In 2 Timothy 4:5, the Apostle Paul emphatically urged young Timothy to:
Fulfill your ministry (ESV)
Do a thorough job as God's servant (MSG)
Carry out the ministry God has given you (NLT)
Discharge all the duties of your ministry (NIV)
When we think of what it takes to do a thorough job in carrying out and discharging the duties to fulfill our ministry, we often automatically think of spiritual disciplines - Bible reading, staying connected within the Body of Christ, and daily prayer, to name a few.
In these days of COVID-19, fulfilling our ministry through sustained service may involve more than the practice of spiritual disciplines alone.
If we are going to fulfill our ministry assignments,
we have to stay well so we can serve well!
As communities begin to open up, opportunities to serve will increase. And along with that will be an increased risk of exposure to the virus and subsequent illness. Staying well to serve well involves two supports, in addition to spiritual disciplines.
1. Minimizing virus exposure, especially for at risk individuals
In the past few months, most of us have heartily embraced health practices related to minimizing virus exposure. And as communities begin to open up, it is important that we continue to be diligent with hand washing, wearing face masks and maintaining physical distancing.
2. Maximizing immune support and minimizing risk of COVID-19 complications
With the disruption of our daily routines, many of us have struggled to maintain good health habits. But good health habits support our immune system so that we can have the best chance of not being sidelined in ministry should we be exposed to the virus.
The immune system is a complex system of cells, antibodies, receptors and organs that all work together to defend the body. Given this complexity, there is much that we don’t know about how to boost specific parts of our immune system for specific tasks. But we can support our immune system by overall healthy living.
Here are some ways that we can SEE our way through the COVID-19 pandemic by staying well in order to serve well:
Get Adequate Sleep - the body produces and releases proteins during sleep which fight infection and inflammation.
Eat Fuel Foods - they provide nutrients needed for immune system cells and function. Fuel foods are nutrient-dense foods found in their natural form usually found around the perimeter of most grocery stores (produce, meat, dairy).
Eat Plant Foods - they contain antioxidants that help fight inflammation. Plant foods include vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, seed, beans, and lentils.
Eat High Fiber Foods - they feed gut microbes that play a part in fighting inflammation. High fiber foods are found in many kinds of plant- based foods - vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, beans, lentils, peas and whole grains. When increasing dietary fiber, focus on slowly adding whole, unprocessed foods from all these categories as opposed to just a few. Drink plenty of water to prevent gastrointestinal distress.
Get Daily Exercise - it may protect or reduce the severity of ARDS (acute respiratory distress syndrome) which is a major complication and cause of death among COVID-19 patients.
Fulfilling our ministry assignments involves service. And wherever the Spirit leads us to serve, our physical being is involved, either helping or hindering us in our work. This is true everyday, but especially during these days of the COVID-19 pandemic.
So, before we get back out into our more normal routine of serving in our community, let’s SEE to it that we are paying attention to the health habits that will enable us to stay well so we can serve well.
Our communities and workplaces are starting to open up as COVID-19 stay at home orders are being modified in many states. This new phase of our “new normal” will contain many opportunities to serve in the name of Christ. To be effective servants, it’s important that we continue to take measures to preserve our health so we can stay well to serve well.
Regular exercise is an effective mechanism for staying well to serve well as we continue to live in the middle of a pandemic!
A recent study has shown that regular exercise may protect or reduce the severity of ARDS (acute respiratory distress syndrome) which is a major complication and cause of death among COVID-19 patients. It turns out that an antioxidant known as extracellular superoxide dismutase (EcSOD) neutralizes free radicals which protects our tissues and helps to prevent disease. A decrease in this antioxidant is seen in several diseases, including acute lung disease. The production of EcSOD is enhanced by cardiovascular exercise! Even a single session of exercise increases production of this antioxidant.
The simple act of taking a daily power walk may have a big impact on our ability to stay well to serve well!
Psalm 139 reminds us that our days are numbered. We all have a limited amount of time to use our God-given gifts to make an impact by serving others in the name of Christ. And if there is ever a time when we can make an impact, it is now!
If we are going to be full participants in God’s transformative work during this time, we need to do our part to stay well so we can serve well! Let’s get out there and get moving!
About the author:
Ginger Hill is a Christian wellness speaker, coach and consultant and the founder of Good Health for Good Works where she helps the earnest, but often exhausted, workers in Christian organizations to take steps toward healthier living so they can fulfill their organization's mission with energy, excellence and endurance.
Psalm 92:12,14 (NLT)
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