our physical health can be optimized by getting a handle on four key elements: (1) proper diet, (2) regular exercise, (3) appropriate rest and recovery, and (4) regular times of evaluation and adjustment. 

Our spiritual health is optimized with these same four elements. 

As my friend Josh Schram reminded me, “Health is not just a big one-time choice. Health is small daily choices.” Jesus made these daily choices to eat well, exercise regularly, rest when needed, and make the adjustments His Father spoke to His heart. He set us an example for healthy spiritual growth that will keep us in a place to grow our shepherd leadership capacities. 

I have found that we are much more likely to make and stick to a plan to get physically healthy when we have a workout friend or someone who is holding us accountable. The same is true for our spiritual health. So pastor, don’t try to get and stay healthy on your own, but get a trusted friend or two working out alongside you. 

In my book Shepherd Leadership, I have five chapters that focus on a leader’s mental, physical, spiritual, and relational health. I hope you will pick up a copy to help you operate at peak healthiness. 

If you want to catch up on some of the other clips I’ve already shared from this interview, you can find them here, and I’ll be sharing more clips from this 200churches interview soon, so please stay tuned. Shepherd Leadership: The Metrics That Really Matter is available in print or ebook, and in audiobook through either Audible or Apple. 

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Thursdays With Spurgeon—God Our Healer

This is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Charles Spurgeon. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Spurgeon” in the search box to read more entries.

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

God Our Healer

O Lord my God, I cried out to You, and You healed me. O Lord, You brought my soul up from the grave; You have kept me alive, that I should not go down to the pit. (Psalm 30:2-3) 

     God is the best Physician, even for our bodily infirmities. We do very wickedly and foolishly when we forget God. It was a sin in Asa that he trusted physicians and not God (2 Chronicles 16:12). If we must have a physician, let it be so, but still let us go to our God first of all. And above all remember that there can be no power to heal in medicine of itself; the healing energy must flow from the divine hand. …

     If our watch is out of order, we take it to the watchmaker; if our bodies or souls are in an evil plight, let us resort to Him who created them, who has unfailing skill to put them in right condition. As for our spiritual diseases, nothing can heal these evils but the touch of the Lord Christ: if we do but touch the hem of His garment, we shall be made whole….

From Spurgeon And The Psalms

God has created us as a soul with a body. I believe that physical ailments can be attended to by a medical doctor, emotional distress should be addressed by a counselor, and spiritual issues should have the wisdom of a pastor. 

But let’s always remember that since God created our body, soul, and spirit, He is the Ultimate Source of wisdom for any areas that are out of alignment. So as Spurgeon says, seek out a doctor, counselor, or pastor, but go to God first. 

God may bring divine healing that requires no other intervention, or He may heal through medicine or counseling, but ultimately He is THE Healer.

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Practical Health Questions

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

I had a great time on the 200churches podcast with Jeff Keady. 

Jeff wanted to know if I had a favorite chapter in my book Shepherd Leadership: The Metrics That Really Matter. That’s an easy question to answer because it is the chapter I didn’t write—the Preface of the book was written by Dick Brogden and sums up my book better than I could have on my own. 

But there is a chunk of five chapters in Shepherd Leadership that I keep going back to quite frequently. This section is also one that has resonated with other leaders who coach and counsel pastors. 

Dr. Luke summarized the wholly healthy development of Jesus in just one verse: And Jesus grew in wisdom, in stature, in favor with God, and in favor with men (Luke 2:52). I think this gives us the perfect pyramid for our healthy growth—

  • It starts with our mental health (wisdom) 
  • Which helps us make good decisions for our physical health (stature)
  • Which creates an ideal environment for our spiritual health to flourish (favor with God)
  • Which is ultimately realized in our relational health (favor with men) 

This is why, when I am coaching other pastors that are struggling with relationships with their board or parishioners, I start with…

Oftentimes the answers to these questions reveal a deficit in mental, physical, or spiritual health that is preventing a breakthrough in strong, healthy relationships. As soon as health is being restored at the lower levels of this pyramid, positive changes in spiritual and relational health begin to blossom as well. 

