Looking and Feeling Good for Preaching

Looking and Feeling Good For Preaching

In the last post we considered how you should dress for preaching.  You should look like your audience, or dress one step more dressy than they do.  In this post I want to consider a somewhat controversial issue: looking and feeling good for preaching.

Physical Health and Preaching

I have been in ministry for well over 40 years.  I’ve pastored churches of various sizes.  In my experience, I spent a great deal of time sitting.  I sat in my office to prepare messages and to meet with staff and people in my church.  I sat in meetings.  And I sat in my car on my way to hospitals or home.  It is more than possible to get out of shape in the process of ministry.

In addition, we who are in ministry often have opportunities to overeat, or give in to the temptation for comfort food.

Comfort Food

The church I am presently serving requires me to take a 40 minute drive to and from. Recently, I was on my way home at a little after 10 pm.  The meeting that I was in took more than 3 hours, and there were many moments of tension in the process.  I knew that the next exit had a MacDonald’s at it, and suddenly I had a craving for a chocolate shake–one of my favorite indulgences.  So, I got off the exit and headed for the drive-through.  As I sat in line, I decided that some fries would go well with that shake.  In fact, so would a cheeseburger.

This is one of my personal challenges, and it may be yours.  A response to stress is to eat, and the food that brings me “comfort” tends to be high sugar, high fat, and high salt.  In other words, it’s not particularly good for health reasons.

When you Don’t  Feel Good for Preaching

Bryan Chapell

Bryan Chapell says this in regard to looking and feeling good for preaching a sermon:

You usually will preach best when well rested, physically fit, and not too recently well fed (milk products, carbonated drinks, heavy food, and being quite full can negatively affect vocal delivery). 

(Bryan Chapell, Christ-Centered Preaching: Redeeming the Expository Sermon, Kindle ed. (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2015), Location 7500).

If you preach regularly, you likely know what he’s talking about.  Here’s the reality, according to LifeWay Research: Over 50% of pastors are unhealthy, overweight, and do not exercise.

The Bible

The Bible tells us in many different passages that looking and feeling good is generally God’s will for us.  Proverbs 23:20-21 says this:

“Do not join those who drink too much wine or gorge themselves on meat, for drunkards and gluttons become poor, and drowsiness clothes them in rags.”

In other words, too much food or drink can make us lazy.

In Philippians 3:19 the Apostle Paul writes about people who are opposed to Christ, and describes them this way:

“Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame.”

In other words, they lack self-discipline in their eating.

Paul’s statement in I Corinthians 9:25-27 challenges me:

Every athlete exercises self-control in all  things.  They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.  So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air.  But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.

In other words, the follower of Christ should be disciplined in every area of life.

The How To’s of Looking and Feeling Good for Preaching

Exercise is certainly part of that.  Walking is one of the best forms of exercise.  I have a friend who has used this form of exercise for years.  He takes a “prayer walk” first thing in the morning.   Of course, there are days when this is more difficulty.  After all, he lives in snow country here in the US.  But over the years this form of exercise has served to keep him “in shape”.

Find a form of exercise that works for you.  If it isn’t a walk, what about joining a club, or getting exercise equipment in your home.  I have a treadmill and an exercise bike in my basement.  4 or 5 times a week I exercise–right after my devotional time.

Diet is another thing to keep in mind.  I realized a short while ago that I wasn’t self-disciplined with my eating.  I would buy a variety and quantity of snack foods, and found that I was accessing them more often.  And so, I asked my accountability partner to help me by holding me accountable for my eating.  I cleared my pantry of snack foods, and began fasting regularly to get back to looking and feeling good for the betterment of my life, not just my preaching.


This is tough stuff, isn’t it?  However, this relates to how we look and feel, and how people perceive us.  Let’s get in shape for preaching the Word without distracting the audience by how we look and feel.

Here’s another view of this: