We recognize that no single program can fit the different needs of every individual. Perhaps more than most, ministers have a daily schedule that varies from day to day. Yet, the suggestions given here are important principles for good health and effective ministry. We urge you to seriously consider putting them into practice, adapting where necessary to fit your particular situation. —Editors.
The great religious movement initiated at Oxford by the Wesleys and their associates was dubbed Methodism because the members' program of living, studying, worshiping, and serving was carefully systematized. This enabled them to make the best use of their time.
We would be more successful in our Christian experience and work, and would enjoy better health, if individually we were better organized and our daily program were more methodically scheduled. The following is suggested:
1. Rise early. To make this easier, go to bed earlier the night before. An adult needs only six to eight hours' sleep. Indeed, statistics reveal that, all things being equal, more sleep than this may increase the chance of premature death from heart disease.
2. Upon rising drink two glasses of water. This flushes out the stomach, kidneys, and bladder, and prepares the gastrointestinal tract for breakfast. It also hydrates the system, thus decreasing thirst at mealtime. Repeat well before dinner and supper.
3. Personal devotions. A person should feed the soul before feeding the body. Commune with your Maker when the mind is fresh and there are few distractions. Systematically pursue some Bible topic and a programmed reading of Scripture and quality Christian literature. Don't neglect meditation.
4. Exercise. For those in a predominantly sedentary occupation such as the ministry exercise is an absolute necessity. Most calisthenics are of limited value; exercising the big leg muscles is of more benefit in protecting the heart. Jogging, cycling, or swimming is excellent, but walking is good enough for most people. Walking requires no expensive clothing or equipment, and almost everyone, unless crippled, can walk. Walk at least three miles a day, six days a week. Walk fast and breathe deeply.
5. Bathe. A bath or shower, especially after perspiratory exercise, is important. Bathe daily to cleanse the pores. The steward of the body temple should keep it immaculate.
6. Family worship. The home, like the body, is a temple, and the father is its officiating priest. It is a cliche, but true nonetheless, that the family that prays together stays together—right into the kingdom.
7. Breakfast. This should be the main meal of the day. The stomach has rested during the night and is in the best condition to handle food. A substantial breakfast provides energy for the morning's activities without the need for coffee at ten o'clock or the cigarettes craved by some people whose breakfast has consisted of a hot drink and a sweet roll.
Children, too, do much better at school if they consistently eat a substantial breakfast, and older persons are less nervous through the day after an ample breakfast. Of course, a big meal in the evening will make it difficult to eat a good breakfast the following day. One nutritionist advises: "Eat breakfast like a king, dinner like a prince, and supper like a pauper."
8. The morning work. Having observed and practiced the previous suggestions, a person will be popping with energy and able to do more than merely earn his salary.
9. Dinner. The noon meal should also be substantial. A brief after-dinner walk will aid digestion.
10. The afternoon work. Complete the day's work assignments and upon arriving home . . .
11. Complete the day's exercise. The exercise suggested in number four is best taken in two stages—before breakfast and before supper.
12. Supper. Eat a light supper, including such items as fruit, possibly a little whole-wheat bread, and a low-calorie warm drink. Do not drink much, if any, liquid after supper.
If practical, older and sedentary workers could well manage on two meals a day breakfast and a second meal around two or three o'clock in the afternoon. Such a regimen is admittedly difficult in today's culture. Many, however, eat but two meals a day in actuality, since they merely snack for breakfast. They eat the wrong two meals, with a big dinner and a large supper at night. The big evening meal is more likely to contribute to obesity and also to prevent refreshing sleep.
13. The evening. Make good use of the evening hours. This is the time for family togetherness. Home should be the most attractive place for the children. Make it so.
Be sure evening worship with the family is short and interesting, and adjust it to the needs of all. Encourage the participation of each one. This is the time to review God's providences for the day and to thank Him for the day's blessings.
14. Personal devotions. Just before going to bed, personally pray and commit yourself to God for the night.
15. Retire early. Make it a habit to retire early enough to get your six to eight hours of sleep so that you can be refreshed and up early for the next day's routine. System and regularity are health-promoting and make life much more enjoy able.