Stewardship Isn’t Just About Money
By Ken Walker-
The danger of emphasizing healthy living is sounding like a broken record or offending those who struggle with their weight. But since I still know what that struggle is like, I believe this message is one that never goes out of style.
Besides the vegetarian lifestyle I adopted, the constant reminders of the need to eat healthy helps me maintain a focus on the weight loss I finally achieved five years ago.
In addition, those who are literally weighed down by excess weight need to know there is hope of shedding those pounds. It won’t be easy and you will find plenty of resistance along the way.
An example of the latter is the family gathering I attended after enrolling in a healthy living program. When I turned down an offer of cake, a relative sneered, “He’s on a diet.” I replied, “No, I’m on a lifestyle.”
Weighing the Possibilities
One way to move in a healthier direction is fixing your eyes on the possibilities of weighing less. This is where it helps to know that real-life examples exist, like some of the people I interviewed for Winning the Food Fight.
One example is Brett Ballengee, who at his high mark in college weighed nearly 300 pounds. As a result, he hesitated to volunteer to help with the teens or younger children’s activities at his church. He figured the only thing he would be good for was picking up a few stray balls or taking attendance.
As a result, his church involvement consisted primarily of attending Sunday morning services. That was a tragedy, especially in light of his degree in elementary education.
Even though he dropped about 10 pounds after graduation, Brett still got winded easily and felt terrible about himself. He didn’t like making excuses about the extra pounds he carried on his six-foot, four-inch frame or hearing others excuse it with remarks like, “You’re just a big guy.”
However, thanks to his involvement in a weight-loss group at the church, Brett dropped more than 40 pounds and started showing a lot more energy. Soon after, two staff members approached him. One suggested he work with teens and the other, a program for elementary-age kids.
Brett says these invitations helped him realize that in the past his weight had prevented him from serving God the way he wanted to serve. After all, he says, the reason for his degree in elementary education stemmed from his desire to work with kids.
“The key thing for me was honoring and serving God with all my mind, soul, and body, through being an active participant in the things I was asked to do,” Brett says.
“Putting my efforts and energy into focusing on what God had called me to do (lose weight), being obedient in that, and then God presenting an opportunity to serve—that was an encouragement.”
Elizabeth Bailey is another sparkling example of healthy living. She and her husband help lead healthy living classes that sparked international media attention and brought Jamie Oliver to Huntington to film his award-winning mini-series for ABC.
From looking at her slender physique, you would never guess she used to be 100 pounds overweight. It started with junk food slowly packing on the weight in college and continuing for 10 years.
“I started getting really depressed about it,” she recalls. “I laid on the couch and cried and said, ‘What am I going to do?’ My husband said, ‘Get up and do something. Don’t just lay there and cry.’”
Fortunately, Elizabeth found the answer to reducing excessive food intake. Not through any particular diet plan, but by learning to eat for contentment. Instead of conforming to society’s dictates that she had to have three meals a day at certain hours, Elizabeth started eating only when necessary.
That might mean lunch at two in the afternoon and dinner at ten o’clock, or no dinner at all. When she felt impulses to eat, she read the Bible instead and those feelings would pass.
The Right Hunger
“You hunger for the Word of God and hunger for His presence,” Elizabeth says. “You live on every word from the mouth of God. I learned food wouldn’t sustain me in the first place; it was God. I also learned God expects me to obey Him.”
When it comes to healthy living, it helps to remember that we are to care for the body God gave us to carry us around this earth as long as we are alive.