Tuesday, March 09, 2010

I want to be healthy!

I'm currently writing a final paper for my class "Personal Health and Growth in Ministry". Here is an excerpt from it on a topic that has helped me to see myself in a new light.

During this class we were presented with the (w)holistic model of the pastor[1]. Another way that this model can be described is a “Biblical Model of Wholeness”. The desire of the (w)holistic model is to enlighten the person on their entire being; stating that we are more than just one or two dimensional beings. The five dimensions that Harbaugh writes about are the pastor as a: physical person, mental person, social person, emotional person and then wraps up the model with overlaying our choices on top because our choices describe who we are. For our study it is essential to add being a spiritual leader to this equation and with that you come up with the entire person we are describing: a pastor. Dr. Peisner used the following diagram to bring a visual aid to the entire person that we are illustrating here:

The (w)holistic model helps to bring light to the many areas of our life; when one area is neglected other areas begin to suffer. When one area is not addressed other areas can overwork in an attempt to bring balance to the pastors life. Healthy relationships help us become a whole person; the difficulty with this is that we live in a broken world and every one of us has struggles we are dealing with. When you see this model, with this illustration, it helps to clarify and understand how complex we are.

The Hebrew word Shalom brings together the personal, interpersonal, and theological significance of the whole person in an attempt to point to different areas of “peace” in ones life[2]. Jesus commanded us to love the Lord our God first and then love our neighbor as we love ourself (Matthew 22:37-39). Therefore we need to focus on loving God, figuring out areas in our life that need special attention and working on right relationships with others. When we apply the (w)holistic model to Shalom, and Matthew 22:37-39, it brings to light the Biblical view of personhood described here.

When there is no peace in the life of the pastor it would be prudent to assess ones life and figure out what has gotten out of sync in the model. A major contributing factor for the lack of health in ministry is the pastor not correcting seeing himself how God sees him; many times the pastor does not view himself as a complete person how Harbaugh describes. The body is more than just a physical shell that contains organs, blood, muscles and bones: our life is dictated by our choices and those choices have shaped who we are.

There can be multiple factors that contribute to the life of the pastor spinning out of control. The major problem occurs when the pastor forgets to view himself as a person who is susceptible to failure and begins to think of himself as someone who cannot be stopped and is invincible. Harbaugh states:

“As we become more free from those limitations, we become more free for personal and pastoral response to others.”[3]

A simple analogy is that when a pastor overlooks their physical being and allows himself/herself to become obese the obesity can, and typically will, affect the other areas in the person’s life. The choice to eat could be a result of a deeper emotional issue that has not been address and instead of facing the issue the pastor chooses to eat in a response mechanism to deal with the pain of the unaddressed life situation. The obesity could also be a cover up because the pastor has failed to take care of his/her physical body resulting in the weight gain: the areas of our life are tightly connected.

[1] Harbaugh, Gary L. Pastor as Person (Augsburg Publishing House, 1984) P. 20

[2] Ibid. P. 20

[3] Ibid. P. 29

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