I just want to find the balance between work and home. School and family. Church and friends. Name the conflict and you have probably desired the balance needed to make peace with your competing priorities.. But did you find it? Did you sustain it? The answer is probably no. And if you did…it didn’t take long to lose your balance again.
Maybe the reason we don’t find sustainable balance is because the idea of “balance” doesn’t exist. It doesn’t exist because I would argue that life can’t be balanced. I look in the Bible, and there is no reference to trying to find and maintain balance. I look to Jesus and many actually thought he was out of balance on many occasions.
I am going to burst a traditional bubble here. Although it’s no question God is of upmost importance and his family meant a lot to Jesus, He didn’t seem to live with the mantra of “God first; family second; and work third.” I don’t know where we got this idea but Jesus didn’t seem to live this way. Jesus’ family was not always more important than His ministry. Three Gospels give us a snapshot into the life of Jesus when He is teaching great crowds and his mother and brothers show up and ask him to finish ministry and come home. See the Scriptures below:
“As Jesus was speaking to the crowd, his mother and brothers were outside, wanting to talk with him. Someone told Jesus, “’Your mother and your brothers are outside, and they want to speak to you.’” Matthew 12:46-47 (NLT).
Upon hearing this request, Jesus refuses to even come to the door. Why? Because He was in the middle of His work! But that didn’t mean that in the middle of critical ministry Jesus wasn’t aware of the needs of His family. While on the cross, Jesus was very concerned about the care of his mother and his closest disciple:
“When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Dear woman, here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” John 19:26-27 (NIV).
My point is this: instead of shuffling between two competing loyalties that must be balanced, what if we saw them as a complementary rhythm. Instead of trying to priortitize the “pie slices” of your life what if we made it about the whole pie. What if we moved it from being “Jesus then family then work” to being simply Jesus and me, family, work, etc. Because if it’s “Jesus and…” then my life simplifies into one simple pursuit of Jesus. Jesus becomes my whole life and not a slice of life. Because if I simply make Jesus my focus, then Jesus gets my attention and my family, work, ministry etc automatically gets my affection ALL at once.
Choose these 5 words to simplify your life:
1. Cadence (not balance)
God gives us a cadence or in other words a “rthythm” and it’s called grace. As mentioned earlier, there is a beautiful rhythmic flow to life when we discover that when I simply love Jesus that I acquire a “pace” with life that doesn’t leave me stressed out or fatigued. When I think of the different parts of my life that I need to manage, it can become overwhelming to me. The difference is that I start trying to maintain balance with God rather than walking with God. If I’m not walking with the cadence of Jesus, the important parts of my life become annoyances, inconveniences and distractions. In other words, my relationships start to annoy me, my ministry becomes an inconvenience and my job becomes a distraction. Nothing seems right. But there's good news when Jesus gives us rhythm. Jesus says it best,
28-30 “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Matthew 11:28-30
2. Synergize (not prioritize)
Priorities are real. They are everywhere. When it comes to key areas of self, work, relationships, church, family, etc. these areas are not just uniquely connected, and are also at times uniquely in opposition to each other at times. While being loyal to these priorities, it’s critical we cooperate with these priorities. This synthesization of these commitments is not impossible. Jesus doesn't want you to be concerned about your priorities because He knows what you need and what to do:
Don’t be concerned about what you eat, drink, etc…don’t worry about such things. These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers all over the world but your Father already knows your needs. Seek the Kingdom fo God above all else and He will give you everything you need.” Luke 12:29-31.
God puts your priorities in order by saying, “above all else.” Many things trying to get our attention but there is one that is far ahove them all (Ephesians 1:21) so when you seek the one thing he gives you everyting.
3. Harmonize (not equalize)
Harmony is when things are in agreement. Think music for a second. It’s not one note but different notes that are exclusive but come together to make a beautiful sound. No great composer chooses to give equal time to each note in the scale. The composer chooses to position the notes together so they can work together to create a moving melody. The best harmony comes from alignment to the melody and that melody is the Father’s will (Luke 2:49). When Jesus had competing priotrities of family, ministry and life, the Josheph and Mary heard noise but Jesus made a beautiful harmony that was God’s perfect will for everyone.
4. Concession (not competition)
We love healthy competition…but not when it’s between two things we love. Don’t make me choose between what I love to do and who I love to be with. Because sometimes it simply can’t be either or. I love to be a father and I love to be with my wife. Both are important but don’t make me choose between them. And why should we…they both are family so I "concede" and choose family because when I choose family I get both. That's concession and the same is when following Jesus. So I’ve stopped competing and started seeking. Jesus made it simple by saying this, “Seek first the Kingdom of God and all these things will be added unto you" (Matthew 6:33). So I’ve stopped competing and started simply seeking. Because when I “seek first” I live a life of “first things first” which miraculously orders my life.
5. Faithfulness (not busyness)
We confuse busyness with progress. We think activity is productivity. Not always true. In a culture that values action, Christ is more concerned about finding you faithful than busy. Consider yourself blessed when you have a wife, kids, ministry, job, friends, etc. These gifts are not responsibilities to be balanced but opportunities to be faithful. Give yourself permission to be out of balance. Whether you are a student, mom, entrepreneur, coach, teacher, father, pastor, leader…give yourself permission to be out of balance and respect the season. At the end of the day, success is obedience to God in it’s simplest form so be a faithful person not a busy person.