In my late teens and early twenties I was in pretty good shape. By the time I was 23 years of age I had been roofing for eight years and did a lot of the "grunt" work of carrying shingles up ladders and tearing off old roofs. I was the go to guy for all things manual labor. In addition I played basketball on weekends and lived a very active lifestyle as a part time middle school youth leader. Then something strange happened...I got into ministry full-time.
Sedentary job + torn ACL + no work out regimen = flabby young preacher. Soon I was the butt (a big one at that) of jokes by my fellow elders and pastors. I remember once being used as a sermon illustration by one of our leaders and decided enough was enough. I was only 28 years old and weighed a muscle-free 223 pounds. I walked with a limp because I never followed through on my torn ACL physical therapy. I would lose my breath just walking up a set of stairs and then I would recover by eating a cake.
I remember when I made the conscious decision that enough was enough. Slowly but surely I started making better decisions. I started going to a gym on a semi-regular basis. I mixed in more salads, held back on the Big Macs and drank more water. I cut out sugary drinks (but New York's Mayor Bloomberg didn't even call once to congratulate me!)
The fat started shredding and the muscles started building.
But, way more importantly, I felt better and had tons more energy. I didn't need any more cat naps (or, as I called them, "Fat Naps".) All in all I did my ministry duties better. I could work longer hours and get more done in those hours.
Today I'm in my late forties. While I'm no work out freak I am in way better shape than I was in my late twenties. I've seen the benefits of working out and eating right for the last few decades and am extremely grateful God spurred me to make changes.
So, with this as a backdrop, here are 10 reasons why youth leaders should get in shape physically:
1. Your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. Keep it maintained! 1 Corinthians 6:19,20
2. You'll have more energy to keep up with those crazy teenagers!
3. If you work out chances are you'll sleep better. If you sleep better chances are you'll minister better.
4. Satan often tempts us when we are at our weakest physically (Matthew 4:1-3.) Being in shape helps you stay alert!
5. It's hard to preach on "self control" to teenagers if we can't control how many trips we're taking to the buffet.
6. It will help teenagers think twice about talking smack to you :)
7. It will help you have more energy left over to minister to your family when you come home after an exhausting day.
8. It will improve your concentration and focus in times of prayer, study and meditation on God's Word.
9. You'll feel better about yourself.
10. Chances are you'll live longer to make more of a ministry impact.
I hope this article pumps ("clapping sound") you up enough to kickstart or maintain a healthy lifestyle as a youth leader.