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Fit to be a Pastor: A Call to Physical, Mental and Spiritual Fitness

By G. Lloyd Rediger
WJKP. 2000. Pb. $14.95. ISBN ISBN 0-664-25844-1

Reviewed by Cathy C. Chisholm, Vandalia, Ill.


Lloyd Rediger is on a crusade. He has written his latest book, "Fit to Be a Pastor: A Call to Physical, Mental and Spiritual Fitness," as a challenge to the church to join the quest for healthy leaders. The book is a summons issued to all of us in church leadership, particularly pastors, to seek body-mind-spirit fitness and to do it now.

In his previous book, “Clergy Killers,” Rediger concluded the description of the damage done in abusive congregations with a call to pastors to become fit in body, mind and spirit in order to avoid being vulnerable and unable to deal competently with difficult people and conflicted situations. Fit to Be a Pastor expands on that premise, and the sense of urgency with which Rediger as pastor and pastoral counselor writes about the current unfit state of most congregation leaders.

Pastoral unfitness is a “shared as well as personal problem,” demanding nothing less than the need to “reinvent a healthy, pastoral role based on mind-body-spirit fitness.” This change must begin with an attitude of confession and repentance, followed by healing and then adopting those practices which constitute a healthy lifestyle.

Practical suggestions are included for nutrition and physical exercise, as well as spiritual nourishment and mental stimulation. Both burnout and boredom are described as “wake-up call” indicators of the existence of unfitness and significant damage in an individual.

Above all, Rediger understands unfitness to be a theological issue. How can we open ourselves to God’s purposes and be able to discern God’s calling if we are not willing to commit ourselves to all those daily practices which constitute good stewardship of the body, the mind and the spirit which God has entrusted to us? The author is passionate in his belief that body-mind-spirit fitness is the “best preparation” any pastor can have to meet the challenges of pastoral leadership in today’s confusing and hurting world. His prescription for creating healthy congregations is first to create healthy spiritual leaders.