Church leaders have a stressful calling. Duh. Emergency calls at all hours of the day. Funerals. Public speaking. Sunday comes around every week. “That sermon was not quite as good as last week’s, Pastor.” No one ever says that, but we know people are thinking it.
The past two years have only increased church leaders' anxiety. We’ve compared ourselves to others. We’ve grieved the loss of friends. We don’t know where all of our people have gone. We’re trying, and we’re feeling like failures. I’ve felt it, and I am a crazy optimistic guy.
One of the largest reasons I’m still fighting the good fight of faith to multiply disciples for pre-Christians is because of my daily movement habits. Yes, the grace of God in Christ Jesus is the biggest reason I’m still hopeful for the church. Yet the Holy Spirit is daily calling me to move His temple, the body He gave me until I get a new, perfect one. When human beings stop moving, we start dying. I want to die fully alive. I don’t want more years in my life, but life in my years. I (not I, but Christ in me) want to daily steward this one body so I am able to love my family, friends, congregation, and community.
Own the Hour—Own the Day
This is not self-help mumbo jumbo. Jesus spent his mornings in deep prayer to the Father. He had to be aware of the Father’s voice as He moved through His day to pour out His life for others. Jesus walked everywhere he went. Some scholars (thanks Google) speculate He traveled 3,125 miles during His three-year ministry. He didn’t have an Apple watch with a red ring to complete. His entire life entailed physical movement.
Sometimes I wish I lived in more simple times. Technology is great until it’s not. Tech can lull
us to laziness and ungoverned habits. Our mornings can be mindless with our heads in the glowing device in our hands. Social media invites us to watch others live. Before we know it, we have to shower, grab a cup of coffee, and scoot into the office for our first meeting.
Okay, pastors, let's get real. Generally speaking, we’re not a healthy group. We’re not displaying the pinnacle of physical fitness for God’s people. I’m not writing this to induce shame. You are deeply loved by Jesus. I’m writing this to inspire you to ask for motivation to set morning habits to help you serve others, handle stress, and proclaim the Gospel for years to come.
Three Non-Negotiable Morning Routines
1. Water before Coffee
Some of you stopped reading. That was below the belt. Coffee is like a food group. I like good coffee as much as the next guy. Yet after sleeping (hopefully for at least seven hours) your body is dehydrated. Caffeine dehydrates you further. You need water. I drink 50 ounces of water to start the day, and I take my vitamins and supplements. But this may be too much water for you. Start with 20 ounces at least. You’ll feel great.
2. Move before Coffee
Now you really stopped reading. You do not have to do 20- to 30-minutes of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) like my wife and I love to do. You don’t have to spend ten minutes of stretching followed by another 15 minutes on a stationary bike (while listening to wellness podcasts or reading the Word and other good books). That is my routine. You must find
Mix it up. A ten-minute walk with early morning sunlight will make you feel so good. Five minutes of stretching with your back on the ground will make your muscles smile. Light resistance training is one of the best ways to boost immune health. Find your movement routine. If you’ve tried and failed, ask a friend to hold you accountable. Your church will thank you.
3. Meditate with Coffee
There you go. Enjoy that cup of coffee while feasting on God’s Word. Pray the Psalms. Find yourself in the stories of Jesus. Immerse yourself in the story of the early church through the Acts and the Epistles. Fall in love with the Lutheran Confessions. Pray, and let the Triune God know how grateful you are for His love!
Call to Action
Share with us in the comments some of your first-hour habits. You could also share the habits you hope to start. Let’s inspire one another to run the race with perseverance and our eyes fixed on Jesus, the author, and perfecter of our faith!
Tim’s Three Favorite Wellness Podcasts
I was mildly offended by my church team a couple of weeks ago. One of our church consultants had noticeably lost weight. During a break, some of our female staff asked what he had done to “look so good.” He talked about getting blood work done, finding foods that complimented his body, discovering he had mold allergies, and how he was growing in his understanding of the body through his favorite health and wellness podcasts. Everyone was voraciously taking notes as they’d never heard these things before. For years, I have preached in church, talked on podcasts, and spoken informally about my morning rhythms. I’ve repeatedly shared my favorite health and wellness podcasts as well. Suddenly, I felt like a Dad with teenagers. My voice had been “wah, wah, wah,” but when an outsider gave them words of wisdom, they ate it up. You can see why I was a bit offended.
Here is the kicker. The first podcast he mentioned was my favorite podcast, one I’ve mentioned numerous times. (Okay, my pity party's over.) Once more, I will share my top three health and wellness podcasts.
1. The Model Health Show with Shawn Stevenson
Shawn’s story of personal transformation is incredible. His voice is as smooth as butter. His peer-reviewed research is shared in a way for the common person to receive and implement in their daily lives. Warning: He is as frustrated as I am that the mainstream narrative around defeating Covid did not include free ways to boost immune function.
2. The Dr. Axe Show: Ancient Health Podcast
Dr. Josh Axe welcomes guests who specialize in natural remedies for illness, as well as a desire to eat what God gave us from the ground.
3. Kwik Brain with Jim Kwik
Jim’s book Limitless is one of my favorite practical reads for helping you learn, retain and recall massive amounts of information. Your brain is freaky cool. As of now, scientists have only discovered twenty percent of the knowledge to discern how the human brain works. Kwik Brain is a shorter podcast with highly applicable tools for unlocking your brain’s full potential.
What are some of your favorite health and wellness podcasts? What are the rhythms you've incorporated that have helped you to get healthy and stay well? Let's share so that others too can be healthy and stay well...all for the glory of God and for the sake of the mission of Jesus!