Pastor, please pick up a copy of my book to help you get into the healthiest place you can be. You cannot give health to the flock under your care if you are not at optimal health yourself. 

If you want to catch up on some of the other clips I’ve already shared from this interview, you can find them here. I’ll be sharing more clips from this 200churches interview soon, so please stay tuned. Shepherd Leadership: The Metrics That Really Matter is available in print or ebook, and in audiobook through either Audible or Apple.

►► Would you please prayerfully consider supporting this ministry? My Patreon supporters get behind-the-scenes access to exclusive materials. ◀︎◀︎

Dehydrated

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

I just came back from California where drought-like conditions cause residents a lot of concern—wildfires, crop failure, what happens if too much rain falls too quickly? Being dry causes people a lot of stress. 

Most people live under-hydrated, if not dehydrated. Depending upon the size of the person, the amount of water in the human body makes up 55-75%. That means that when we don’t get enough water, many complications can arise. So if you struggle with…

  • …headaches, don’t take a Tylenol, but trying drinking more water 
  • …bad breath, don’t swish mouthwash, but trying drinking more water 
  • …being tired, don’t guzzle caffeine, but trying drinking more water 
  • …gut problems, don’t pop an Alka-Seltzer or milk of magnesia, but trying drinking more water 
  • …bags under your eyes, don’t get botox, but trying drinking more water 

The introduction to Psalm 143 only says, “A psalm of David,” but nothing about his actual predicament. But we can see the things that were weighing heavy on David: 

  • he pleaded for mercy, which means not getting the punishment he deserved (vv. 1-2) 
  • enemies were pursuing him (v. 3) 
  • he felt faint in spirit and dismayed in heart (v. 4) 
  • he had a failing spirit (v. 7) 
  • he was lost, asking God to “show me the way” (v. 8) 
  • he prayed for God to “preserve my life…bring me out of trouble” (v. 11) 
  • he felt the slander of his enemies (v. 12) 

All of this must have led to David feeling emotionally and spiritually—if not even physically—dehydrated. 

We have said there are three definitions for Selah, but I think the context of this chapter clearly limits it to just one definition: a pause to reflect. David’s Selah in this psalm is actually a quadruple Selah! A dehydrated David reminds himself and us to…

  • remember or recall to mind 
  • meditate or speak to yourself (also see Psalm 42:5-6) 
  • consider—some translations use the word “muse,” a word meaning an inner conversation, including airing our complaints 
  • Selah—the call to “pause and calmly think of that,” as the Amplified Bible defines that word  

All of these things pressing in on David were getting his full attention, so he forgot to drink deeply of the Living Water of God. As a result, David was dehydrated. This is why he calls for that quadruple Selah to be refreshed. 

But what if there are so many problems around us that we cannot even think of anything that we can “drink” from God? What if there are so many troubles that we don’t know what to thank Him for? 

Let me point you to a tiny preposition: IN in vv. 8, 9 (and also in Psalm 42:5-6). David is not saying he has to get a drink, but that he has to go IN to the Source of Living Water. 

Rejoice IN the Lord (Philippians 4:4) and Trust IN the Lord (Isaiah 26:4). As a result, God will then keep us IN His peace (Isaiah 26:3; Philippians 4:7). [Check out all of these verses by clicking here.]

This is what I think David spoke to himself in his remembering, meditating, and considering—in his inner conversations. Let the morning bring me word of Your unfailing love, for I have put my trust IN You. Show me the way I should go, for to You I entrust my life (Psalm 143:8). 

