Monday, April 03, 2006

Theological Questions of the Week

Can an Overweight Minister be Effective? Can an Anorexic Minister be Effective?


DennisS said...

"Effective"? Sure, why not? Actually, an overweight pastor can reach people that a skinny pastor can't.

The fact of trying and failing to keep weight down will help some people relate to the humanity of the pastor. This isn't a case of the blind leading the blind.

If people expect their pastor to be perfect, then they've got a lot of disappointment ahead of them (or quite a bit of denial going on).

Cat. said...

I agree with what Dennis said.

I'd add that one of the best ministers I've known was seriously overweight.

Pastors are human, and they struggle, and congregations need to face that fact.

Love your blog, by the way.

John Schroeder said...

Listen, I hate to be a hard guy here, but the question is just silly.

Since when is body weight a indicator of anything even remotely important when it comes to faith, obedience, values, and understanding?

The question is akin to asking if a church that only sings hymns can be effective, or a church that only sings praise chorus' can be effective. Or is a church that has folding chairs instead of pews wrong?


Stuart Hill said...

more than being silly, the question's not really "theological."

Teri said...

I suspect the root of the question is actually "can a person who abuses their body be an effective minister?" At which point the question is not only about being over or underweight (which is sometimes something we can't control either psychologically or biologically) but is also about chain smoking, drug addiction, excessive use of alcohol, etc.

While we definitely can't expect pastors to be perfect, we can expect them to help us see and practice caring for the temple that is our bodies.

Pastor Lance said...

I stuggle with my weight. Up some... down a little... repeat. But I don't give up the battle. To do so would put my health at risk. If I have health problems the church I serve suffers.

This seemingly trivial question has some deep and profound implications. We just don't want to look at them.

I'll have another blue berry muffin to go with my triple shot mocha (with whipped cream on top) while I read my Bible and prepare my sermon.

Pastor Lance

Anonymous said...

I see where you are coming from with this question. Our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit. We need to take care of them, otherwise it shows disrespect for the Lord and a lack of good discipline. Gluttony is a sin, like a lot of other sins, and anorexia can be a form of reverse gluttony, being extremely critical and unloving of self.

So can an unrepentant sinner who chooses to keep on sinning their favorite sin be effective?

One way to be effective is as a good bad example. You can also make people feel comfortable with whatever their pet sins are instead of considering change. When your sins match, you understand each other. Should it stop there?

In some ways a pastor who does not have his body weight under control can be effective but in other ways he/she cannot. It depends on the topic. If we are talking about the love of Christ, salvation, comfort in a crisis, etc. sure they can be effective.

If they are talking about self control, sin, going on to perfection (a Methodist concept) or anything that the pastor might be a role model, no he may not be effective. People do not respect those who cannot get a handle on their weight in many areas of life.

Obese pastors tend to be rejected by search committees. One pastor I talked to had been rejected by multiple congregations as an applicant because his wife is very heavy. He wound up leaving the ministry after going several years without a church and enduring many rejections. Shallow on the part of the congregations? Yes! But it is reality nonetheless.

Secular health insurance is another issue. If a congregation or denomination provides health insurance in the form of some kind of pool, weight extremes are a liability, just like in the secular world. You can't be effective in a job you can't get in the first place.