Body, Mind & Spirit

Having recently celebrated my fiftieth birthday, I have been reflecting on this half-century milestone and the lessons I have learned.

I have arrived at this juncture in life convinced of a great many things. First, I’m absolutely convinced of God’s amazing grace. In fact, the older I’ve become, the more I find myself having to rely upon grace. I have discovered that I’ve preached more about grace, and have tried to live more deeply in it.

Where would I be without the grace of Christ? And as my world has assumed deeper shades of gray, I’m grateful that God has abided with me through the questions – not just the answers.

I’m also convinced that there is healing, and something intrinsically gospel, about laughter. I’ve discovered that levity is essential in my faith, my family and for a healthy outlook on life.

As I reflect on nearly 30 years of ministry, I’m also more fully aware of how much my wife and children have given. I don’t think I could have survived in this pastoral work for so long without their love and support. In fact, my wife and children have sacrificed so much over the years. They have given up jobs, schools, friends, and many important family days – so that I could attend to the needs of others. I know that other pastors understand this, and I’m grateful for my family’s willingness to sacrifice and make due.

As I look back on my life, I also note that there are two things I have worked at consistently since I was 13 years old – writing and working out. I have never abandoned these disciplines. For nearly 40 years, I have written daily without fail and I also have pressed my body hard with weights and aerobics. In the past 20 years, I have had 20 books published – but all of this success was built upon 25-years-worth of rejections. Had I given up at any point in those first 25 years of failure, I would not have succeeded.

The same thing is true for my physical workouts. With the exception of a few sick days due to flu or cold, I have missed very few workouts in nearly 40 years. I always tell children and teens: you can accomplish much in life if you keep perfecting a craft and never abandon it. Discipline is crucial in life. That’s why I’m a United Methodist.

Finally, I have maintained throughout my life the importance of setting goals. I set new goals each year (along with the steps I will take to achieve them) and this goal-oriented life has served me well in ministry, in marriage, in parenting and in all my endeavors. You can do it too!

Live well. Live strong. Have faith. Never give up.

Todd Outcalt is senior pastor of Calvary UMC in Brownsburg and author of 20 books in six languages and hundreds of articles published in magazines as diverse as Brides, The Christian Century, Leadership, Newsweek, and American Fitness. He has competed in drug-free bodybuilding competitions, kayaks and hikes with his wife, and oddly enough, loves a really good donut.