Both consistent spiritual disciplines and regular exercise are important to avoid burnout or disqualification. It seems that they go hand in hand. When one is as it should, be the other is much easier to maintain. Both take devotion, dedication and lots of God’s grace. Chuck Lawless shares some helpful insight on how to be faithful in both of these to the glory of God.

Guest Post by Chuck Lawless

I seldom miss a day working out at the gym or on the treadmill in our garage. On the days I walk a brisk pace at a high incline on the treadmill, I also use that time to read my devotional material for the day. If I am running or lifting weights that day, I use the time to listen to sermons, podcasts, books, or music. I’ve learned, in fact, that physical exercise and spiritual disciplines have a lot in common:

  1. When I do both in the morning, my day starts off better. That’s the case for me physically, and it’s also the case spiritually. This is a change for me in doing spiritual disciplines, as I’ve generally done my deep study in the evening. I’ve learned, though, the significance of meeting with God in the morning.
  2. If I don’t do them in the morning, it’s more likely they won’t get done. There are just too many distractions and diversions that get in the way later in the day. My tasks are seeemingly never done, and I’m often worn out before I get around to doing either thing unless I do them in the morning.
  3. Having a plan is essential to doing both well. If I don’t know my plans and goals for each day of exercise, I may not be as focused or intentional as I need to be. Likewise, having no plan in doing my spiritual disciplines often leads to mis-focused, half-hearted efforts. A plan, though, gives me both direction and goals.
  4. When I do both each day, I gain strength and increase stamina. There’s no question that weightlifting and doing cardio have helped me stay healthy as a 61-year old. It’s also the case that daily time with God has strengthened my heart and grown my faith – so much so that I can press on even when my faith journey is difficult.
  5. It helps me to have accountability for both. On one hand, working out with a partner or a trainer has pushed me beyond my perceived limits and helped me to grow. At the same time, knowing how my spiritual mentors read the Word, pray, fast, and witness has challenged me to follow their lead. I need all these folks to help me stay disciplined in both my physical and spiritual disciplines.
  6. The more I do both, the more they become part of my DNA. My body now naturally awakens early each morning. My mind then moves quickly to my scheduled Bible reading for the day. It’s almost come to the point, in fact, that I cannot imagine going through a single day without doing both. To be honest, it’s fun not to have to force myself in these directions.
  7. I pray others see my growth through these efforts. Only they can tell me if so, but I hope I look healthier because of physical exercise; and, I hope my heart more reflects Christlikeness because of my spiritual disciplines. I know I have a LONG, LONG way to go, but I’m enjoying the journey each day.
  8. To ignore either one—that is, to not take care of myself physically and spiritually—is a poor witness. On the other hand, discipline in both, I trust, brings glory to God.

How about you? Do you need to work on your physical exercise or your spiritual disciplines? Or both? Let us know how we might pray for you.