Clergy Physical Vitality
Wellness is one of the vital components of what it means to be a vital leader. As clergy we hold the solemn task of representing God’s presence at some of the most critical and life changing moments in the lives of those whom we serve. At the same time, the high expectations and demands of pastoring put clergy at a high risk for health threatening worry and stress. Consequently, Randy Maddox of Duke Divinity School, a John Wesley scholar, said that Wesley warned his clergy and lay preachers, “You won’t be able to carry on your ministry unless you take care of yourself”.
Clergy who take proactive and preventative measures to attend to their spiritual, emotional, and physical health tend to remain better anchored during the intensities and pressures of pastoral demands. Healthy pastors, tend to promote healthy churches. Maddox goes on to say, “Wesley was very direct in letters to his lay preachers and clergy colleagues, charging them to care for themselves, to make sure they got enough exercise, good diet, proper sleep.” In his John Wesley’s ground-breaking and best-selling book (for that era) called the Primitive Physick, Wesley suggested that “Through a careful observation of sensible regimen, the individual could translate the concept of stewardship of life into the concrete practice of health care.” Wesley said “A due degree of exercise is indispensably necessary to health and long life”. (John Wesley, Primitive Physick, 1747. Phillip W. Ott, Journal of Religion and Health, Volume 30, No.1 Spring 1991) In effect, Wesley was concerned about clergy wellness.
Seeking self-care and wellness is one of the vital qualities of missional clergy leaders recently adopted by our Conference. Clergy care is a vital component of our emphasis upon one of the four areas of focus of the United Methodist Church, which is, developing principled Christian leaders for the church and the world. The work of Leadership Vitality in the Mission Vitality Center is designed to promote health and wellness through the Clergy Wellness program.