No, not my relationship status. I’ve been (very) happily married for 17 years.
With coffee. Or, more accurately, caffeine.
On the one hand, I love coffee. The different varieties and their subtle differences. The taste. I even roast my own and love geeking out on all the best equipment. (That I can afford, anyway). Nothing wrong with all that.
On the other hand, sometimes I’m not sure who’s in charge. I’ve had headaches and gotten grouchy when I don’t get my morning joe. I’ve been late to meetings - and even church - in an effort to fit it in.
Maybe your relationship with coffee is complicated, too. Let’s talk about 4 reasons why it’s critical for us, especially as ministry leaders, to consume our coffee (or anything caffeinated) thoughtfully and responsibly.
[I’ve included some simple ways to break free from our caffeine addiction - without giving up coffee - in this short (and free) download].
What’s At Stake
1. Your health is at stake. I’m not cracking down so much on the amount of caffeine you consume. Experts seem to think that adults can safely enjoy up to 400 milligrams each day, roughly equivalent to 4 brewed (8 ounce) cups of coffee. The bigger concern here is that, as busy ministry leaders, we can push and push. And push. We can skimp on the 7-8 hours of sleep we need every night, do too much, and use caffeine to top off our (empty) tanks.
2. Your credibility is at stake. The people we serve rightly expect us to live lives of greater integrity than the average Christian. Paul said, for example, that ‘every athlete exercises self-control in all things… but I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified’. (1 Corinthians 9:27) If he didn’t exercise self-control, he couldn’t ask others to listen to what he taught. Neither can you. If caffeine owns us, how can we encourage others to be owned by God?
3. Your fruitfulness in ministry is at stake. If you’re like me, you got into ministry because you wanted to change the world for God. The results are up to God, but we should expect to see some fruitfulness from our efforts, right? John the Baptist told his listeners, for example, to ‘bear fruit in keeping with repentance… every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire’. (John 3:8,10) But if people don't respect us, they won't listen to us, and the fruit of our ministry is in jeopardy.
4. Your relationship with God is at stake. I know, I know - it sounds like I’m being dramatic. I’m not… suggesting that your salvation is at stake. God’s got that, regardless of how much we fail (see Romans 8:28).
But the quality of our relationship with God is related to the choices we make, just load in any relationship. If we’re routinely missing out on sleep in an effort to accomplish more, for example, that’s a deeply spiritual, gospel issue.
As ministry leaders, we can be a lot like much of professional, corporate America, relying on what we do to find our value. Instead of what God has done once and forever in Christ on our behalf. ‘He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior’ (Titus 3:5-6).
This is the heart of the Christian life. If there’s one thing we - and the people we serve - need to get and grow into - it’s this. With God’s help, we’ve got to lead out here. And not just in theory (I believe this), but in practice (I believe this and show it by the way I live it out, however imperfectly).
With God’s help, we can. There's way too much at stake to let coffee get in the way.
Let’s live it out: Describe your relationship with caffeine. If ‘it’s complicated’, in what ways could it be more healthy?
Bryan Stoudt is a pastor in Philadelphia, and blogs about learning to follow Jesus in a noisy, broken world at bryanstoudt.com. He is absolutely crazy about all things coffee. If you want 8 simple tips about reconsidering your relationship with caffeine, you can get them with this short (and free) download bonus.
Photo Credit: Noelle Buske via Compfight cc