God as Your Personal Trainer
Nothing can kill a man’s desire to do ANYTHING, let alone pray, like a sedentary lifestyle. Yet, it can be easy to place our physical fitness in a box outside of our spiritual life.
Growing in spiritual health is contingent upon all aspects of personhood. Dr. Phil Chavez of Men’s Spirituality International states that personhood is comprised of six aspects: spiritual, moral, intellectual, emotional, physical, and social. While each one of these is distinct, health in one area typically bleeds over into another, just as dis-ease in one contributes to decline in another.
For example, a lack of physical fitness can disrupt our social health when we are more prone to illness and unable to participate in communal activities. A depravity of intellectual health through a failure to exercise our brains in the pursuit of knowledge and a better understanding of God’s created order can lead us to making uninformed decisions that are damaging to our emotional and moral health. We see this in the normalization of pornography and the perception of it being a healthy and natural pastime, despite the growing vastness of scientific literature speaking otherwise.
A massive obstacle to a man’s pursuit of physical health today is a skewed understanding of “physical fitness.” We are bombarded constantly with a singular definition of physical fitness in the media, most of which exist on the extreme ends of the fitness continuum. Magazines, commercials, the ads on the side of our Facebook page all show men who are extreme body-builders, extreme endurance athletes, or extreme power-lifters.
Here’s the truth: We are not called to live at the extremes of fitness shown in the media, but to maintain a physical constitution that allows us to thrive in the state of life to which God has called us.
Playing football in high school, I had a heavy focus on strength and speed. After my last game, I no longer had a reason to maintain the same strength, and my definition of fitness changed with my evolving state in life. When I entered the military, muscular endurance and cardiovascular fitness was more essential to me, and so my workouts no longer had the long weight lifting sessions, but incorporated more running and high intensity interval training. Now, working in full time ministry, sitting at a computer and typing a blog, haha, my workouts have lessened in intensity and frequency with the decreasing physical demands of my state in life. I have to be honest, it has been tough on my vanity, but if not on my vanity, my marriage, prayer-life and ministry work would suffer. This is not a cop-out, but something I have found essential to maintaining health in all areas my life.
So, to physical fitness, I say, AMEN! Without a doubt we all need to strive through diet and activity to a level of physical health in line with our given state in life. For some this will be a greater struggle than others, but the greater the struggle, the more glorious the triumph. I would encourage you, if struggling with physical health to not go at it alone. Link up with a brother in a similar state of life, and commit together to a physical goal in keeping with God’s calling for you both. Shroud it all with prayer, and let the peace in your heart and a thriving manly life be the scale to which you evaluate your progression.
Light up the darkness!