There are many ways to think about physical fitness. When it comes to exercise, I think that sometimes our biggest barrier to staying motivated to be consistent is an overwhelming and often irrelevant picture of why we should improve or maintain our fitness level.
Think about our sources of motivation to get fit in our society –
The Fitness Model/Celebrity – We see them in almost every advertisement for a fitness class or equipment and we aspire to their greatness. They are lean with not a lump or bump anywhere. They have perfect curves or chiseled muscles and a slight tan to enhance the look of health and vitality. And don’t forget that signature smile that reflects satisfaction in the societal advantages that can be yours if only you could look this way.
The Athlete – We show great admiration for great athletes. We give them applause and celebrity status. In monetary terms, we value their contribution to society more than that of a doctor, nurse or teacher. In terms of attention, we give them praise for their accomplishments more than for Nobel Prize winners.
As Christians, we would consider this type of thinking to be worldly. But even in the Christian community, we set up these hierarchies of greatness to motivate us. I once heard a Christian encourage people to get fit using the admonition “If God asked you to build an ark, could you physically do it?” This question is very motivational. Who would not want to be the one who, because of their strength and vitality, could be an ark builder for God?
But the truth is that for every person called to attain physical attributes of a visible ark builder, there are many others who contribute to the cause from behind the scenes doing very sedentary activities, such as: fundraising, prayer, accounting, encouragement, supply chain management, instruction and training, quality control.
So maybe the best motivation to get and stay fit is not to aspire to do or be something great, but simply to be full participants in the life God has given us and to be able to do what we are called to do with effectiveness, energy and excellence.
Rather than motivating yourself to stay fit to meet the challenge of doing some kind of great work for God that may not even be within your ability, giftedness or calling, it may be wiser to ask:
Is there any place in the my life where I am being held back from doing or fully participating in what God has assigned for me to do because of my level of fitness? Is there any area of life where, rather than participating, I find myself staying on the sidelines because I know that I will be too fatigued, winded or embarrassed?
In other words, a fitness goal does not have to involve the pursuit of greatness. A good fitness goal can be very ordinary, such as:
God may call you to build an ark or to do some other monumental task that requires a very high level of fitness. Or God may call you to be a fun-loving parent, engaged employee or involved neighbor. The type of calling is not the issue. A quick read through 1 Corinthians 12 shows us that God has given each of us different gifts and is interested in our participation in His work. The perceived greatness of our work is not the issue.
There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them.
There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord.
There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.
1 Corinthians 12:4-6
The point of pursing fitness is that we are able to be full participants in whatever we are called to do. And when we look at it that way, the pursuit of fitness goes from being overwhelming to ordinary and therefore becomes very attainable.
How about you? Is there any place in your life where you are being held back from fully participating in what God has assigned you to do because of your level of fitness? Is there any area of life where, rather than participating, you find yourself staying on the sidelines because you know that you will be too fatigued, winded or embarrassed? If so, what is an ordinary fitness goal that you can set for yourself this week?
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About the author:
Hello! My name is Ginger Hill and I am a Christ follower and a wellness professional. Over the years, I have personally and professionally seen the benefits of healthy living and I have also seen the hardships of struggling to practice good health habits in the midst of a busy and sometimes stressful life. I am passionate about helping myself and others to live a healthy lifestyle and I believe that good health is essential in helping us to do the good works that God has called us to do. Because I am a work in progress, I write these blog posts to encourage myself and I share them with others in the hope that they may be encouraged as well.
Psalm 92:12,14 (NLT)
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