Tag Archives: do good

I’ve lost 70 pounds, but I’m still The Fat Pastor

I high-fived my doctor today.  I had my annual physical.  It was a year and a day after stepping on the scale at that same doctor’s office and reading that I weighed 329 pounds.  Today my doctor looked back at what I weighed last year.  When he saw that I today I weighed 259, he gave me a high-five.

I have gone through a transformation in the last year.  I have transformed my habits.  I have transformed my priorities.  In so doing, I have transformed my body.  More than this, I have experienced spiritual transformation.  I pray more.  I study the Bible more.  I have discovered that when I am more disciplined in my eating and exercising, I am also more disciplined as a follower of Jesus Christ.  I am still transforming.  I am striving every day to Love God, Live Well, and Do Good.

I have lost 70 pounds in 366 days, but let me be clear – I am still The Fat Pastor.  For one thing, I am still overweight.  One year ago I was 34% body fat.  Today I am 25% body fat.  That is a great improvement, but it is still too high.  I literally have too much fat on my body.

Yet even if I lose another 70 pounds, have 7% body fat, and can run a marathon in under 3:00:00, there will always be fat that I can trim from my life.  I am, like John Wesley said, moving onward to perfection.  Until I am there, I will be laden with fat.

The difference between fat and fit is choices.  I make fat choices when I choose a mindless television show instead of time in study.  I choose fat when I spend too much time on facebook instead of cultivating relationships.  I choose fat when I refuse to help a neighbor.  I am fat when I objectify a woman.  I am fat when I contribute to an unjust society. I am fat when I forget the needs of the widow, the orphan, the poor, and the oppressed.  I am fat when I am blind to racism, sexism, homophobia, or any other way that humans try to divide and separate and subjugate.

I’m trying not to be fat any more.  I’m trying real hard.  I draw strength from the love and support of family and friends.  I draw strength from the encouragement of a remarkable facebook “following.”  I draw strength from the words of the prophets that remind me that God’s love and God’s promise of a new day is something for which we can all strive.  I draw strength from the Church as the Body of Christ in the world.  Above all, I draw strength from the grace of Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit.  I draw strength from knowing that it is not my strength on which I must rely.

Jesus said “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your being, and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: You must love your neighbor as you love yourself. All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands.”

I try to love God.  I worship, and I pray, and I read and listen to God’s Word.  I come to Table of Grace.  I fall down in confession, and I rise up with the Holy Spirit.  I try to live well, because I take seriously the oft-forgotten command to love yourself.  I try to do good, because it is through doing good for others that we best express our love of neighbor.

I am The Fat Pastor.  I’m trying not to be. With God as my strength and my salvation, I will be The Fit Pastor someday.  Until then, I’ll keep on my journey of transformation.  Thank you for going on this journey with me.

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Left: December, 2011.  Middle: June 2012, immediately after first 5K. Right: January 2013.

Left: December, 2011. Middle: June 2012, immediately after first 5K. Right: January 2013.


Filed under Christianity, Fitness

Go into the world

People say that words can’t change things.  I disagree.  Words can inspire.  Words can unite.  Words can make someone stop and think, and sometimes that can change the world.  I believe that the words of Minor Myers Jr. have changed me.  It is graduation season, and every year at this time I think of the words that he shared at my graduation.

Minor Myers was the President of Illinois Wesleyan University.  He was the heart of the university, the classic Renaissance Man, and the example of what a liberal arts education is all about.  His two most distinctive features were his hair and his eyes.  The former always appeared to have recently emerged from a wind tunnel and the latter looked like he was about to wink at you with a shared secret joke.  As the President of the University, he gave the final address at graduation.  The conclusion of his remarks each year were the same.  He would look out at the graduating class and wonder.  I paraphrase: Who will startup the first successful company?  Who will discover a new medical procedure?  Who will write the first best selling book or win the first arts award?  As he looked out at the 500 or so young people that were ready to go out into the world, he would close with these words:

Go into the world and do well.  But more importantly, go into the world and do good.” (Dr. Minor Myers, Jr.)

His words captured me the first time I heard them, and I have thought of those words at every graduation I have been to since.  In fact, I have thought of those words many times in my life.  It’s hard to say if those words changed my life.  I probably would have ended up a pastor, trying with all my heart to do good, even if it weren’t for his words.  But maybe not.

As I sat in the quad in my deep green robe, I was wondering the same thing he was wondering.  The world was open to me, and I was going out into it.  I was hoping to do well.  I’m not sure if I was thinking about doing good.  Here I am, ten years later (has it really been ten years?) and his words have stayed with me.  I don’t know if his words changed me, but they certainly helped form me, and when I shared them in my sermon this morning, I hope they formed someone else too.

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Filed under Blogging