Okay. Here’s my pitch.

I’m asking…please, give 10 percent.

Now you’ve heard me encourage your churches to invest 10 percent through Cooperative Program giving for Great Commission work. Moving toward 10 percent giving by 2024 is one of the Five Objectives Tennessee Baptists affirmed at The Summit last year. However, this time the 10 percent I’m talking about is giving 10 percent of yourself…literally.

ChubbyChallengeI’m talking about you joining me on a different kind of journey; the Chubby Challenge journey. I’d better explain.

I’m going to be brutally honest with you. For too many years I have struggled with my weight. I wasn’t fooled as a kid by the word “Husky” on the pants label. I knew that was just marketing code for, well, us “husky” fellas. As I’ve progressed through my adult years and now into my 50s, I’ve mostly lost the battle with weight gain. The sedentary, stressful and emotionally draining work of the pastorate often creates an environment that makes it difficult for those in ministry to live fit lives.  Or, I’ve always felt that at the least it provides a pretty good excuse.

I’m certainly not one to point a chubby finger at anyone, but it isn’t that difficult to look around a room full of Baptist preachers and see the poor buttons on our shirts straining to hold back our…”huskiness.” Brothers, we are heart attacks waiting to happen.

But more than just the fitness aspect of it, there is a greater reason for you and I to lay into this Chubby Challenge and lose 10 percent of our current body weight between now and Nov. 1 (We’d like to report the combined total loss at The Summit, Nov. 9-11, at FBC Millington). The greater reason is spiritual.

Too often we preachers are quick to zero in on life’s excesses, yet we turn a blind eye toward our own excessive eating. Let’s be honest. Anything that becomes something we can’t control is in danger of becoming – or has become – and idol. When we can’t control our food craving we show we lack discipline and it can compete with our affections for the Lord. That’s idolatry. Most of us don’t think in those terms because we can’t even imagine loving BBQ as much as we love Jesus. Unfortunately, our consciences have become seared and we ignore or justify our insatiable appetites.

10-Percent-FINALLet me insert a caveat. I am not talking about anyone who has a weight challenge due to any type of medical condition or some other situation that affects their weight. I’m talking directly to those of us who gain weight because we consume far more calories than we burn through exercise.

Here’s the deal in a nutshell. I look around and see that I am in the prime of my ministry opportunity. God has blessed me with 28 years of enjoyable ministry. I’ve learned a lot about Him, people, serving and leading. It would be a shame to waste all those years of experience because I was laid up with a health issue caused by my lack of better fitness. I really would like to give the rest of my life and the best of my life to being much sharper physically for the sake of the ministry, as well as to be here to perform the weddings of my grandkids. I don’t want to miss an opportunity to serve our Savior because of limitations due to weight. I don’t want my pastor friends and others across Tennessee to miss those opportunities either, and that’s why I’m issuing the Chubby Challenge to you and I.

I call it the Chubby Challenge because I have moved from obese to overweight. My goal is chubby. Over the past 18 months I have dropped almost 30 pounds. I’m walking four or five days a week for 45 to 60 minutes. And if I lose 10 percent – that’s 25 more pounds – I’ll be at my next goal. Ten percent more gets me into a more healthy range.

Let me pause and say this challenge isn’t just for pastors, even though I’d love to see at least 200 of our Tennessee pastors join me on this journey. Tennessee ranks in the bottom five states as far as health and weight related issues so I invite anyone who wants to take this journey with us to join in.

scaleYou may ask, why 10 percent? The medical benefits of losing 10 percent of your body weight when you are overweight are well documented. Some of the obvious health benefits are reduced stress on our joints and organs, especially our hearts. Other benefits are intangible. Have you ever wanted to take your kids or grandkids hiking in the Smokey Mountains or shoot basketball with them in the driveway without it being physically challenging? And clothes fit better when we’re 10 percent smaller!

So here is what I’m asking you to do. Follow this web address (tnbaptist.org/challenge) to the Tennessee Baptist Convention’s site and register. There are a number of useful links there and your registration will also put you on an email list. I’ll send you monthly updates along the way. At the site you’ll record your monthly weight so you can check your progress. No one else taking the Chubby Challenge will see your personal information. I’ll compile our total weight loss and share it at the Summit. I look forward to us celebrating our collective commitment to get healthier.

In the end, some of us will move from chubby to fit and others of us will move from obese to overweight. But we’ll all be living healthier lives and be better witnesses for Christ.

We’ll have a little more moral authority when we preach and we won’t have to avoid verses about our bodies being the temple of the Holy Spirit.

So please, commit to 10 percent. It is a joy to be joining with you on this challenge.

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