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 For we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:10 NIV

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Personal Stewardship Principle #6: God Created Us to Live as an Interdependent Community

Posted on February 21, 2019 at 8:10 AM

 Image by Lucas Lenzi from Freely Photos.


I’ve moved so much in my life, I ought to write a book about it. Each time we pulled up stakes with our belongings loaded in a moving truck to make our home in another city, I tried to consider it a new adventure. “We will just have more friends to meet!” I told my kids.But after several moves, that forward thinking melted away into internal pain. Why? Because we could only handle so many times of tearing up our roots thereby leaving little bits our hearts behind in the people we came to love. We made deep connections with some great people. Their lives moved on without us, and ours without them.


With every move, we always sought out a healthy church family to plug into as soon as possible. A healthy church family was an extension of our family far away. We badly needed to have relationships with other believers. They needed what we had to offer. I remember when my first husband started his studies to seminary. We would only be in this new town for three years, then move on to the adventure God had in store for our family. I tried to be friendly with people, but not chummy. After all, it was so painful moving time and time again because of the relationships we left behind. I couldn’t bear much more, but I wasn’t able to avoid rooting in somewhat deep after a year. We needed close friends and church family. Although I am an introvert by nature, I needed to care about people and for people to care about me.


We Were Created to Need Each Other


In Genesis 2, God decided that it wasn’t good for Adam to be alone, so He created Eve. The relationship was deeply rooted, “This is bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh.” Adam saw her as very much a part of himself. Looking further into Scripture, Jesus gathered His disciples together, building a community. When Jesus was preaching to a group, evidently in a home or building, His family wanted to speak to him standing outside waiting (Matthew 12:46-50). When it was brought to His attention they were waiting for Him to come out, He essentially called those who were gathered around Him His family. He didn’t disown His mom and siblings, rather He helped them understand His mission was to preach and teach the Kingdom of God. They needed to respect His mission to do His Father’s business. The people Jesus ministered to were an extension of family to Him. In yet another passage, we look at the New Testament church in Acts 2:42-47, the church lived as a community together. Throughout the Bible, we see that God intends for us to spend time together in well-rooted relationships with other believers like ourselves (Christianity Today). We were never meant to go through life alone.


We are Created to Accept and Support Each Other


One of the deep needs I have is that of a good support network wherever I live. It has taken almost five years to build a couple of friendships. The rest of my support network lives about 4 hours away, so I see them on Facebook, phone calls, and the long drive to visit with them. It has been quite lonely in a mostly rural community of polite people who don’t build relationships with people from outside of their communities quickly. According to Psychology Today, mental illness can set in when individuals live in isolation: depression, social anxiety, addiction and hoarding. This reveals our deep need for living in healthy relationships in our communities.

Christian community is designed to support, encourage, love, teach, and even lovingly correct each other when needed . In this world that is harsh to the Christian faith, linking arm-in-arm doing life together helps us stay grounded in Christ so that we might not just survive, but thrive (Christianity Today). We find acceptance, encouragement, and support with friends, family, neighbors, and fellow believers (Stewardship.com).


We are Created to Serve Together in Our Diversity


When I worked at a gym in Pennsylvania, I was distinctly different from the other personal trainers. Not only was I a Christian, there was another trainer and our manager in the group, but I had a background of working with new exercisers, mid-lifers, the elderly, and those physical limitations. I could do the hardcore workouts with boot camp, but God gave me a different view and skills set. Some of the hardcore trainers were concerned about trying to work with women who were breast cancer survivors or individuals with injuries or certain health conditions. Every once in a while, I heard, “Char, I have a client who might work better with you…” I would tell them to send this person my way. I also did the same by referring people who wanted to do Tough Mudders and triathalons to them. We learned to value each others’ unique qualities and support each person on our team. We needed each other in our differences.


If you haven’t noticed, we are all the same, yet very different. My hubby, somewhat frustrated with me, resigned himself to the fact I am not like him. We have different likes, dislikes, priorities, backgrounds, gifts, and talents. If we were all engineers, everything would work well, and always be a work in process, but the artistic flair would be missing. If we were all teachers, we would be really smart and well organized, but annoy each other to no end because we would all talk talk while no one was listening. If we were all artists, the world would be beautiful, but nothing would work right or be organized. It would be a seriously boring, annoying world if we were all alike.


The apostle Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 12 that not all of us have the same spiritual gifts for a reason: we need each other. Wouldn’t it be silly if we told the worship leader at our church to step aside so we could do his or her job? I’ve had to lead worship in the past and I can tell you that I am NOT gifted in that area! What if we told our pastors we could do their jobs better? There are people who think like that, by the way. If this person is lucky, he or she might survive one week. Of course, no one really wants the janitor’s job. Plunge clogged toilets, anyone? Truthfully, we are supposed to be interdependent with each other led by the Holy Spirit to edify each other while building the Kingdom of God (Stewardship.com).


