Many pastors have become complacent about their health and have become overweight.
Many pastors have become complacent about their health and have become overweight. (iStock photo )

Something that God has really put upon my heart these days is the number of people in the pulpit and in ministry who are obese and overweight. When I look at pictures on social media and see the number of pastors and leaders who are obese and severely overweight, it grieves me. I believe it grieves my spirit.

I think about what kind of testimony we are to the body of Christ regarding health, wellness and the healing atonement Jesus purchased for us at the cross. How can we minister healing and lay hands on the sick and have people believing for their healing of obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol or diabetes when we ourselves are struggling with these issues and are overweight ourselves?

Is this God's best for us? I don't believe so. How is our soul prospering, as the scripture states, "Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers" (3 John 1:2). Our soul can have struggles and challenges when we are manifesting physical ailments because diabetes and high blood pressure are stress related. 

When we are obese, many times we are suffering with a food addiction because of an emotional ailment, something from which we pastors need healing. Pride is one of the things that prevents us from receiving our healing, admitting we need healing or seeking out another leader who can walk us through that healing process.

Food addictions are many times due to stress, loneliness, boredom and emotional ailments that lead to comfort eating instead of dependency on God. Why don't we as leaders care enough about ourselves and our bodies to get physically fit for the kingdom? Why do we care more about healing others than ourselves?

Not caring about ourselves can be because of self-hate and low self-worth, the very things the Bible teaches against. The Bible clearly states several times to love our neighbors as ourselves. If we are loving our neighbor and caring for our neighbor, then shouldn't we love and care for ourselves?

Our body is a temple of the Holy Ghost. "Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?" (1 Cor. 6:19) We should take care of it like He is here, because He is. He is inside of us! "For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's" (1 Cor. 6:20).

We were bought with a price! That is reason to celebrate and treat our bodies right—sexually, physically, eating and exercise! 

I don't want my temple to give out before due time, and I know most of you don't either! We need to rise up and be fit for the kingdom.

I don't want to be in a prayer line in Africa (because you know they go long) and say, "Oh, sorry, wait a minute, I need to go and sit down or close the prayer line, because I can't stand up any longer."

Yes, this is for real. What if your body can't hold up for what God has called you to do? We have a responsibility to the body of Christ, to people. We are here to serve God and serve people, love God and love on people. What if we can't serve and love because our body is screaming 'no'?

Complacency and passivity have attacked Christians. Even though we work hard in some areas trying to advance the kingdom, there are areas in our lives where laziness sets in. Weight loss, exercise, health and wellness are those areas.

Christians work so hard for the kingdom they forget to take care of themselves or simply don't have the strength, time or effort it takes. But you can do it. God gave you His strength. Pray for it. Desire it. Want it.

How do you do it? How do you make the change? I didn't always want to eat right and exercise, but I prayed and asked the Holy Spirit to give me a desire to exercise, and He did.

Now I find it releases my mind at the end of a long day of ministry. I can go to the gym, clear my head and connect with God. I claimed and decreed years ago I would eat organic within five years. I spoke out of my mouth what I wanted to happen. I prayed and asked God to take away chocolate cravings and learned what caused sugar cravings, what vitamin or protein I was lacking. I attended some health and food classes at our church to learn about nutrition, including the effects of pop on the body, and once I gathered that information I made choices to abstain from those foods.

But the amazing thing that happened is that the Holy Spirit co-labored with me and took away the desires for those foods. He is faithful when we will listen and be obedient to Him. He desires us to be in health, so why wouldn't He co-labor with us?

Pray and call forth the neural center in the brain, the part of the brain that regulates appetite to regulate and be normal in Jesus' name. It is the area in the brain that is believed to regulate appetite and food intake. Pray and command this part of your brain, which is your appestat control center, to come into alignment with the Word of God and to be normal in Jesus' name.

Pray and command gluttony, food addictions, disobedience, bondage to food, overeating, self-indulgence, sugar addictions, chocolate addictions, caffeine addictions, laziness, complacency, passivity, loneliness, stress and all other things that are plaguing you to be gone in Jesus' name.

Call forth that you will be a proper weight, that you will love to exercise, that you will have balance in your eating and desire good things. Come against the things you don't want and speak to your mountain in the spiritual atmosphere. Proclaim forth the scriptures that you will have:

  • "I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly" (John 10:10).
  • "By whose stripes you were healed" (1 Pet. 2:24).
  • "With long life I will satisfy him" (Ps. 91:16).
  • "That the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body" (2 Cor. 4:10).

You can start this journey into health and wellness through prayer and by changing the following behavior patterns, thoughts and habits:

1. Keep your mind active when hungry.

2. Water is satisfying and filling. Many times we eat when we are really dehydrated.

3. Eat to satisfy. I call it eating to survive, not to thrive. Don't overstuff yourself.

4. Don't eat when depressed, stressed or lonely; try worshiping instead.

5. Drink a glass of water 30 minutes before you eat a meal.

6. Monitor your intake of meats and sweets.

7. Look at your plate as an act of worship.

8. Exercise.

9. Take vitamins.

10. Eat more protein when you are hungry and have cravings.

As leaders in the church we want our lives to be a testimony. One of the ways it can be is by living this verse: "But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified" (1 Cor. 9:27).

I believe as ministers in Christ and Christians living to share the gospel in our world that this verse speaks volumes. How can we be a witness, a living testimony to others if we aren't living the very gospel we are preaching? I don't want my body to make the gospel disqualified to the hearers as I preach of the healing atonement of Jesus Christ.

I believe we need to be a testimony of what Christ can do in us and for us, in weight loss and healthy eating. As Christians we need to get rid of our food addictions, emotional bondage and excess weight to be effective for the kingdom.

How can we preach healing and deliverance if we are held in bondage to food? How will people listen to us and value what we say? We need to make the gospel of Christ credible through every part of our lives, our spiritual walk, our emotional well being and our physical body.

I know you can do it. Be determined. Stay focused. And, remember: "If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes" (Mark 9:23), and "I [YOU] can do all things through Christ who strengthens me [YOU]" (Phil. 4:13).

Kathy DeGraw is the founder of DeGraw Ministries, (www.degrawministries.org). She is a prophetic deliverance minister who is passionate about releasing the love and power of God. She travels, hosting conferences, teaching schools and evangelistic love tours. Kathy enjoys empowering and equipping people through writing and is the author of five books.  

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