It is not easy to maintain balance in a busy life. But, just because it’s not easy doesn’t mean it’s not achievable. Stressful, busy periods of ministering to people may be inevitable and can be manageable in the short term. But when we don’t take steps to keep stress levels under control, we can become victims of long-lasting negative consequences.
No matter how much we enjoy and feel called to do what we do, striking a balance between our work and our physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional well-being is essential. Maintaining stable relationships with friends and family, taking time to engage in fulfilling activities, and taking a break from work (i.e., “coming apart and resting a while”) is key to maintaining a quality of life that best serves God, our constituencies, and ourselves.
In a similar way, our approach to health ministry teachings and information should be balanced and reasonable. It is far too easy to become lopsided in our thinking or to hold and cherish an extreme position. Often, we are well intentioned and “right,” but, as mere mortals, we can and do fall prey to deceitfully strong opinions on health reform subjects, especially those related to diet.
As we advocate and practice a balanced lifestyle, so we must practice our health reform position and teaching. Pastors, elders, and health ministry leaders are often confronted by sincere but sometimes misguided brothers and sisters who hold extreme positions. And we, with righteous indignation, may counteract the unbalanced information by moving so far away from it that we end up on the other extreme. It is high time we face the extreme views squarely, but let “our speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer everyone” (Col. 4:6, emphasis added).
Ellen G. White is so often misquoted, misrepresented, and even misunderstood that people take extreme positions based on what they think she said. Our best course is to investigate well what she has said about contentious matters (such as the use of eggs, milk, butter, cheese, flesh foods, coffee, fruits and vegetables together, chocolate, and the like), giving careful consideration and prayerful thought to everything we can find on the matter in her published writings, now freely available online (egwwritings.org). Knowing what was actually written, we can speak and share from a position of fact rather than conjecture.
We can classify what was given to us by God through Ellen White into three groups of instruction and counsel. The first is what she describes as the ideal or best, the most beneficial, and the most highly desirable. Second is the counsel which considers and recognizes conditions that do not permit the ideal; these are exceptional situations in which there is a reasonable but less-than-ideal solution or the best that one can do in those circumstances. Third is those summarizing or concluding statements about the matter under study. In following this method of classifying God’s counsel, we do not overstate, diminish, tarnish, or undermine what may be lifesaving counsel to many, and this will help us avoid becoming extreme in our own views.
Zeno L. Charles-Marcel, MD, is Associate Director of Health Ministries for the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. Used with permission from The Health Connection (GC Health Ministries Newsletter). Sign up to receive this free newsletter at: http://healthministries.com/newsletter.