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The Right Road: Life Choices for Clergy

The Right Road: Life Choices for Clergy

Many clergy are in startlingly bad health. Not only do they regularly report depression, stress, and serious family and financial problems, they also exhibit higher than normal incidences of obesity, high cholesterol levels, inactivity, high blood pressure, and heart disease. How effective can professionals in ministry be with such debilities and vulnerabilities? Are clergy too busy helping others to take care of themselves?

Gwen Halaas's caring and savvy book addresses clergy health directly: clergy have a spiritual as well as physical need to care for themselves, to live to the fullest, to ensure that they enjoy the life and gifts God gave them. Building her brief, practical book around the wellness wheel, Halaas emphasizes not just healthy eating but a whole array of life-affirming choices for clergy. Halaas provides the tools for clergy to choose growth and well-being over burnout and decline. With this practical and upbeat volume, clergy can begin to put their own lives in perspective and ''keep [themselves] in training for a godly life'' (1 Timothy 4:7).
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  • Publisher Fortress Press
  • Format Paperback
  • ISBN 9780800636579
  • eBook ISBN 9781451409192
  • Age/Grade Range Adult
  • Dimensions 5.5 x 8.5
  • Pages 128
  • Publication Date May 18, 2004


''Every pastor in America needs a copy of this book—STAT! This resource fills a huge gap on seminary bookshelves. Dr. Halaas, a physician who is expert in wellness protocol, also has great understanding of the unique challenges facing clergy today. Suitable for use by individuals or clergy groups, this book provides a wealth of data and suggestions for improving the personal health of America's ministers, who far too often sacrifice their own health and well-being (and that of their family), to serve the pressing needs of others.''
— The Rev. Deborah L. Patterson, Executive Director, International Parish Nurse Resource Center, and author of The Essential Parish Nurse: ABCs for Congregational Health Ministry

''The special needs for clergy wellness are well-documented, and Dr. Halaas provides a comprehensive road map for initiating healthy change. 'The Right Road' can help clergy find the balance needed to strengthen their ministry and their lives.''
— William S. Craddock Jr., Managing Director of CREDO Institute

''The Right Road is like 'mapquest' for anyone who wants to be a healthy leader enhancing lives. If you are thinking about having a more balanced lifestyle this provides great directions for you. If you are headed in the wrong direction and need to make a U-turn, Dr. Halaas provides a prescription for you. If you are making plans to begin a healthier life, you'll find helpful tips and suggestions. If you are well on your way to a healthier life you'll find inspiration (along with your perspiration) to 'fight the good fight, to run the race.'''
— The Rev. Ronald T. Glusenkamp, ELCA Board of Pensions, Vice President-Customer Outreach, author of Sign for These Times (CPH)

''Gwen Wagstrom Halaas' experiences as a family physician and wife of a pastor have given her a keen understanding of the many physical, emotional, and spiritual challenges facing today's clergy. She understands how the demands of ministry make it difficult for clergy to take proper care of themselves. In The Right Road Dr. Halaas offers valuable advice that clergy can use to enhance their own health and to lead their congregations in ministries of health and healing. This is a book that should be read by every pastor and by congregational leaders concerned about the health and well-being of clergy.''
— W. Daniel Hale, co-author of Healing Bodies and Souls: A Practical Guide for Congregations

''The Right Road is the right book at the right time.''

The Right Road is a detailed guide for the entire religious community to focus on how to live and die well. Through its workbook approach of questions, and simple lists and tools, The Right Road can be a resource for congregations to practice a more healthful way of caring...for each other, their pastor and themselves.''

''An important resource for every congregation interested in enhancing and supporting their pastor and each other to a healthier road of life.''
— Barbara A. Boigegrain, General Secretary, United Methodist Church General Board of Pension and Health Benefits

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
    The Story of RL
    The Wholeness Wheel
    What Is Health?
    The Importance of Self-Care
    Sarah's Story: RL's Wife
  2. Physical Well-Being: A Healthy Body
    Keep Your Body Physically Active
    Feed Your Body Healthy Food
    Give Your Body Adequate Rest
    Have a Healthy Sex Life
  3. Emotional Well-Being: A Healthy Mind
    Recognize Stress and Develop Coping Skills
    Susan, RL's Administrive Assistant
    Welcome Change and Learn How to Adapt
    Learn How to Prevent Depression and Recognize Its Signs
    Work at Being Happy
    Greg: Assistant to the Bishop
  4. Intellectual Well-Being
    Exercise Your Mind
    Lifelong Learning
    Daughter Deborah
  5. Social/Interpersonal Well-Being: High-Quality Personal Relationships
    Love God
    Love Yourself
    Love Your Family
    Love Your Neighbors
    Mutual Ministry
  6. Vocational Well-Being
    Seek Fulfillment in Your Vocation
    Be Confident in Your Calling
    Leave a Legacy
    Manage Time Well
    Understand the Purpose of Work
    Grow in Your Profession
    Update on RL
  7. Spiritual Well-Being
    Be Knowledgeable about Your Faith
    Practice Your Faith
  8. Living Well
    Prepare for Illness
    Manage Your Illness
    Dying Well
    A Prescription for Your Health
    Ten Best Practices for Health and Wellness
    RL's Sabbatical
  9. Health and Wellness in Public Ministry
    Self-Care: Pastor or Physician
    Healthy Habits
    Wellness Planning or Activities
    Lifelong Learning
    Spiritual Growth
    Pastor Mary
  10. The Gift of Ministry
    Qualities of Good Ministers
    Congregational Expectations of Pastors
    Change and Challenges
    Leadership Style
    The Gift of Ministry
Appendix: Wellness Guide
Fur Further Reading