Bo Wagner is pastor of the Cornerstone Baptist Church of Mooresboro, NC, a widely traveled evangelist, and the author of several books. His books are available on Amazon and at www.wordofhismouth.com
“Why do you post videos of yourself lifting weights?”
The question came from a gentleman interested in joining our church but a bit perplexed at my very non-typical-preacher habit of doing bench press or other videos and posting them online. And I understand his confusion; most of the preachers I have known from my youth onward seem to only lift small shovels to their mouths and then express mirth over their girth as they dig their grave by the spoonful. But I have chosen a different course, and am pretty pleased with it.
Mind you, I am a powerlifter, not a bodybuilder. I will not be thonging, waxing, fake tanning, going shirtless, or parading a mostly naked body for the world to see. I cannot even begin to imagine how a preacher, or even just a child of God, could ever justify that. Nonetheless, I lift weights several times a week, eat a fairly healthy diet for the most part, and even do pretty regular purgatory, otherwise known as “cardio.”
But as for why I post videos of it, there is a very good answer to that, and it has nothing to do with vanity, I hope. I want to serve as motivation for Christians in general and preachers in particular to get off of their ample posteriors and make their posteriors less ample. Or, as one of my Instagram followers put it under one of my posts, “I appreciate that you are not a typical fat physical slob looking preacher. I can tell you that I honestly don’t care to hear what a preacher says when he is huffing and puffing a few steps up to the pulpit.”
It is not just a matter of health; it is also a matter of testimony.
Anyone can find themselves in poor health and even obese due to factors beyond their control. But I suspect that the far more common case is that people, in general, could be a lot healthier and fitter than they are and just lack the discipline to do so. And for a child of God, that is simply unacceptable.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 says, “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.”
The body of the child of God was purchased by the blood of Christ along with our soul and spirit. Every bit of us is now his property if we are born again. And that makes any damage we do to our bodies by our sedentary lifestyles and poor eating habits vandalism of God’s property. We ought to take that very, very seriously. Yes, when comparing the physical with the spiritual, Paul taught in 1 Timothy 4:8 that “bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things,” but “little” is not “nothing,” it is something, just not as big a something as godliness. And since the Bible repeatedly speaks against both gluttony and laziness, Scripture can never be used as a valid excuse for either.
So what are you going to do as this new year begins? How can there be less of you so that the less of you can be a better and more long-lasting you, and how can the less of you be stronger and more capable than the unfit more of you ever was?
I am certainly not a professional personal trainer, and I am aware that I could die of a heart attack before this column even goes to press. But I am a fifty-one-year-old with relatively low body fat, normal blood pressure, no major health problems, and good muscle tone who at 195 pounds can bench press anywhere from 315 to 355 pounds depending on my strength and energy levels on a given day. So, take it or leave it, here is my advice to you (along with the requisite disclaimer of our modern age, “Be sure to check with your doctor before you start any diet or exercise program.”) especially you who bear the name of Christ.
Be wise in what you eat. Study what makes up a healthy diet, and then make a lifestyle of it. For me, I eat mostly lean protein, whole grains, fresh vegetables, and greatly limit any intake of white bread, sugars, and processed food.
Be active. This normally means things like joining a gym and going faithfully. You can also walk a few miles a day. Lift weights, even if you do not lift anywhere near as heavy as I do. Even light weights lifted for high reps make a big difference.
Be detailed. Don’t just “do random stuff;” keep a notebook of absolutely everything you do in your exercise routine, every set, every rep, every weight, every lap, all of it. That way, you have something to compare to and try to best the next time you go at it.
Be creative. Don’t have the ability to go to a gym? If you have stairs in your house, you already have a home gym. Fifteen minutes a day quickly going up and down stairs is a phenomenal workout. Park as far away as you can from work or the store, so you have farther to walk.
Be determined. Very few good things ever come easy, but all good things are worth the effort. Keep at it and keep at it until you can look in the mirror and say, “Now that is a testimony worth having.”
Pastor Wagner can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, and his books and other resources are available by clicking the “Store” link above.
Feature photo by Pastor Bo Wagner