By Eric Schmidt
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Church leaders of every kind are experiencing heightened levels of stress in the hectic, technologically saturated world we live in. Compelled by their devotion to their ministry, they take care of almost everyone, except for themselves. Church leaders aren’t superhuman. They’re just as susceptible to the hazards of excessive mileage and lack of maintenance as any of us. A recent study found that 1,500 pastors leave the ministry every month due to exhaustion and burn out. 26% of clergy are taking anti-depressants, 60% report frequently feeling empathy fatigue or burnout, and 72% are at immediate risk for heart disease or stroke. If a politician had the health risks that the leaders of our church face, we would likely be concerned with their fitness to serve in office and potential inability to cope with the intense rigor of governing. Wrongly, we assume that it is standard practice for church leaders to selflessly give of their time and physical capacity without limit or thoughtful care.
In response to these alarming statistics, Florida Hospital hosts a conference, Called to Flourish, to address and combat these very concerns. The initial conference is on September 20, 2013 in Orlando, Florida and is an initiative of Florida Hospital’s Healthy 100 Health Ministry Movement. Max Lucado, along with five other health and wellness experts, will explore ways for church leaders to empower themselves and ways that their congregation can lift their leaders up. The sole purpose of the event is to extend the Healing Ministry of Christ by empowering church leaders to lead their congregations into wholeness, which will permeate throughout their communities.

Because your church is Called to Flourish the conference includes a lineup of top speakers showcasing a wide range of practical insights and encouragement.

As implied by the title, Florida Hospital envisions church leaders flourishing. There are many different meanings people attribute to the word “flourish”. Each of the members of the Called to Flourish speakers’ lineup showcase a unique facet of the concept. Max Lucado will share insight on how to deal with the trials of life and times of turmoil. He’ll explore the Biblical Joseph’s pathway to survival from slave to savior of the world. Dr. Dick Tibbits will show the bleak consequences of holding onto unresolved anger and how forgiveness can literally save your life. Dr. Herdley Paolini shows how you can actually see, like an X-Ray or MRI, the impact of daily choices that contribute to or detract from our mental health and overall wellbeing. Dr. Sandy Shugart will offer his perspective on how the hectic demands of leading a congregation can often work against the leader’s humility, which stifles the ideal practice of servant leadership.
One of the ideas illustrated by “flourishing” is the embodiment of the principles of whole person health, while being an active member of the ministry. Living healthy in this “holistic” manner encompasses spiritual and mental wellbeing. However, an often overlooked part of Biblical wellbeing is the body component. We are told that our bodies are temples of God, but somehow we find this aspect of health secondary. In order to be flourishing, church leaders must be spiritually, mentally, and physically healthy. Called to Flourish speaker Steve Reynolds efficiently states: “Our bodies were made by God and for God.” Steve, along with Dr. Des Cummings, will showcase an inventive set of ways for Church Leaders to flourish “holistically.”
Flourishing doesn’t just refer to the end product of a garden, full of trees ripe with fruit. Rather, flourishing is a process. A seedling is flourishing as soon as sunlight shines down on it and begins to grow. Visit the website for more information about Called to Flourish or to register. Make a difference and make this conference your church and pastor’s priority. It is a great way to see your health budding, your congregation thriving, and your community flourishing.


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