What I Learned From Churchill About Conservation of Energy
I once read that Winston Churchill was famous for working from his bed during daylight for as long as possible. He also took a nap every day. He worked from bed for one reason: He wanted to conserve his energy. I suppose he meant his physical energy, but I also wonder if it wasn’t an attempt to conserve his emotional energy as well. Staying in bed would enable him not to have interactions with others or to participate in meetings. He could control his schedule and what he devoted his energy to for as long as possible.
I also try to conserve my energy by not committing my heart or creative energies to activities that drain me and don’t replace what they usurp. For example, I pretty much stopped watching the local football team on TV because I know how I am. If they win, I’m okay, but if they lose and lose badly, then I am no good for the rest of the day. I know my boundaries and what I have to do to direct my energy to those projects that God has assigned me to do.
The same was true for the recent American election. I voted as a good citizen should, but I did not devote much energy to the election itself. I did not watch the debates, did not make one post on any social media about anything political, and read as few of others’ entries as possible. Was that because I didn’t care? Absolutely not! I know my boundaries, so it was better for me to conserve my creative energy and direct it to other activities.
What kind of activities?
I finished editing the third volume of my New Testament commentary series entitled Live the Word. I also worked on about a dozen other books for my publishing company. I made a trip to Kenya in October, and I am teaching three classes, two undergraduate and one online graduate course. Those courses require a lot of “me,” but if I give myself away to other causes, i cannot do what God wants me to do.
If there is a verse that goes with this philosophy, it would be Proverbs 4:23: “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” I have to guard my heart if I am going to be productive and that means I cannot fret and fume over situations not to my liking. That makes me think of another passage that states, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7). I need God’s peace to guard my heart so I can give Him my best and not the leftovers after I am wrung out and drained over some societal or entertainment issue.
I am not writing against being involved in or watching football, politics, movies, social causes, or business. I know myself, however, and I must be careful. People regularly ask me, “How do you do all that you do?” Part of the answer is that I protect my heart and try not to react to opinions or trends around me that will certainly debilitate me.
So, what have you given your heart to that isn’t in your best interests of those of your God-given purpose? What could you do with the emotional and creativity energy that is being siphoned off to family drama, soccer standings, or the irrationality of the people around you. I encourage you to be like Winston Churchill and conserve your energy for those things that only you can do, and leave the distractions to someone else. As you do, you will find yourself happier, or at least not as drained when those things to which you give your heart don’t go your way. Have a blessed week!
Originally published on The Monday Memo