When you’re dehydrated, it’s hard to think of things to be thankful for, but we can look to the unchangeable attributes of God. David did this and it helped him with his actions and attitude: 

God’s love is unfailing so we can rely on Him (v. 8a)
God’s omniscience is infinite so we can trust His leading (v. 8b)
God’s omnipotence is unmatched so we can be secure in Him (v. 9)
God’s sovereign wisdom is unrivaled so we can confidently obey and follow Him (v. 10)
God’s eternal glory is unending so we can have eternal hope (v. 11)
Again David notes that God’s love is unfailing so we can continue to fearlessly serve Him (v. 12), which takes us right back to the opening two verses of this psalm

The Selah time allowed David to make these connections, or rather, it allowed him the quiet time to drink in the Holy Spirit’s reminders of these attributes of God. David always knew who God was, but in his time of dehydration his Selah re-reminded Him of who God was to him. 

When we are feeling dehydrated, we must Selah to drink deeply of the Living Water. This Selah pause plunges us INTO God’s presence and allows us to make His attributes personal.  

If you’ve missed any of the messages in our Selah series, you can find the complete list of them by clicking here. 

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Sabbathing For Pastors

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

During a Bible study I was recently leading, I was asked how a pastor finds a day to set aside as a Sabbath day. This is tricky for pastors because Sunday is usually considered a “workday” for us. And even if we can take a “day off” there are still people who need to speak with us.  

Being able to Sabbath is vital for all leaders, but especially for pastors. I spend five chapters in my book Shepherd Leadership talking about the mental, physical, spiritual, and relational health of pastors. If you are a pastor, I encourage you to pick up a copy of my book. If you love your pastor, please get a copy for him or her. 

I was recently interviewed on the Thriving In Ministry podcast specifically on the topic of sabbathing, you can listen to that interview here. You can also check out some other blog posts I’ve written about sabbathing by clicking here.

►► Would you please prayerfully consider supporting this ministry? My Patreon supporters get behind-the-scenes access to exclusive materials. ◀︎◀︎

Sabbathing For Health

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

I had a great time on the Ailbe Podcast with Rusty Rabon. 

Rusty wanted to dig a little deeper into the five chapters I wrote about a shepherd’s health. Quite simply, we cannot give to others what we do not possess ourselves, so if the shepherd isn’t mentally, physically, spiritually, and emotionally healthy, he cannot give health to the sheep under his care. 

Rusty and I specifically chatted about what Jesus did to remain at optimal physical health, because as I point out, without physical health it’s hard to be healthy in any of the other areas.  

As I mentioned, in Shepherd Leadership: The Metrics That Really Matter I take five chapters to unpack all of the various aspects of a leader’s health, along with some practical steps anyone can take. I’d also encourage you to check out this post on how Jesus practiced sabbathing during His earthly ministry. 

I’ll be sharing more clips from this interview soon, so please stay tuned. If you would like to check out the other clips I have already shared, they are located here, here, here, and here. Shepherd Leadership: The Metrics That Really Matter is available in print or ebook, and in audiobook through either Audible or Apple. 

►► Would you please prayerfully consider supporting this ministry? My Patreon supporters get behind-the-scenes access to exclusive materials. ◀︎◀︎

A Leader’s Health

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

I had a great time on the Ailbe Podcast with Rusty Rabon.

Rusty noted how I had used the description of the early life of Jesus from Luke’s Gospel—And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man (Luke 2:52)—and then how I created a pyramid of health for shepherd leaders to follow. 

I think that Dr. Luke, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, listed those four items in a very specific order. It begins with the growth of our mind, which helps us make healthy choices for our physical body, which allows us to concentrate on our spiritual growth. But ultimately the real proof of our God-honoring healthiness is seem in how we interact and react with other people. 

In my book Shepherd Leadership: The Metrics That Really Matter I take five chapters to unpack the various aspects of a leader’s health, and I offer some practical first steps for anyone to address areas where their health is not at its best. 

I’ll be sharing more clips from this interview soon, so please stay tuned. Shepherd Leadership: The Metrics That Really Matter is now available in print or ebook, and in audiobook through either Audible or Apple. 

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Wholly Healthy Leaders

Have you ever heard someone describe Jesus as “healthy”? 

