Well, this post is ironic. I began writing this almost a week ago and in the midst of trying to finish it up and get it posted, I got sick and couldn’t get things together to get it done. Over the past week, my personal and devotional readings have reminded me of the need and importance of spiritual and physical rest. So this is a timely post, if for nothing else, as a personal reminder of the importance for rest and health. Now, on the the post I started last week.
As I woke up this morning and stumbled my way to the coffee machine, I happened to check my social media. I don’t really like to do that before sitting down and having my quiet time with Jesus in the morning, but I did. I came across this story about a pastor and mental health advocate, Jarrid Wilson, who had committed suicide on Monday, September 9th. Jarred was only 30 years old, Husband to Julianne and the father of 2 little boys. He served on staff at Harvest Christian Fellowship, a megachurch in Riverside, California. You can read that article here. Both mental health and physical health are two “touchy” subjects within the church that both, in my opinion, need to be better understood. While this is not necessarily a writing about mental health specifically, what you are about to read does deal directly with the health of those who serve in large and small churches across America. No one in church leadership is exempt from health issues, both physical and mental, which many times (although not always) end up paired together hand in hand. However, because we have a passion in “whole-listic” health, my wife and I believe we are on the right path and have been given a few tools to help deal with both sides of those “health coins”, especially for those in ministry. I am deeply saddened for the loss of a “passionate preacher” like Jarrid, but there are still so many more out there that are facing similar personal health issues that could hinder them from serving Christ to their fullest potential. We will continue to lift up Jarrid’s loved ones in prayer who are left behind to pick up the pieces in the wake of his death.
In the next few moments, I want to fill you in on a bit of research that has been done on both the mental and the physical health of pastors in America. Again, I speak of both because many times they can feed off of one another. According to Network (https://network.crcna.org/disability-concerns/clergy-mental-health), the number of pastors diagnosed with clinical depression was double the national average, 45% sought advice from their family doctor regarding stress and anxiety issues and nearly one-fourth (23%) of pastors acknowledge they have personally struggled with a mental illness and half of those pastors say the illness has been diagnosed. While your pastor may be a great communicator, friend, spiritual mentor or even a great husband/wife, health issues are real!
Now there is still the topic of physical health that pastors deal with on a day to day basis. In a recent study that focused on United Methodist pastors from a LifeWay.com article entitled Pastors Face A Growing Health Crisis “United Methodist pastors involved in the studies have higher cholesterol, higher rates of asthma, and more hypertension than other Americans, according to the researchers. The cause appears to be obesity. Forty-one percent of United Methodist pastors are obese… compared to 29 percent of all Americans. And it’s not just Methodists who are overweight. The health risks for pastors are the same in most denominations.” The article goes on to say, “There really is an obesity epidemic among clergy. When you talk to the people who provide insurance for clergy in other denominations, they all say the same things.” Obesity isn’t the only risk factor for pastors. Stress, depression, and financial worries also take their toll.
Did you catch that first statistic? 41% of United Methodist pastors are obese. 41%! In the Nazarene denomination that I am serving, I would echo that number. While that number is surprising, the number of pastors that deal with other health issues are also alarming. Another study of South Carolinian African Methodist Episcopal pastors, “A majority of pastors were overweight or obese (93%) with hypertension (68%); half had two or more chronic health conditions, 35% had high cholesterol, 30% arthritis, and 20% diabetes. On average, pastors had a waist circumference that put them at an increased risk for disease.” How do we combat those statistics? How do we in ministry keep from becoming another number in a study? Most of us preach, speak, teach about the spiritual wellbeing of our congregation or flock but feel like if we talk about health matters we fear that we may step on peoples toes. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 says “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.” I truly believe our temples include not only the heart and mind, but also the physical mind and physical body! But, if our bodies are to be the temple where the Lord is to dwell, used for His kingdom and for us to be His hands and feet, shouldn’t we encourage each other to maintain that temple?
In 2013, Tiffany and I learned about a company that has literally changed our lives. At this point, you’re probably thinking that this is where this becomes an advertisement or commercial. It is not. Please continue reading as I explain. This is yet another tool that is part of the greater story AND this is how we see God working to help restore pastors and their families physically as well as partially fund the vision of Restoration Farm. The company is Shaklee. The corporation was founded by Dr. Forrest Shaklee in 1956 and is the Number One Natural Nutrition Company in the United States. Dr. Shaklee experienced the “power of nature” in his own life, and wanted to share that power of “God’s pharmacy” (God’s created nature) with others. That “others” included us some 60 years later. As we began taking their products in 2013, we noticed some major positive health differences in our family. Please understand, in 2013 I was a youth pastor of a medium/small church, I was the only one earning an income as my wife was a stay-at-home mom to our boys. Money wasn’t something that we had much extra of, but we knew that (for our health sake) we had to do something. Although there are many ways the health of our family was transformed, here is my wife’s personal health testimony ….
