Balanced Life

The Time Demands to Listen to and the Ones to Ignore


Have you ever been challenged about how much time you spend at work instead of with your family? How much time you spend caring for your kids instead of loving your spouse?

Have you felt guilty about how little time you spend serving? Or in community with friends? Or evangelizing? Or caring for the poor? Or exercising? Or reading?

It’s quite convicting to think of all that we’re not doing well – it seems like so much, right? We feel the tug to just…be… a little… bit… better.

We want a balanced life. But in this pursuit, we’re often forgetting the most important step – the hardest step.

A Little More…

You may have heard the story about a wealthy man who was asked how much money was enough. He replied, “Just a little bit more.” Although the story is probably fictional, it’s a great reminder about our heart’s desire for more, more, more.

We always want to have more. We feel like we should always be doing more.

Think about your family – I bet you feel like you should be doing more.
Think about work – I bet you feel like you should be doing more.
Think about service or ministry or exercise or sleep or spiritual growth – I bet you feel like you should be doing more.

If we zero in on just one single area of our life, we will set ourselves up for failure.

You will want to give more. Do more. Sacrifice more.

Common Sense

But here’s the deal – and this is just common sense – our time is a zero-sum game. Spending more time in one area means less time spent somewhere else.

I feel almost silly typing this because it’s so obvious.

But do you live like this? Have you taken this obvious common sense and applied it to your life?

When you think of an area of your life and feel the pull to spend more time there, can you speak this common sense back to your sense of guilt? Can you tell yourself that saying yes in one place is saying no somewhere else?

If this is such an obvious truth, why aren’t we effortlessly living totally balanced lives?

Know the Judge

Remembering this zero-sum aspect of our time gives us a great deal of responsibility and burden – because what we do matters. But it also gives us some freedom to say no.

The hardest part of that?

Knowing who the judge is.

That’s the key we are often missing.

Look, I love my six-year-old. But if it were up to him I would spend all my waking hours playing board games with him. And sure your boss may talk about a family-friendly environment, but the promotion goes to the guy who put in the extra hours at the office.

If I ask an area of my life how much time it wants, the answer is always more.

“Hey marriage, how much time do you want?”
“Hey exercise, what about you?”
“Ok, what about you, spending time with community?”

Letting the various areas of life pull you in every direction is a recipe for frustration.

Dependence and Wisdom

The good news is that on that final day, I won’t stand in judgment before my six-year old or my boss or my own desire to spend time here or there.

I’ll stand before God.

So he’s the judge.

He’s the one who decides where I spend my time.
What I say “yes” to and what I say “no” to.
How much time I spend on my marriage. On my family. On my work.

Through dependence on him and a search for his wisdom, I can turn to these various areas of my life and tell them that I am not following their way – I am following God.

Photo Credit: Joe Gratz (Creative Commons)

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