Here’s the Lowdown for Us


 I could certainly give you exercises and weight loss tips, which are all over the internet, but these principles that I've shared is what sets us apart in Christian healthy living. “What does that mean with Christian Health, Fitness, and Wellness for me?” you ask.Actually, a lot! Here are a few examples:

  • Not everyone has the same needs or goals as you, but you may have experience with their issues to cheer them on and vice versa. If you’ve lost weight already, even if you have a few more pounds to lose, cheer on the person at the beginning of their journey. One thing they are likely to do for you is to help you see how far you’ve come while cheering you on. Also, let someone who has succeeded in an area where you are weak help you. While someone is reaching up for help, another reaches down to pull the other up.
  • Don’t try to lose weight or improve your health exactly like everyone else. You have unique interests, needs, likes, and daily living issues. Maybe you need to hit the Spinning class at 6:30 am, but your hubby needs to do the elliptical at 8 pm at home. Your dietary needs are also different. If you eat like your hubby needs to eat, you would gain weight and overdo on the protein. Find what works best for you in the rhythm of your life with your unique needs.
  • Just because your friends workout at home with fitness videos, doesn’t mean you can hang with them and get your workout done. You may not get a workout! Sometimes, the social ones can’t work out and talk at the same time. They can still be your friends if this venue doesn’t work for you. Make new friends who are doing what you need to do. Expand your friendship circle!
  • Your unique set of circumstances may hinder someone else. People going through divorce often find themselves left out with a bunch of marrieds. Women having babies need a group women in their own station of life, not lectures about parenting by midlifers. If you went to a weight loss and health improvement class with people from a different station of life, you would not only feel alone, but you may get either advice than you want or more blank stares than what you need. I usually have people with similar issues and life needs together in Healthy Lifestyles to support and cheer each other on. They each have unique qualities within the same life situations. Team up with others with like issues and the diversity within your group will help your sameness.
  •  If you suffer chronic pain and fatigue or depression, just going to a gym or church fitness group will help you break out of isolation. Go, even if you don’t feel like it. Get on a treadmill or head to the pool for adult open swim. Hang out in the back of the class working at your own pace. Just being around people will boost your mood and energy levels. You don’t have to do everything everyone else does, so please, don’t try to pull everyone else down to your own workout level. Eventually consistency will build so you can do more and make friends in the process.
  •  Do listen to what others in your group are doing to help themselves. I say this with a word of caution, though. If someone is taking a supplement that is helping them with a similar need as you, don’t take it right away. First, check it out. Find out more about it: has it been proven to be effective for people like you? What are the side effects and interactions? Second, ask your medical provider if it would be safe for you to take. There may be particular health issues or medications, etc. that may be problematic for you, but not your friend who is using it. Third, if you choose to take it, find a source with the best bioavailability for your budget. You don’t want to pay out good money for it to not work well for you. Always check out what others tell you to learn who is wise from who is not.
  • Don’t let others who have succeeded in their health and fitness goals train you! There are a lot of “Health and Fitness Guru” wannabes out there. If they don’t have the proper credentials, run the other direction! This means, if they are not certified, registered, or licensed in the health, fitness, or medical fields, they are not qualified to train or coach you to meet your goals. Certainly look to their successes for inspiration and encouragement, buy their books or go to their talks, but don’t pay them one red cent to help you on your goals. Here is an example: a former Navy Seal came to a gym where I worked. He started unofficially started personal training with some people in the gym who thought he was amazingly fit and knowledgeable. What they didn’t know was he was creatively abusing equipment in the gym that his body will suffer from over time. The other thing they didn’t know was he was not properly trained nor credentialed, while not being on the gym’s staff. Should he train people who weren’t in the same shape he was in, they would be seriously injured. Not only that, he was taking some seriously concerning supplements. For a person with particular health conditions those supplements could cause serious health problems or death. He was neither educated nor certified as a health and fitness pro. He did not carry liability insurance that would take care of any injuries he would eventually cause. Again, if someone (non-credentialed) you admire for their health, fitness, and wellness gains tries to charge you for coaching or training, or even if they offer it for free, RUN THE OTHER WAY! Follow the appropriate leaders in the right direction.
  •  Instigate health and fitness ministry at your church. Churches are notorious for poor health practices. They are also noted for not being physically fit to handle emergencies, lifting heavy boxes or furniture, and running in the event of a crisis. You may not be credentialed, but you can ask for credentialed pros to lead classes and encourage others to live a healthy lifestyle. You can organize a walking, running, or biking group for your church. You can even be a team leader with #COMMITYOURHEART by requesting your church sponsor this group and asking for an information packet and intro letter from us here at www.betotallyfitforlife.com. There are resources and gear to help ensure your endeavor is successful introducing people in your church and community to personal stewardship of their bodies for the Lord.
  • We need each other on this journey to total health with Jesus at the very center. We can encourage other, provide inspiration, support and layman leadership. Find believers who are properly credentialed like myself to help you. I offer personal training, Healthy Lifestyles coaching, and soon, I will be offering exercise classes online beginning in March. Work up a sweat with others on the same faith and health journey as you.

May you feel loved and lifted up by the diversity and sameness of other believers on your same path. May God bless you!


Resources:

4 Disorders That May Thrive on Loneliness by Kira Asatryan. Psychology Today, July 23, 2015. www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-art-closeness/201507/4-disorders-may-thrive-loneliness

 

Enjoying One Another by Trillian Newbell. Christianity Today, December 12, 2016. www.christianitytoday.com/women/devotions/2016/enjoying-one-another-trillia-newbell/created-to-need-each-other.html

 

4 Reasons the Bible Calls Us to Community by Stewardship Team. Stewardship.com, February 3, 2017. www.stewardship.com/articles/4-reasons-the-bible-calls-us-to-community 

 

Categories: health, faith, weight loss

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