Don’t you just love going to see the doctor? My last trip turned out great. He said I was healthy and, “Lord willing,” should live into my nineties like my parents. I am not certain my wife, Carol, was jubilant with the news. That’s a long time to manage a husband!
I noticed that he took my vital signs. He started with my weight and age but seemed to move quickly to the main vitals—temperature, blood pressure, pulse, and respiratory rate. Those four indicators seemed more important to him. He wanted to know what was happening on the inside.
Have you noticed that, in ministry, we too often we concentrate on numbers that don’t necessarily inform our actual health? Exterior numbers, while significant, don’t tell the whole story. It is possible for a pastor to lead a church with large attendance while both leader and led are internally unhealthy. It is also possible for a leader with a high chronological age to remain young in thought and energy. Perhaps we can learn from the doctor that too much focus on exterior numbers might be counterproductive.
So could I ask you about your vital signs?
Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me (Psalm 51:10, NIV).
• Temperature—Nurses jab that thermometer in your mouth because they want to know your core body temperature. An elevated temperature indicates infection. So, Pastor, what’s your temperature? Is there any disease or infection in your soul? Has any less-than- Christlike attitude or activity crept into your bloodstream? Has your passion cooled?
• Blood Pressure—That blood pressure cuff on your left arm applies pressure at just the right place to measure any heart abnormalities. The bacterial plaque of ministry often builds up, and regularly we need the Holy Spirit to clean out the blockages. So, Pastor, would you be willing to breathe a prayer right now asking the Lord to place his finger on just the right place in your heart to remove any buildup of hurt, sadness, fear, or frustration? Ask God to flow through you in a fresh, unhindered way.
• Pulse—Those awkward, quiet moments are important as the nurse carefully puts a couple fingers on your wrist and counts the beats. The older we get, the more slowly the heart tends to beat. Can I ask you, Pastor, what tends to pick up your heart rate these days? I pray it is the joy and thrill of seeing folks coming to faith and fullness in the Spirit.
• Respiratory Rate—That cold little cup on your chest might seem like an intrusion, but it is necessary. The doctor needs to know how many breaths per minute you experience. The doctor needs to listen to your lungs to discover your capacity for bringing in fresh oxygen. Pastor, can I ask you a personal question? Are you trying to minister while experiencing personal staleness in your life? You may need to pray, “O God, give me fresh air, fresh wind, a fresh awareness of your presence today. Increase my capacity to love and serve the people you have placed in my charge!”
Pastor, I am thankful for you and your ministry. There is real joy in this work when we concentrate on the best indicators of health. I pray that you will concentrate on your vital signs so your ministry will in turn be vital and life-giving. Would you join me in praying David’s prayer today?
“Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10, NIV).
By the way, could I recommend a health visit that has the potential of improving your vital signs? The Mission 2015 (M15) gathering in Kansas City is February 9-11, 2015. The Great Physician will be there!
BOB BROADBOOKS USA/Canada Regional Director