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December 13, 2001
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)--After sharing my journey toward a healthier lifestyle in Baptist Press and the January issue of Facts & Trends, a publication of LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention, I received a letter from a LifeWay employee.
This employee's brother, a pastor, was overweight, short of breath and working too hard. Unfortunately, he did not get help and he died before reaching the age of 50. With the permission of this employee, I am including excerpts from his letter in the hope that his story will encourage others to take action before it's too late.
"My brother's death was, in part, the result of too many good intentions and good deeds in his ministry. He had too many extra servings at church dinners, lest he hurt a member's feelings; too many late-night hospital visits; too many church duties performed that could have been left undone or taken over by lay leaders.
"For those who have read your story but fail to see the need to adjust their lifestyles, I hope they at least will give thought to doing these simple things:
"1. Listen to the concerns of loved ones. Wives, children and friends know you better than you know yourself. Strange as it may sound, sometimes we're too close to our own bodies to recognize the results of unhealthy choices and practices. Don't make the wrong choices by denying what is so evident to others.
"2. Set limits on how much time to give to ministry demands that deny you time to rest. You are human, not a ministerial Superman. You must find the balance between being an effective minister for God and an obedient child of his who respects and cares for the temple he has given you.
"3. Discipline yourself to eat a more healthy diet and to become more active. Be the best example you can be for others in the way you care for your body by eating properly and becoming more physically active.
"To those pastors who want to deny the potential effects of living an unhealthy lifestyle, let me remind them that my brother did not have to die as he did. Who knows how many sermons were left unpreached, children unbaptized and families unreached because of his early death.
"People who attended the memorial service for my brother filled the sanctuary and the fellowship hall, leaving only standing room. At the time, seeing how many lives he had touched was wonderful, and that is how we'll remember him. But I would like to tell other ministers who are on the same path he took, if you don't want the crowning achievement of your ministry to be the largest funeral your town has ever seen, listen to the concerns of loved ones. The lesson of my brother's untimely death is, it could be you, but it doesn't have to be."
If you need to take action regarding your own life, I pray that you will do so now. If you know a minister who needs help, ask God for the courage to speak a word of loving encouragement for change.
For earlier stories on Draper & wellness:Fitness can affect witness, ministry, Jimmy Draper saysFIRST-PERSON: Finish the race well and in good health