I try to be healthy. Sometimes I feel like everything is crashing in and I can’t do it anymore. God seems to always encourage me and revitalize me, sometimes gently sometimes surprisingly and often right when I feel like I am done or can’t go on. I remember a few years ago I was utterly spent. I was frustrated with ministry, myself, my friends, and there were hardships at home. We had a pastoral retreat day that day and I wasn’t very excited to sit in a room and worship and listen to someone talk about connecting with God. Nevertheless there I was. We started with an imaginative prayer exercise where we walked through the passage using our imaginations to help us experience the story. It was the story in Mark 10 of the blind man who wants to see and in the middle of the story Jesus turns to him and says, “What do you want me to do for you?” As we were sitting in this room we were asked to let Jesus ask us that question. Before I could get the words together in my head, I was undone by the deep desire to be with Jesus. I just kept saying over and over in my head, “I want to be with you.” I want to walk with you, talk with you, marinate in your presence. I was desperate to be with Jesus. So when I sat down to write about healthy habits for a youth leader/pastor I realized the most important habit I have developed in that last few years is the habit of being with Jesus. In order to put myself in position to be with Jesus I have done dozens of things. The truth is there is no exact right way to be with Jesus, somethings certainly help and somethings certainly hurt. Do what it is that helps you be with Jesus and do that thing regularly.

Do what it is that helps you be with Jesus and do that thing regularly.

One of my favorite things to do right is a prayer called the prayer of recollection. It helps me center myself on my identity in Christ. The prayer is here: Prayer of Recollection. I discovered this prayer while attending Talbot School of Theology. They have a magnificent spiritual formation school and every student has to take three spiritual formation classes. Anyways, this prayer has been with me for several years now and every time I neglect it I seem to lose sight of what’s important, get caught up over identifying with my roles in life, and end up running on fumes.  What it is designed to do is spiritually remind us that Jesus is bound to us, and us to Jesus, in the deepest places of who we are. Even when we suck, the depths of our soul are still bound to Jesus and He is still giving life there. This prayer brings me back into contact with my true identity and God’s covenant love over my life. I pray you use it and it blesses you.

Turn off your phone. Find one day or half a day a week where your phone is off. I think it was Andy Stanley I first heard talk about this. I have tried it and it is truly life giving. I am terrible at it and hopefully you are already better than me, but probably not. Think about it this way: If the healthiest habit is being with Jesus how often are our phones pulling us away from acknowledging the simplicity of Jesus being with you. I am not sure this needs a whole paragraph. It’s really quite simple. If we turn off our phones, lift our heads up, listen to the wind, the birds, the rain or even the silence and rest in the simple acknowledgement of Jesus with us, then we will be better for it.

I feel so preachy at this point. Sorry about that. So I decided to just list a bunch of healthy habits you can do and I am praying that as you read these the Spirit will highlight one or two as He leads you into more life. Here you go: Read a poem, exercise, go on vacation, eat healthier, have a Sabbath once a week where you don’t do anything church related, date night, go see a movie by yourself, call a friend and really open up, put accountability software on your phone and/or computer, look into getting a spiritual director, talk a walk by yourself in a park, sit in quiet for 10 minutes once a day (set a timer), develop a team of people that are praying for you regularly, go to mass, find a non-religious Jesus lover who seems like they have healthy habits and hangout with them regularly, get eight hours of sleep, take a nap, talk to someone who doesn’t know Jesus, take a day off just because you are tired… whatever you do, create space to be with Jesus. He would love to do any of these activities with you. I think I am going to do one of these right now… oh wait, I have a meeting. ☺

Wes Watkins
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