It was my first half Ironman and I was “out of gas” physically. After swimming for 1.2 miles, biking for 56 miles, and running 10 miles, I was reduced to a walk with 3 more miles to run. But, there was nothing more in the tank. I was exhausted. Then, I came up on a water stop and since I was walking, I grabbed two cups of cold water and immediately downed them both. I felt the change almost instantly! I was renewed and felt strengthened.
As it turns out, I was so focused on the race that, as crazy as it sounds, I FORGOT to drink. To make matters worse, I skipped some water stops altogether because I felt I didn’t have time to stop. And, with just 3 miles to go, I was experiencing dehydration. Once that cold water hit my system, I was running again. At the next water stop, I drank some sports drink and some more water and found myself running faster. I finished the race faster than I had run most of it!
Ministry is a lot like a race. It’ll take a lot out of you. You can find yourself so busy preaching sermons, counseling marriages, reworking budgets, planning outreaches and the like, that you forget to take in some refreshment for your own soul. You can get so focused on the “race” that you forget to drink. And, if you are like most, you routinely skip the “water stops” – the opportunity to take in refreshment for yourself – so you can serve it to others. So, many of us walk around doing ministry in a state of emotional, if not spiritual, dehydration.
As soon as you finish reading this, stop, and plan a water stop – a time when you are going to pull away and feed your own soul. The best thing you can give the people you serve is not more of you, but a more healthy you. Plan a vacation, a trip away, a series of solitude days – some time to recharge and refresh your soul. Drink!