-Written by the Very Rev. Benjamin A. Shambaugh, Dean of the Cathedral
In my role as a United States Coast Guard chaplain, I am responsible for the spiritual fitness, readiness and resilience of the people in my care. You could say the same about my role as a priest. Like physical fitness spiritual fitness helps people fulfill the mission they have been given. You could say the same thing about the church.
What, however, does Spiritual Fitness look like? Building on extensive research, the Uniformed Services University measures Spiritual Fitness using three criteria:
1) An individual’s personal connection to a higher power.
2) An individual’s pursuit of meaning, purpose and values.
3) An individual’s willingness to serve and sacrifice for the greater good. The goal is a person with the strength of spirit that allows mission accomplishment with honor.
A spiritually fit person is engaged in life’s meaning and purpose, hopeful about life and the future, makes sound moral judgment, is engaged with family, friends, and the wider community, is able to forgive self and others, is respectful of others and engaged in core values and beliefs.
Spiritual fitness can be difficult to achieve, even if you are involved in a faith community. The UniformedServices University offers a few simple strategies to help:
1) Be grateful. What are you thankful for and how will you show it? What do you want to make sure you do not take for granted?
2) Serve others. What personal strengths and gifts can you share? What’s one thing you can do today to make the world a little better?
3) Overcome challenges: What do you need to accept? Where can you take action? Who or what helps give you strength to persevere and grow?
4) Forgive yourself and others. What anger, pain, guilt, or hatred do you want to release? What can you learn?
5) Live your values. What values do you want to live out? What drives you to be your best? What are your temptations? How can you avoid them?
6) Connect with something greater. How will you take time to engage with something larger than yourself? How can you meaningfully connect with others and with a higher power? Your spiritual fitness is healthier if you practice your faith, beliefs and activities that support your spirituality.
Though the church might use slightly different vocabulary, our underlying message is very much the same. How is your own spiritual fitness? Like physical fitness, spiritual fitness takes work. Like physical fitness, it is worth it. Try taking on these strategies. If you are interested, contact one of the clergy. Our goal is to help you better live out the mission God has given you. Spiritual fitness is a step in that direction!