Management guru Ken Blanchard, who is a Christian, highlights the importance of staying healthy. As we work, we tend to neglect our health and life. The problem is that when we become unhealthy, we become worse employees and our work suffers. If you’re the boss of a company, you pay out more money for employee medical issues and productivity drops. Your whole company suffers.
Blanchard reminds us to take care of our life to ensure we remain productive in our work. This is very important for those in ministry, especially pastors and missionaries. He notes that “even success could kill you” (p. 19)! Firstly, we need to recognise that some stress is good. Too much stress leads to Burn-out while too little stress leads to Rust-out. Neither is ideal. Blanchard wisely notes that “in early life, people give up their health to gain wealth. Then, in later life, they give up some wealth to regain health.” (p. 70) Don’t reach that stage!
The question is how do we deal with stress such that it doesn’t become strain (burn-out or illness)? There are four moderators to make sure we are in good shape: 1) Autonomy, 2) Connectedness, 3) Perspective, and 4) Tone (p. 32).
- Autonomy is the state where people have many choices and relatively able to control their lives. They find that their daily activities move them towards achieving their goals. Also it is the ability to move to other jobs if we want to. I think we need to learn to set goals, vision and improve our skill sets regularly.
- Connectedness gives people strong positive relationships in their home, work and community. It’s important to have good friends and support. This would preferably be a Christian group in your church or workplace to offer mutual support whether it be through exercising together or not tempting each other with unhealthy food.
- Perspective has to do with the meaning of life. If we have a big picture view of life, the little stresses don’t affect us so much. For Christians, we know our approval is from God and that earthly gains have no eternal significance. Our work should not define or control us. Someone once said, “No one on his deathbed ever said, I wish I had spent more time on my work.”
- Tone is how we feel about our body and physical appearance. We can manage this through exercise and a proper diet. Having a healthy body improves our self-esteem and reduces stress. The tone is the easiest to start with as we can measure the number of kilometers we jog or the number of push-ups we perform. Blanchard notes that when we take care of ourselves, we are then better able to focus on other’s needs better (connectedness).
There are some simple ways to stay healthy (p. 50-51):
- I love my job/studies.
- I use safety precautions.
- I am within 5 pounds of my ideal weight.
- I know three methods to reduce stress (not drugs or alcohol).
- I do not smoke.
- I sleep 6-8 hours each night.
- I engage in regular physical activity at least 3 times per week (20-30 mins of sustained physical exertion). Stick to your program!
- I have 7 or less alcoholic drinks a week.
- I know my blood pressure.
- I follow sensible eating habits.
- I have a good social support system.
- I maintain a positive mental attitude.
I think as church workers, we tend to over-indulge in food. Gluttony is a sin that is not condemned in churches enough (Prov 23:2,20-21; Phil 3:9; 1 Cor 6:19-20). I know a pastor who is severely overweight and had to undergo a back and knee surgery due to the strain on his body. He took a long medical leave as a result. Sadly, his unhealthy diet hasn’t changed. What a shame it is to let your uncontrolled love for food shorten your ability to do ministry! How would you explain to God if you meet him ten years earlier than you were supposed to die? Let us stay healthy so we can do more for the Lord’s work.