I have a preacher routine I follow with little variance every Sunday. I’ve written about it before, so I won’t review it in this post. However, yesterday’s process of preparing to preach was an echo of times past…a time I don’t back upon fondly.

Yesterday I ate breakfast and then stopped by the store for my customary Sunday morning energy drink. I also realized I was out of sleeping pills, so I bought a new package. I look at the drinks and pills in my hand and thought about their paradox.

Both sleep and energy needed.

That’s the pastor’s life–and the life of many parishioners these days. We don’t sleep well and so we need energy, which causes us not to sleep well. I’ve been there, and I may be there again someday. However, one of the breakthroughs in my ministry was when I realized “life” wasn’t causing me to participate in this frenetic cycle–“me” was causing me to do so.

There was a time when I took at least one sleeping pill every night (sometimes it took 2 to get me down), and drank energy drinks and coffee like they were bottles of water. I did it because I felt I had to sustain my pace of life and, in the evening, quiet stress from my mind to the point I could sleep.

Turbo-charge the day, black-out the night.

The truth was I was artificially supporting an unsustainable lifestyle and numbing the deeper causes of stress and sleeplessness. I guess I thought it showed I was a hard worker–and it was necessary to deal with some intense ministry pressures I was wrestling at the time. I lived that way for at least 4 years.

That was then. This is now.

I still love my coffee. But, I sleep just fine most of the time. Yesterday was truly exceptional. Sleeping pills and energy drinks aren’t a way of life for me any more. I can sleep without a sleeping pill most of the time, and I typically drink energy drinks only on Sunday morning. I might drink a small on a Monday afternoon when I need focus and am still working off the Sunday haze. But, if my lifestyle isn’t sustainable, my body will quit on me. I’ll run out of steam. I’ll have to stop…because there won’t be a gillion Red Bulls, cups of coffee, or sleeping pills going in my body.

So, I guess I’ll just have to stop and sleep. I guess I’ll just have to say, “no” to some things. I guess I’ll just have to pay attention to my pace of life and stop living under the illusion I’m a harder worker–when living that way simply makes me a dumber worker. When I realized what I was doing wasn’t normal and stopped, I needed tons and tons of sleep. I had no idea how bone-tired I’d become. I had a quite rude awakening.

That’s a good thing, not a bad thing.

I’m going to guess there are a number of energy addicts out there reading this. Do yourself a favor and learn to manage the energy God’s given you better. It’s better for your health–physical, emotional, and spiritual. There’s nothing wrong with having an energy drink when one is really needed. The same goes for a good cup of coffee–or three 🙂 However, allow God to show you what’s underneath the never-ending quest for sleep and energy.

Is it a form of medicating pain?

Do you work the way you do to avoid dealing with something?

Is it a gender complex–you need to feel like a real man or woman?

Is it pride causing you to think the world will end if you don’t save it?

Today, ask God to show you, and do something about it.