Why is it that 'selfish' is considered a negative? I think it simply means paying attention to ones self. Is that bad? I know, I know. I hear the chorus rising. The chimes of 'we live in such a narcistic time.' But, I'd like to make the case for focusing on one's health as a valued selfish activity.
The ELCA has a plan for helping its clergy and rostered leaders to improve their health. It begins with an online self-assessment. After completing the survey, you are given a summary along with suggestions on how to improve your health. This simple survey yields some real benefits:
1. First, everyone who takes the surveys gets $150. Who doesn't want cash? (I feel like Jimmy Falon in those Capital One commercials)
2. If 65% of our leaders in new England take the survey, then every congregation receives 2% discount off their insurance premium.
3. You get results like this, here is a snap shot of mine.
It points to my overall state of health, not bad. More importantly, it's targeting some specific areas of improvement. For me that's centering around more exercise and more fruits and vegetables - ok, and then there is that stress thing.
The truth of the matter is that God wants healthy leaders. God wants healthy disciples, and all christians have a responsibility to be a little selfish in this area. Yes, indeed. Taking time to take care of yourself is a good and blessed activity.
I encourage people to consider it part of their job description. Most of our pastors are working more hours than they should. Why should we ask them to add on to those hours more time for self health care?
No. You go to the gym, you do aerobics or yogo or prepare health meals or visit a spiritual director as a part of your ministry. That's not an order, but it is a pretty strong request.