The idea of finding balance seems really important to me these days. I certainly haven’t achieved it yet. For that matter, I’m not sure I will ever find complete balance in my life. However, I’m working hard at it and really making steps toward improvement.
Balance seems to be something we all strive for but have a difficult time achieving. Below are my notes from a conference session in which I spoke about this difficult topic. As you can see, I tried to come at this from both a practical and spiritual angle. I hope you find them helpful. Please comment and add any thoughts or other helpful steps toward maintaining balance.
Practically Maintaining the Balance
Accept the pressure as a sign of vitality.
This is a matter of perspective. Rather than viewing the tension created by competing demands on our time as a problem, we can view it as a sign of vitality in our lives. The only people completely free from stress are the dead. Combine commitments when possible. By combining commitments, it’s possible that rather than competing against each other, our various responsibilities can actually complement one another.
Be accountable to others.
By being open and accountable, we can let others help us recognize when we’ve become out of balance. People who know us well and observe our lives on a regular basis can usually tell us when we’re getting out of balance better than we can for ourselves.
Schedule personal appointments with your family.
You get the necessary things done at work probably because, for the most part, you’ve scheduled them. You know what time you’re supposed to be there, what time your deadlines are due, and when your appointments are. A real secret in living the balanced life as God has planned is to schedule the other areas of your life too.
Place emphasis on the highest priorities.
In times of high demand on our energy, emphasis is best placed on activities of the highest priority; lesser priorities may have to be allowed to slide. For example, even though ______ is important, when time is at a premium, tough choices have to be made, and I have to decide that time spent with my family is more important than _______.
Give up perfectionism.
The habit of perfectionism is time consuming and can be counterproductive. Rather than steal time from other commitments to cross every t and dot every i in a particular job, work as hard as you can in the time available and then move on.
Work faithfully at your job.
You are serving God and not men (Colossians 3:23). But with that said, people are watching. For better or worse, much of their impression of Christianity and/ or ministers will be based on the quality of your work and of your relationship with them.
There are men and women who work no more than a 40-hour week and never take a briefcase home. Then there are others who work a 60-hour week and always take a briefcase home. Studies say there is no difference, and a large part of the secret lies in delegation.
Just say no!
The more responsibility you have, the more you will be asked to do. This applies at work, home, and church. Set priorities and then say no when necessary. You may disappoint people: your supervisor, your friends, and possibly even your church. But if you don’t say no, you won’t survive.
Spiritually Maintaining the Balance
Christ is Lord of all.
Be cautious in compartmentalizing your life into individualized categories (i.e. ministry, family, etc.). Your personal life needs to impact your public ministry and vice versa. In addition, your family needs to be involved in your ministry. The more you strive to integrate your “life categories,” the less tension there is between them.
God is sovereign.
He is the one who will ultimately determine our survival and success at work. Being egocentric, we can think that if we just work those few extra hours and get that extra project done, we will survive or even succeed. It is liberating to know that all this is in God’s hands.
Every person inevitably encounters problems and frustrations. We need to pray and depend on God, using the problem as an opportunity to grow closer to God and see Him work. God can increase our efficiency at work to free up adequate time and energy for ministry and family.
Be wise as serpents.
Gain wisdom on topics such as time management, mentoring, and delegation. Look to both Christian and secular books. Many of the principles in secular books can be adapted to help us further the kingdom.
Take the long view.
Look at life through the wide lens.
Resources Used For This Session:
- Balancing Church, Family, and Career: Lay leaders explain how they maintain that essential but elusive equilibrium by Larry K. Weeden
- Balancing Work, Leisure and Faith: Practical prescriptions for getting balance and avoiding extremes by Timothy Smith
- Balancing Act by Ross McKenzie
This article was originally published on 10/18/2007.