11th January 2018
One of the most helpful articles I have ever read was written several decades ago by Bill Hybels. In it he explains how he had always paid attention to his spiritual and physical well-being, putting disciplines in place to ensure he remained healthy in both these areas. But a time came when the demands of leading the rapidly growing Willow Creek Church meant that he came close to a breakdown, despite feeling well both physically and spiritually. He realised that even though he had kept an eye on his spiritual and physical ‘gauges’, he had been unaware of another crucial area – his emotional health. He had failed to appreciate how emotionally draining ministry could be and introduced the idea of an emotional gauge to look at alongside your physical and spiritual gauges.
Over the years I have found the concept of these three gauges – an assessment of your physical, spiritual and emotional health – to be a very helpful way of considering how well I am or am not doing. It is also worth discussing as teams. Recently, I had a breakfast meeting with a businessman who attends King’s. He leads a large advertising agency and travels extensively, and I was interested to know how he manages his life in that busy schedule. He said that for him, regular visits to the gym kept him sane – as well as looking after his physical heath, it helped him recharge emotionally.
Of the three gauges Bill Hybels introduced me to, I normally had little reason to be concerned about my physical gauge until I reached my mid-fifties. I have always enjoyed sport and had been able to stay reasonably fit until a persistent lower back problem meant that all the sports I enjoyed – golf, running, football – were best avoided. By the age of 54 I was as unfit as I had ever been. Then one day last May, I read an article about the positive impact of walking 10,000 steps a day. It stated that walking this far every day had 66% of the impact of running the equivalent distance. In other words, walking gives you a good return for your effort! I like a good statistic, and realised that whilst my days of jogging were behind me, I could definitely walk more. So I decided to give it a go.
I started on May 6th 2017 and 251 days later, I am still doing 10,000 steps every day. My back is better and I know that I am much fitter than I was six months ago. But interestingly, and much to my delight, my spiritual and emotional gauges have also improved. I like to walk and pray (I am not good at sitting still!) and the daily times of walking mean that my spiritual life is in a far better place than it was. But taking time out to walk each day also gives me valuable thinking and processing time, and as a result I feel emotionally healthier too. One small change to my daily routine has improved my life balance and, I believe, my effectiveness as a leader. Time will tell if I can keep going, but so far it has been very good for me and I am highly motivated to continue.
Posted by Steve Tibbert
Steve Tibbert leads King’s Church London, with sites in Catford, Downham and Lee. Over the past fifteen years the church has seen continued growth, both in size and diversity. Steve is also involved in Newfrontiers and regularly coaches other lead elders. His book, Good to Grow, was published in July 2011. He is married to Deb, and they have three sons.