This morning I hit Twitter and saw the trends. Topping the list was #NationalJunkFoodDay.
Let's be honest; we aren't known for good food habits in youth ministry. I LOVED my diet of coffee and donuts in the a.m. and pizza and Mtn. Dew for the rest of my day!! This drastically changed for me in 2006 when I was diagnosed with cancer. I was 26; I was athletic; I was skinny, and I ate whatever I wanted! But suddenly my health was no longer a luxury; it became a battle of life and death.
Here are some things I learned through cancer about my health:
Health can be defined as either living without symptom, or living at your highest potential.
BOTH extremes can become idolatry. If you are living at the gym and cannot pollute your body with anything but organic grass-fed Arabian llamas, then you may need to evaluate Paul's admonishment to his protégé in 1 Timothy 4:8. I remember joking in college about the King James Version that says, "exercise profiteth little." Paul isn't saying to abstain from exercise, but some of us have taken this verse out of context to defend our living an undisciplined life. It's impossible to live at your highest potential without embracing some amount of discipline to achieve that level.
My health moved from pie-in-the-sky to priority.
"Some people get fat; you got cancer." The conversation with my nutritionist came as complete shock. As the father of two young children living on a ministry salary, I had dismissed nutrition. Cutting Mtn. Dew out of my diet seemed to be RIDICULOUS! I was only getting three hours of sleep a night; how would I survive? And who needs money for a grocery budget when we can survive on $90 a week?! Without health, what do you have? We had to kill cable to buy more produce.
Health is NEVER accidental. We know this when it comes to our spiritual lives (that's WHY youth ministry exists), but we take it for granted physically. We make a plan for teaching the Scriptures, but we don't make a plan for proper hydration, exercise, and intentionally eating fresh produce.
Accountability is essential for health. A TREMENDOUS amount of self-discipline is necessary to stay healthy. I need people consistently reminding me to make the good choices, because living for health is a counter-cultural lifestyle (insert sermon here).
If you are going to make the decision to eat healthy, here's a word of warning: YOU WILL BE HARASSED! If you try to order a salad at a youth pastors' lunch, you better expect some looks! I've chosen to avoid this conversation on a number of occasions. It seems less offensive to tell someone that they need Jesus than it is to tell someone to change their diet. But seriously, do you think that nutrition doesn't affect people? Then gorge your junior highers with Skittles before your next lesson and see how that works for ya!
Wayne Morgan is the Northeast regional coordinator for NNYM. He is a mostly healthy guy…except for his coffee intake; but he claims that it's healthy. You can follow Wayne on Twitter @waykarmor. Blog originally was posted at www.nnym.org/blog