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Commentary Search

Spritual fitness a key to success

  • Published
  • By By Maj. Shane D. Pair
  • 188th Fighter Wing chaplain
In today's culture we spend a lot of time talking about our physical fitness. In the military we all know how important it is to stay physically fit. As a matter of fact, it is so important our careers depend on being able to prove we are staying fit. If an individual fails a physical fitness test, then the individual may no longer have the privilege to remain as a member in the Armed Services.

Being physically fit means that we will be able to perform any physical task placed upon us during times of war and peace. It is paramount that each of us stays physically fit to sustain our readiness and a good quality of life.

Another area that we are all aware needs to remain fit is our psyche. We are all cognizant that we need to stay psychologically fit in order to perform at our best level. We know that when something is bothering us and weighs us down mentally, there is a greater chance of an accident, and in the worst case scenario a life can be lost. One of the reasons we have suicide prevention classes, wingman days and a Director of Psychological Health is to ensure we stay psychologically fit. This allows us to be emotionally and mentally healthy to serve our country and perform our duty.

There is another area in our lives we need to make sure we obtain fitness, however, it is an area most of us do not give much consideration. We do not think about it much because, for most of us, it is a private matter and an area of our lives that we do not want people poking around in. That area is our spirituality.

Are we spiritually fit? Your first reaction may be "My faith is my own business," or "What do you mean by spirituality?" I ask that you read on for a few moments.

Many people use the terms religion and spirituality interchangeably, but they are two separate concepts that often overlap. Simply put, religion is a belief system that adheres to a doctrine or doctrines, while spirituality is a personal belief, which may or may not include a belief in God.

Spirituality acts as a filter through which a person sees and interacts with the world. A spiritual or religious orientation is associated with better mental health. It can help increase self-esteem, find meaning in life, improve family and special relationships, decrease drug and alcohol abuse and lead to less sexual promiscuity. Spirituality provides a moral compass to help navigate life. It is faith, for many of us that helps build or inform our spirituality.

Why have I given you, the reader, all this information? As a chaplain, and Christian, I believe if we only take care of our physical and mental bodies, then we are only taking care of two-thirds of who we are. Although this is the majority, it is not enough. I believe it is vital that each of us be aware of our spiritual make-up.

In my faith tradition there is a writer named Paul, and he wrote a letter to his friends in Corinth which says, "Don't you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win. All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified." (1 Corinthians 9:24-27)

If we are truly going to be the people God created us to be, I believe we have to exercise our faith. We have to be people of prayer who are introspective - constantly examining ourselves and our values asking if we are holding true to our core. If you aren't holding true to the core of who you are, then you are not spiritually fit and you will fall short of success. So, as you focus on your physical and mental wellbeing, I ask that you take time to focus on your spiritual wellbeing as well. Take time to read, to pray and to be in fellowship with others. If you will implement these three steps in your life, I believe you will win the race.
See you on the track of life.