Lessons from a Coffee Drinker

Brazilians know how to drink coffee: North Americans don’t. Having drunk coffee regularly with Brazilians for nearly 25 years, I always suspected they did it the right way. Now there is scientific proof.

Dr. James Wyatt at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago determined that if you drink just a few ounces of coffee every hour throughout the day, instead of a large amount first thing in the morning, it will keep you alert all day long.

That is, of course, exactly how Brazilians drink their cafezinho: a small two-ounce cup, filled with strong espresso coffee and plenty of sugar. In cities you are never more than a minute’s walk from a stand or shop where you can get your hourly dose. Every visitor to a business or government office is handed a cafezinho the moment the visit starts. Steady little shots of caffeine all day long. In contrast, we 110 million North American coffee drinkers start our day with an extra large Tim Horton’s or Starbucks to get our morning jolt. Now Dr Wyatt tells us we’re doing it all wrong.

We do like to go for the Big Event, don’t we? And not just in coffee drinking either. We tend to go for the strong focus, the major push, and the all out effort, but avoid the slow, steady, daily, drip, drip, drip of continued action. We are event oriented, not process focused.

Many would-be authors get hugely inspired at a writers’ conference and start writing a book, but then after a while — seven chapters in my case — the sheer dailyness of it all dries up the inspiration and the book goes into the bottom drawer for good.

Think of how much time, effort, planning and expense people put into their wedding. But what about their marriage? I have met couples who desperately needing to learn about marriage who refuse to buy and read a good marriage book because, “It’s too expensive, and besides we don’t have time to read.”

Exercise clubs and spas flourish because they know people will buy a membership, start a program full of good intentions, but after a few weeks drop out.

I know Christians who spend hours in church on Sunday, getting their full 16 ounces of worship, teaching, prayer and fellowship, but never open their Bibles the rest of the week.

There is nothing wrong with a major kick-off event. I remember giving my life to God to be a missionary. It was a major emotional and spiritual event in my life. But that was followed by nearly fifty years of thousands of little, daily decisions — small acts of obedience in the same direction.

This required daily re-commitment, scheduling, planning and discipline. You know, the sort of things few of us can do without help from other people. We need encouragement, practical help, and someone to whom we are accountable.

Inscribe Christian Writers Fellowship is where I got the help to restart my first book and keep writing every day. My third book has just been published. I could not have done it without the encouragement of other Inscribe writers.

And, of course, my hourly dose of coffee. Time for one right now.

This post is my contribution to the ‘Inscribe Summer Blog Tour’. For more about the tour, a blogging schedule, or to find out how to join Inscribe, go to the above blog tour link. If you leave a comment, you will also be eligible for some great prizes!

Readers who receive my posts by email: Please comment by emailing me. jack_popjes@wycliffe.ca

7 thoughts on “Lessons from a Coffee Drinker

  1. Jack – great analogies. I've heard it said that if some people invested as much time and money in their marriage as in their wedding, the divorce rates would be a lot lower. And maybe, likewise, if we're willing to take the effort to travel to a conference, we should also be willing to take the effort to apply what we learn at that conference. (Ahem, I think I'll go dig out my conference notebook… 🙂

  2. Essentially the age old story of the tortoise and the rabbit – an age old ongoing challenge applicable to most areas of life.

  3. You know, that makes a lot of sense! People would be much more productive if they drank coffee that way. Me, I drink tea 😉

    My last large dose of writers-caffiene was at the 2009 inscribe fall conference. (I met you…I was the one with the little baby) I was very excited to get back into writing after a 7-year break. Of course, after a while, I fizzled out. But then this January, I got some more incouragement from some Inscribe members, which is coming a few ounces at a time now, so my enthusiasm is back up, and I'm actually getting stuff done!

  4. Hi Jo,
    I do remember you, mostly because of the baby, not too many of those at Inscribe conferences! Hey, I like your Frequent Ounces of Encouragement, we could use that as a slogan!

  5. JDJ, I knew there was something ancient about my blog post topic! but I thought it was something biblical.

  6. Jack, congratulations on persevering with the books!

    The coffee-dose idea is new to me, but what I most appreciate about this post is the call to "thousands of little, daily decisions — small acts of obedience in the same direction"… for life, and for writing.

  7. Hi Jack, How I relate to the planning and discipline that you mention and most of all accountability. I think we have to be accountable to God don't we. Currently I'm working on a huge project. Reading letters sent by a missionary to her family when she was in India. The letters span 40 years starting in 1945. My job is to write a book about her life. I've not been consistent on working at it. But you've caused me to knucle down and be diligent. Thank you

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