Get A Physical
I ask that the Senior Pastor go to their physician for a complete examination that includes:
– A screening lipid panel (cholesterol test)
– Complete blood count
– Chemistry panel
– Body mass calculation (BMI)
– Metabolic age calculation
I want that Senior Pastor to walk away knowing exactly where they are health-wise.
I don’t think Senior Pastors are any different than anyone else in their church; which basically means they have no clue exactly where they are physiologically.
One Senior Pastor I know was shocked when he learned that even though he thought he was a relatively healthy guy in his 40’s, he had the metabolic age of an 80-year-old man.
Do you know your metabolic age?
Meet With A Licensed Nutritionist
I also ask Senior Pastors to meet with a nutritionist for a complete top to bottom analysis of their eating habits, with an eye towards ensuring they have a healthy relationship with food and that they are working towards getting to (and maintaining) their goal weight.
The key in this regard is to find someone who isn’t a quack chasing after the latest diet fad. The good news is almost all licensed dieticians/nutritionists aren’t. You need someone who understands the science of your body and won’t be afraid to get in your face and tell you that you need to get in shape.
Many insurance plans will allow you six sessions of nutritional counseling a year, so take advantage of it.
HERE is the link to my nutritionist Adrianne who is outstanding. Most of the pastors on my staff have gone to her. She does training via Skype for people around the country if you’re interested.
I suggest going for a minimum of 10 weeks to establish a healthy pattern. I also encourage pastoral couples to both see the same nutritionist so they’re not on different nutritional paths.
A tool that fosters collaboration between my nutritionist and me is My Fitness Pal, an app that I have on my iPhone that syncs with my iPad and laptop. Since I have allowed my nutritionist to “friend” me on it she can pull up everything I eat and analyze it right on the spot when we meet. HERE is a video tutorial on how to use the app on your phone. It’s pretty amazing.
The plan I follow is simple:
– 6 meals a day (every 2.5 to 3 hours to minimize blood sugar spikes, and then crashes), eating the first meal within 30 minutes of waking up
– A carb and protein paired together for each meal
– Drink 20 oz. of water before each meal
– 1900 calories max each day
– 5 servings of vegetables and 4 servings of fruit per day
That’s it. It’s nothing revolutionary. My nutritionist’s whole philosophy can be summed up by the 4 rules of food success championed by author Bill Phillips: Eat the right foods, in the right combinations, at the right times, in the right portions.
What I love about my nutritionist is she avoids fads and pushes back if I make excuses.
That’s the kind of nutritionist you need.
Meet With A Financial Planner
One of the things I do for the Senior Pastors that I coach is perform a complete analysis of their pay scale, and with their permission, share this information with their Elders/Leadership Council/Governing Board.
In my experience very few leaders on governing boards in churches under 1,000 understand how to go about creating a legitimate compensation structure for growing churches.
But while pay is a concern in some situations, my ultimate concern is how the Senior Pastors I coach handle their money, and whether or not they are on track to meet their financial goals.
I want the Senior Pastors I’m in the trenches with to know they are being paid fairly (or be coached on how to approach this with their board if they’re not) and to have a clear financial plan in place.
Finding a good Certified Financial Planner is not easy, so the first place I send Senior Pastors is to Dave Ramsey’s list of ELP’s (Endorsed Local Providers).
No doubt there is someone you know that knows a good one as well. The key is to find someone who avoids fads.
While I believe you need to pay for solid financial advice, I don’t think you should waste money lining the pocket of your financial planner by paying for mutual funds and stocks they are constantly advising you to buy. That’s how most make their money.
I’ve always followed the advice of my uncle who retired at the age of 40 – “All I did was keep my expenses low and put as much money as I could in Vanguard Index funds.”
I tell every Senior Pastor I coach (if they ask my advice) to put their money into one of Vanguard’s Target Retirement Funds and get back to pastoring. With Vanguard’s TRF’s you calculate the year you want to retire, fill out the form, and you’re done. It’s that easy.
Funny story – I was talking to one of my Certified Financial Planner friends who manages millions for investors about my uncle’s strategy and Vanguard Target Retirement Funds. He was skeptical. Surely investing needed to be more complicated. Long story short – I saw him two months later and he told me he switched his personal funds over to Vanguard and loves them. ☺
My goal with this article is obviously not to give you investment advice.
I just want to make sure you have a plan in place that works. Most Senior Pastors I coach aren’t saving enough for retirement. The good news is you can fix this quickly. Don’t put this off.
Hire A Trainer
I know I said there are three things that I require, but there’s a fourth that I highly suggest: find a trainer to help you get to your goal weight and meet your fitness goals.
I recently hired a trainer and it is making a big difference in my life.
In June 2014 I had a pretty debilitating back injury, followed by leg immobility, pain management, and then surgery and physical therapy.
I gained quite a bit of weight as a result.
This December I said, “That’s it” and paid for a trainer.
When I looked for trainers at the gym I belong to the staff suggested I pick a trainer named Drew because “he’s a family guy who’s got a life and isn’t too crazy.” I said, “Nope. I want the jacked guy who is imbalanced and will scream at me and make me barf.”
My trainer Sean hasn’t been that extreme, but he has made me work harder than I have since three-a-days in high school football.
I see him on Tuesday and Saturday mornings, and then do cardio on my own on Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays. I take Wednesdays and Sundays as rest days (following Tuesday and Saturday trainings) because the days before are so intense. For cardio I get on the elliptical and watch a full length TV show (52 minutes) that I only watch when I’m at the gym. I’m currently working my way through Gotham. I turn the show on and don’t get off till the credits start rolling. I’ll burn 550-650 calories each time.
The great thing is you don’t need to pay someone to do this. I guarantee there are a number of qualified people in your church who would be willing to train you for free. Just make sure you pick someone who will keep the talking to a minimum and won’t view trainings as an opportunity for non-stop counseling.
Putting Yourself First
We often talk about being servants and putting ourselves last.
But the reality is if Senior Pastors don’t care for themselves first, they will end up being unable care for anyone for very long.
You deserve to be the healthiest, most financially sound version of yourself you can possibly be.