Just because you can preach, doesn’t mean you communicate well face-to-face with the people that matter. Herein lies a wealth of amazing insights on the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of our communication habits and how to get right on the inside, so what comes to the outside breeds life.
What do we mean?
Every time a person flies on an airliner, the flight attendant gives instructions in case of a loss of air pressure. First, oxygen masks will emerge. The second instruction tells everyone to put your mask on before helping others. This principle illustrates the heart of a healthy leader. Before you lead others effectively a healthy leader must take care of his or herself first.
Research claims the clergy suffer from obesity, hypertension, and depression at rates higher than the general population. Their use of antidepressants is rising, while their life expectancy is falling. In an increasingly connected world, clergy feel a constant pull to answer the call, not only of the Lord, but of those coming on their cell phones, text messages, and emails at all hours of the day. This constant pull puts strain on missionaries, exacerbated further by not taking time off from their jobs. The vast majority of clergy work more than fifty hours per week, all the while feeling their work and expectations never end. The needs of others that missionaries serve are great and may often take precedence over their own physical, emotional, relational and spiritual health.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (NLT) says, “Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.”
Chi Alpha’s missionaries and volunteers are its greatest resource. In order for Chi Alpha to grow well, our missionaries must also receive resources and support to nurture healthy minds and bodies.
Jesus replied, “The most important commandment is this: ‘Listen, O Israel! The Lord our God is the one and only Lord. And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’ The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’
-Mark 12:29-31 (NLT)
Using this Scripture as our guide, we will focus on four areas as we develop resources for developing health in our leaders.
As leaders, Chi Alpha missionaries learn to lead themselves by keeping their oxygen masks securely fastened in these turbulent days.
May the blessing pronounced in 1 Thessalonians 5:23 (NLT) be our legacy, “Now may the God of peace make you holy in every way, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless until Lord Jesus Christ comes again.”
Vision: We see a thriving community of Chi Alpha leaders balancing body, mind, soul, and strength to produce healthy individuals and families.
We see community of Chi Alpha leaders committed to improving the health and well being of Chi Alpha leaders and their families.
Purpose: To provide coordination and resources for of holistic health services in the Chi Alpha community.
Mission: To utilize the resources of the Chi Alpha family, the health network and the community to nurture the needs of the body, mind and spirit and thereby affecting the overall health of individuals.
The healthy leader is at the heart of organizational health, is the touchstone for organizational health and is the seed that gives rise to individual and organizational health.
The professional literature makes it a point to distinguish between “good stress” and “bad stress.” God encourages us to let our burdens fall on Him. Realizing He is in control and then taking the steps that will lead us to balance will go far in keeping us away from the stress that is destructive.
Key concepts related to emotional health are:
- Balance and boundaries
- Adequate rest
- Sabbath and sabbaticals
- Wise use of time
Activities to develop:
- Meditation on scripture
- Anger management
- Cultural and recreational diversions
- Supportive interpersonal relationships (mentoring/spiritual direction)
- Large doses of good, old-fashioned laughter
A missionary’s spiritual self-care and well-being are interwoven within all of the facets of a person’s health and wholeness, but they are also unique in the role they play in the individual’s innermost life.
Our relationship with God has two components that must be taken into account: self as pastor and shepherd of others and self as simply self. Both are important and ideally they will overlap as much as possible.
Key concepts related to spiritual well-being include the need for:
- Balance (or stability or equilibrium)
- Renewal and wholeness
- Transformation and grace
Activities to develop are:
- Bible study
- Spiritual direction
- Concern for the marginalized
Neglect of one’s intellectual well-being – the self’s need for mental stimulation and growth throughout life – may not lead to dire consequences, but to say that it is less likely to be life-threatening than other forms of well-being, does not take away from its importance in a balanced and overall healthy life.
Relevant key concepts with respect to immediate and life-long intellectual well-being would include, but are not limited to:
- Expanding knowledge
- Scholastic, cultural and community activities
- Continuing education
Activities conductive to intellectual stimulation and growth may be categorized as:
- Single event (reading a book, participating in a book club)
- Short-term (attending a lecture series or training event)
- Longer-term (pursuing an advanced degree)
A missionary must maintain a state of physical well-being: They are working in jobs that are often high in stress and low in physical activity. Their jobs involve irregular work hours and surroundings that include food offerings.
