Four Ways Weight Loss Recharged My Spiritual Life and Ministry.
Pastor Gary shares how his current health journey is benefitting his walk with Jesus and ministry to others.
April 5, 2021, is a date that I will never forget. It was the day my life changed forever. That day, I took the first steps on a journey that proved me more powerful than I believed. That I could move something, by God's grace, that I thought would be unmovable for the rest of my life, my struggle with obesity.

With a solid plan, a helpful community, and God's strength, I was able to get rid of (prayerfully for good) over 90 pounds of weight from my body. Saying that still shocks me.

Shedding the extra weight continues to have a profound impact on my life. I no longer suffer from hypertension, I have the energy I need to serve my family well, and my mind is sharper than ever.

However, one of the ways getting in better shape benefited my life was an interesting but pleasant surprise. Getting in better health has blessed and enhanced my spiritual life and ministry. I can think of four specific ways that better health has helped so far.

1. I am more mindful and less distracted in my prayer and quiet times with Jesus.

Before my weight loss, the only way I could be focused and directed during my prayer times was to write out my prayer points and let that guide my time.

There is nothing wrong with that, and I still use my list, but now it serves more as a guide than a crutch.

With my mind clear, I can listen more closely to the Holy Spirit and allow Him to bring to mind what He would have me pray in a new and fresh way.

I know this sounds crazy, but it's true. I can see more connections to issues and pray more specifically and thoughtfully concerning the things the Holy Spirit puts on my heart. I make far less generalized statements about needs, and I'm now able to pray with a keener sense of specificity.

Moreover, my mind is more rooted in the moment, and I have fewer distracting moments where I need to regroup and get back on track.

2. I can lead the charge in the parts of ministry that require physical exertion.

This one is a little embarrassing, but it's true. When it came to set up and tear, I was leading from the rear; I was more of a boss than a leader in that department.

Getting things in and out of the trailer was not something I enjoyed at 381 lbs. I was slow-moving and often hoped that others would do most of it because it was taxing, having very little energy and mobility. Since I worked all week on other things, I figured I could let others do that work.

But getting back into in-person services was different this past year. Because of COVID restrictions, I had less help and only one or two students to help with set up and break down for services.

But I can proudly say that I have been able to lead the charge in the physical aspects of the ministry. When students arrive to help, I am working and getting things done; they can jump in and keep it going. What used to take me 20 minutes now takes me 6 minutes, glory to God.

I think it is a more faithful witness for the people I serve to see me rolling up my sleeves and leading the way in every area of my ministry, including the physical work of church planting and collegiate ministry.

3. I am more efficient, creative, and analytical in my message prep times and the preaching moment.

Preaching is most definitely spiritual work, but it also has various natural components that the minister can enhance.

Things like what questions to ask of the text, how long it takes to craft the message, or how to bridge the time gap between the first-century audience and the twenty-first-century audience are matters of formal training, experience, cultural awareness, and mindfulness.

After losing 20 or 30 pounds, I noticed that the mental fog I was suffering from began to dissipate, allowing me to engage in critical thinking with greater ease and efficiency. With increased mindfulness, I started asking "better" questions, seeing new fall condition focus points from which to approach the text, and creativity for memorably packaging my sermon points increased dramatically; it was night and day.

Also, while preaching, I observed that I could recall more of what I wrote in my notes without looking back as much. In addition to that, I realized that was bringing to bear more information at the moment that I hadn't thought of in my study time, preachers, you know what I mean.

4. I am more myself in front of others and more focused on sharing truth than worried about my weight and potential wardrobe malfunctions.

Man, in retrospect, this was a major distraction in my life and ministry. Not only was I insecure about my weight and appearance, but I also worried about whether or not a button would open up on my shirt or if the portable stage I was preaching on had any weak spots that I needed to avoid.

Can you imagine trying to share what you believe is life-changing truth, but at the same time, you are worried whether or not the smirks or side conversations you see in the crowd are about a wardrobe mishap you haven't noticed yet? Story of my life.

But as the numbers on the scale went down, my true self started to emerge more and more each week. The "me" who was less and less concerned with the potential thoughts of others and potentially embarrassing moments and more focused on sharing the gospel with students. Feeling more like myself was and is huge for me.

I have always been a pretty charismatic, energetic communicator, and as the weight piled on over the years, it was becoming harder for me to be myself in the pulpit. Of course, my confidence rested in the Holy Spirit's power and the truth of the gospel, but I was unable to offer my best self as a vessel to God and be who God had uniquely shaped and wired me to be because of my obesity. So when the energy and charisma returned, it felt like I had regained a part of myself that I thought was gone forever.

To sum it all up, my life holistically is in a much better piece since I made my physical health a priority. Furthermore, I wrote this piece to share my weight loss spiritual benefits because I wanted to encourage my fellow brothers and sisters to pursue better health and wellness as I have. And I wanted others to know that our health plays a significant role in our ability to do for God and others what He called and wired for us to do.

P.S. if you are interested to know more about my weight loss program click here to set up a time for us to talk, I'd love to help if I can.

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