By Rev. Trey Harper
As a pastor, what is the most important thing you do for your church? Is it pray? Is it preach? Is it teach? Is it administrating? What is the most important thing you do for the people who have been entrusted to your care? Or, getting even more spiritual, what is the most important thing you do for the kingdom you serve? While you are thinking about that answer, let me share a story.
This past month I have been preaching about stewardship. (I know, every preacher’s favorite topic.) Anyway, following my final sermon, I was shaking hands and kissing babies, when a comment caught me off guard. In the midst of all of the “good sermons,” one of my younger members said, “That was a great sermon. I had never thought about the fact that our very lives are a gift from God and that we need to offer them back.”
Now, do I remember saying this? Nope. I mean I felt the sermon was good, because we all know the best sermons are the ones you can’t remember preaching, but I do not remember saying those words. But this was the point that she got, nonetheless.
And then it hit me (as all good sermons should). How faithful am I at giving my “life” to the church and to the kingdom? I am not talking about “life” in an eternal sense or even a vocational or calling sense. I am talking life in a physical sense. How faithful am I to my church, my ministry and my God with my physical being? Talk about a scary thought.
Then I thought of the words of Jesus when he said, “From everyone to whom much is given, much will be required; and from the one to whom much has been entrusted, even more will be demanded.” (Luke 12:48). I have been given the gift of health. I have been given the gift of a body and the ability to move. I have been given much, and I should be giving back.
Adding another level to the giving is the gift of health insurance. Our churches and our annual conference invest millions of dollars in providing insurance for the clergy and families. That is apportionment money that is not being used for missions, but for taking care of me. Again, I have been given much.
So, looking at all I have been given, what is required?
Let’s get back to our question: What is the most important thing you do for your congregation and for the kingdom? Regardless of how you answered, among the top choices should be taking care of your physical being. After all, if our health is poor we are limited in our abilities to preach or teach or perhaps even focus in prayer. Taking care of our physical “church” is vital to taking care of the church on earth.
So, get those pedometers on and start stepping out and stepping high. Watch that plate when it comes to potluck. Visit your doctor, take your medicine and keep track of what is going on with your body.
We have been the given the gift of ministry and the gift of a body to accomplish it. Take care of the gift. Take care of the church. Take care of the kingdom. Take care of yourself because your flock and your shepherd require and deserve it.
Harper is pastor of Eupora First United MethodistChurch.