A healthy youth leader is important!
This should be something that you value. However, it's something we struggle with greatly. Food is a huge part of our life. In youth ministry it's a means to reaching out to students. Youth pastors from all over struggle with unhealthy habits in general, and they rarely talk about their struggle with weight and health. But maybe it's time we should. Let’s shine the light on the things that causes us to struggle.
Everyone's job/ministry has stress. Sometimes it's bad, other times it's good. But when we are stressed, we start thinking about dinner and dessert. We think about how good that bowl of ice cream will be. It no big secret, we eat when we are stressed.
Computer munch and crunch
How often do you find yourself eating in front of your computer? In our busy schedules or in our own weakness to detach, we often find ourselves eating while surfing. It seems harmless, but when you’re done eating how often do you find yourself still hungry? That’s because we didn't take time to enjoy the meal. We scarfed it down and kept plugging away! It seems that when we eat fast our stomach doesn't have a chance to tell our mind it's full. This often leads to overeating.
Lack of Sleep
Youth ministry calls for extreme working hours. If you are not getting enough sleep then you may lag at work. Here’s what happens: we eat more because we are looking for energy. Most of the time we raid the youth snack shack that are full of candy bars rather than carrot sticks. Also, if you have a habit of going to bed late then getting up early to exercise will be more difficult.
Environment is a source of sabotage. Leftover pizza from youth night, candy form the snack shack and fridges full of soda all make it tempting and difficult to maintain a healthy lifestyle. The simple truth is if you have food in your office, guess what? You'll eat it. Clean it up, get rid of it, have a plan to help you combat the temptation of bad eating habits.
What’s the big deal?
As youth ministers, many of us feel compelled to talk to our students about porn, alcohol, drugs, and bullying. So why won't we do it with obesity? Or with patterns of unhealthy living? (Let's be honest: there are some thin youth workers who fall prey to unhealthy habits, as well.) As role models, we have a responsibility to show students how important it is to care not just for our spiritual well-being but our physical one too. You don't have to be perfect, but you have to show it as a value.