Dr. Luke noticed how completely healthy Jesus was—mentally, physically, spiritually, and relationally—and then told us how we, too, can be wholly healthy. 

Leaders, you cannot give to others what you do not possess yourself. If you want the people around you to be healthy, you must first get healthy yourself. 

I have five chapters in Shepherd Leadership: The Metrics That Really Matter where I talk about a leader’s health.

The Importance Of Margin

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

I had a great time on the Thriving In Ministry podcast with Kyle Willis and Dace Clifton. 

Jesus demonstrated an important principle for all leaders: In order for us to lead effectively over a long period of time, leaders must be healthy. Jesus showed us His mental, physical, spiritual, and emotional health. 

In my discussion with Kyle and Dace, we talked about the value of creating margins in our life to keep us at our full potential.  

I have five chapters in my book Shepherd Leadership: The Metrics That Really Matter where I dive deep into how leaders can work on being wholly healthy. I encourage you to check it out. You can also check out a short clip from a recent Craig And Greg Show episode where we discuss the importance of self-care.  

I’ll be sharing more clips from this Thriving In Ministry interview soon, so please stay tuned. Shepherd Leadership: The Metrics That Really Matter is available in print or ebook, and in audiobook through either Audible or Apple.

►► Would you please prayerfully consider supporting this ministry? ◀︎◀︎

9 Quotes From “A Spiritual Clinic”

J. Oswald Sanders gives Christians just the check-up we need in his hard-hitting and highly practical book A Spiritual Clinic. You can read my full book review by clicking here. 

“The greater our weakness, the greater glory will be God’s as we work in His power.” 

“We are busier than God intends us to be if we are too busy to take time for relaxation.” 

“It is characteristic of the earthly mind that it always covets the service of others: it desires to avoid toil and drudgery. This is one of the factors which makes wealth so desirable—it can secure the service of others. The mind of Christ manifested itself in His words: ‘I am among you as He that serves’ (Luke 22:27). ‘The Son of Man came not to be ministered to, but to minister’ (Matthew 20:28). It was His delight to be servant of all.” 

“How are we to obtain the mind of Christ? … Is not the secret hinted at in the exhortation, ‘Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus’? It is the work of Another. Is not the supreme work of the Holy Spirit to reproduce in the yielded believer the inner disposition of Christ? What is the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) but the mind of Christ? As we willingly consent to the crucifixion of the earthly mind and purposefully yield to the sanctifying influences of the Holy Spirit, He will perform the miracle. Our minds will be transformed in ever-increasing degree by the renewing of the Holy Spirit.” 

“Nothing so tends to inflate a man with a sense of his own importance as the possession of great gifts of intellect and the enjoyment of special and unusual experiences. And there is nothing which more surely disqualifies from spiritual usefulness than spiritual pride.” 

“It will be recalled that the favored three disciples were not permitted to encamp on the Mount of Transfiguration. They must exchange the vision glorious for the convulsions of a demon-possessed boy. So must Paul descend into the valley if he is to be God’s messenger to a distraught humanity. He must learn that the mountain is only as high as the valley is deep. The higher he ascends in spiritual experience, the more deeply must he be identified with his crucified Lord.” 

“Even God’s honored servants cannot break His physical laws with impunity, nor are they immune from the onslaught of despondency. … We must seek physical and spiritual renewal if we are not to be put to flight by our enemy. If we shift our center from God to self, even for a period, we lay ourselves open to this malady of the spirit.” 

“Discouragement over the apparent failure of our best efforts, if not met with the shield of faith, will react disastrously on our spirits and degenerate into self-pity and despair.” 

“We seldom give God time to deal with us radically and deeply. Even when we experience conviction of failure and sin, we do not allow the Holy Spirit to work in us so strongly that we are brought to hate the sin. We lightly assent to our sinfulness without seriously and permanently dealing with it. We act as though new results would take the place of heart repentance and renunciation. [see Hosea 6:4] 

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