I was sick. So very, very sick and I was crying out to Jesus desperately for an answer. I was a mom of two just trying to survive each day and fake my way through so I wouldn’t concern everyone. During AutoImmune, Neurological and cardiovascular testing I was not living what I would consider a “quality life”. Rheumatic Fever as a teenager set my body into a spiral that has been quite the journey of recovering from and one that I still continue to walk.
Over the many years of this journey, along with His incredible hand, the Lord has blessed me with so many tools in my belt to begin turning my body & mind around. Between a couple incredible doctors, a nutritionist and the gift of amazing supplementation my life has become more and more of that “quality life” I’ve been striving for.
I had tried a gamut of different kinds of therapy, medicines and even thorough supplementation. When I was introduced to Shaklee I heard one of their mottos “Changing brands can change your life”. My thoughts were “yea right”. So I set out to prove yet another system wrong… only this time, I was proved wrong. Within two weeks I started to notice little differences and as time went on, more and more differences. After a year or so of implementing these supplements into my day, during one of my doctors visits she looked at me and said “you’re a walking miracle my friend and you should be in a wheelchair”.
While I am not claiming that this brand “healed anything” or “took away these diseases” or that I have a “magic answer”, I am proclaiming that changing brands literally did change my life and the way my body now functions. I truly believe that by incorporating into my day the many vitamins, minerals, amino acids and proteins that God intended us to ingest through our food has allowed my body to function the way He originally intended. Getting all of these vital nutrients in food alone is impossible when you look at the fact that eating one apple 100 years ago would be equal to having to eat 50 apples today.
Do I still struggle with my health now and then? Yes… both physically, mentally, emotionally and sometimes even spiritually. If I didn’t, I would already be walking with my Jesus. But I am so thankful for the tool of this company and products the Lord has blessed us with and I can say it excites me to know how He is using my story and this gift of Shaklee to help transform lives over and over and over again.
“Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well.” 3 John 1:2
So, how does this fit in on the vision of Restoration Farm? As I mentioned before, we see this as an avenue that God will use to help fund the ministry. As my wife continues to build her business through Shaklee, there is an income involved. We have a desire and calling to use that income to bless those who will come through Restoration Farm. Because we also have a vision to see the health of every pastor we come in contact with improve through natural nutrition, one portion of the vision of Restoration Farm is to provide some of the vitamins, supplements or other nutrition lines that Shaklee has to offer at a discount or even free of charge to those who we will minister to. Does this come as a cost to us? Yes. But, the gift of Shaklee is so important to us that we want to benefit others by allowing them the opportunity to experience the products themselves.
We have had several people asking how they could help to make Restoration Farm a reality soon. Honestly, beginning by taking care of your own health and taking part in Shaklee now will help make Restoration Farm a reality. Even if you already supplement, think about just changing brands. If you love the science and would like to know more about why “changing brands can change your life” check out https://shaklee.tv/the-science-behind-the-landmark . Concerning the care of your health or the health of your pastor and their family, you can visit http://www.inspiringrestoration.com and check out all that we have to offer. Share that site with your friends and family.
The truth about Restoration Farm and the reality of what we see God doing really revolves around providing a place for restoration to begin. If we can offer a night (or several nights) for a pastor and their family to retreat, we want to do that. If we can offer a place of retreat combined with a way to benefit their physical wellness, we most definitely want to do that. We believe that a pastor’s physical and mental well being can benefit from a place like Restoration Farm and so will their congregation.
Lord, there are many pastors that are under attack. Even now, I am not physically 100% but I want to lift up those brothers and sisters who are feeling the weight and pressure of the enemy wanting nothing more than see them give up and throw in the towel. God, this vision is nothing short of amazing and we want to see the numbers of pastors and church leaders who are giving up to decrease while the number of thriving pastors increases. Help us to be a source of your increase. Help Restoration Farm to be something that sources health, wellness and… restoration. May this dream be a reality for YOUR glory! Amen.