Key concepts would include need to include:
- Balance – boundaries for work and rest
- Renewal – personal times of renewal
- Reserve – sleep and vacations
- Rest – keeping a Sabbath
- Wellness and wholeness – exercise and nutrition
Activities to be considered would be:
- Food (maintaining a healthy diet and weight)
- Exercise and sports (individually and with others)
- Sleep and rest (planning a yearly vacation)
- Health and medical matters (regular medical checkups)
- Sexual purity
Healthy Leaders is one of our priorities or quadrants that create a synergy producing healthy local Chi Alpha groups.
The Healthy Leaders initiative provides monthly blogs to help you have a healthy body, mind, soul, and spirit.
What is a Chi Alpha Caregiver?
“CareGivers” are the Major Component of “UmatterXA” – Chi Alpha’s Member Care Network
Because you, Chi Alpha missionaries and workers, matter, we’ve created a network of trained “CareGivers” from among our Chi Alpha family who serve as volunteers in this effort to be there for you when you most need it. Our effort’s purpose is to nurture a culture of value for our missionaries, staff, and students, creating a clear pathway for getting the help we may need as laborers on the university campus mission field. This is not only to maintain healthy lives but to set a course for recovery when needed.
Essentially, we provide a fully confidential, safe place of contact, care, and encouragement when you need someone to discuss things with or pray with. (However, there are situations where reporting is necessary.)
A CareGiver is not trying to be a counseling therapist or fix your problems in three easy steps. Instead, they will be a friendly colleague ready to discuss whatever is troubling you, focus on moving forward, assess what options you might consider, look at available resources, and provide on-the-spot ministry as the Holy Spirit directs.
Our Chi Alpha CareGivers have been approved and appointed by the Chi Alpha area directors for their region. CareGivers are simply Chi Alpha approved well-informed peers who are available to talk when you need someone to talk to. Whatever you are experiencing, they know about specific resources that are available to you and can get you connected to the appropriate help should you desire. Our intention is for the information shared with the CareGiver to be held confidentially except as required by state or local laws. And of course, they are always ready to listen, pray, and serve you as the purveyors of hope they are meant to be.
Our Chi Alpha Nation family must stand with one another through the highs and lows, wins and losses, whatever comes our way. We are networking our services to provide preventative interaction and personal and tangible support in life’s most trying times.
Help is only a call away! Look over our Chi Alpha CareGivers Directory and locate someone to contact today.
Chi Alpha CareGivers Directory
Chi Alpha Scholarship Funding for Counseling
What the Chi Alpha Scholarship Fund can provide: In response to the need for assisting our affiliates in quality, professional, Christian Counseling Care we’ve partnered with our friends at MCO (MyCounselor.Online) to provide funding for counseling in a preventative effort, as well as when crisis hits!
- The preventative effort comes in the form of an offer for Career Missionaries to receive up to $600 once every four years to complete at renewal a “Healthy Leader Checkup,” which is not so much a set program, but an opportunity to have an MCO counselor work with you and your family, allowing you to determine the who, what, when, where, and how you would like to receive your counseling sessions. It’s all incredibly convenient, online, and is top-notch quality counsel from Biblically-centered Christian counselors under the oversight of Josh Spurlock, founder and director of MCO. (Note: Career Missionaries are Appointed General Missionaries, Career Missionary Associates, and District-Appointed equivalents.)
- The crisis care counseling is there for all Chi Alpha affiliates providing up to $500 per incident (if qualified as a crisis by our staff care specialist—speak to a CareGiver to learn more).
Other counseling options that you pay for:
General Counseling: Even if you don’t qualify for the Chi Alpha scholarship funding, we encourage you to reach out to MCO for your counseling needs. Everyone can get the MCO scholarship pricing of $0 for their first session, then up to five more sessions at $55 per session. Just call their receptionist at 855-755-3797 or click the button below for more information.