Improving physical health is in everyone’s best interest. It makes sense. The healthier a person is, the higher their quality of life.

Rising medical costs, our aging population, and new healthcare legislation have made improving physical health even more urgent. One of the oldest health insurance providers is the Presbyterian Church’s Board of Pensions. They have made it their mission to assist their members in achieving improved physical wellness in a progeam called Call To Health. Do you know how healthy you are? Even if you can’t answer with certainty, there are ways to find out.

According to The Pew Research Center report, Americans seek information about health. 50% of smartphone owners have have used their phone to look for health information. 19% of smartphone owners have downloaded a health app. 59% of U.S. adults say they have looked online for information about a range of health topics in the past year. According to the Report, “caregivers are heavy technology users and are much more likely than other adults to take part in a wide range of health-related activities.”

When considering a treatment plan, checking on drug interactions, or managing healthy meal choices, accurate and reliable data is important, and access to the right information at the time of decision is critical. This is where access to technology really helps.

Apple's anticipated iOS Health dashboard.

Apple's anticipated iOS Health dashboard.

Apple recently announced the Fall release of a new operating system for their iPhone and iPad devices. A core new feature is the built-in Health app that would be part of iOS 8. In partnership with the Mayo Clinic, and third-party devices and software, the Health app will help us track and manage our health. Instead of a user launching multiple screens to find the separate information provided by FitbitLoseIt, or the Nike app, for example, with the Health app, a user can go to one comprehensive Health dashboard and see all their health metrics. The right information accessible at the time of decision.

But, that’s all about our physical health. What kinds of indicators and measures would pertain more to our emotional or spiritual health?

We measure what matters, and what we pay attention to can improve our wellness of mind, body and spirit.

What will you pay attention to?

Rev. John Wesley asked members of his Holy Club, “Did the Bible live in me today?”, “Am I enjoying prayer?”, “Am I living in a way that honors God?”, and “When did I last speak to someone else about my faith?”

Centuries later, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. asked his listeners, “What will you do for others?”

Dr. Thomas Chalmers, the famous Presbyterian preacher of the early nineteenth century and the first moderator of the Free Church of Scotland, also knew the importance of paying attention to the right information. As a community preacher, he and his elders visited families and encouraged relationships, but also provided an opportunity to inquire as to the wellness of the family. He asked about finances, helped families set up budgets, made sure folks had access to a doctor, and nurtured intentional spiritual development. Dr. Chalmers would have asked each member of the family, “How is your spirit?”.

In turn of the century Scotland, elders made sure their parishioners were regularly invited into a spiritual “self-examination” prior to celebrating the sacrament of holy communion. These interactions of contextual engagement became the foundation of today’s school of social work. What’s more, assessing wellness and guidance provided the framework for the primary function of Presbyterian ruling elders today.

Presbyterian ruling elders are referred to as ruling elders because they are given the ministry of ruling. But not ruling as in a person who rules over others. Instead, the ruling elder exercises discernment as if holding a ruler, measuring the spiritual health of the congregation. Their work is important and integrate with the role of the pastor, referred to as the teaching elder. The ruling elders measure, and the teaching elders, teach. Simple.

  • What are the most useful parameters concerning emotional and spiritual wellness?
  • How would you track spiritual energy and spiritual satisfaction in your mission?
  • What kinds of behaviors would you track if you wanted to pay attention to spiritual health?
  • What metrics would you want to include in a spiritual health app?

Paying attention to our spiritual health should be simple. To get to simple (for the user), deep thinking and mastery in development and design is required. Physical, emotional, spiritual aspects of a person’s life can be best understood along a continuum. Mind, body, and spirit is a familiar way we convey the human inner life, each affecting the other. The total is You!

By adhering to highly correlated behaviors, one could expect an improved outcome.

We measure what matters, and what we pay attention to can improve our wellness of mind, body and spirit. What will you pay attention to?

Let’s measure up!