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Work-Life Balance

Life presents a bevy of competing time demands. Dealing effectively with this challenge necessitates making priorities and frequently re-evaluating them. It’s a balancing act.
By ANDY BILELLO
Read Time: 7 minutes

I keep an itemized to-do list in my head. “The List” includes upcoming deadlines for projects and scheduled events at work, ecclesial responsibilities and family obligations: whether a school activity, a family birthday celebration or simply running an errand. Life presents a bevy of competing time demands. Dealing effectively with this challenge necessitates making priorities and frequently re-evaluating them. It’s a balancing act. There’s no one size fits all approach. For me, family, ecclesia and work are the three primary focal points. I periodically sort through the list to decide what has high priority and schedule appropriate time for each.

THE PRINCIPLE OF BALANCE

While achieving balance is seldom easy, I believe it is possible. There’s no single moment when we can feel satisfied our life is in perfect adjustment. But we can embrace the challenge and effort it takes to attempt balance. In my experience, people find themselves most out of adjustment and less happy in life when they don’t give regular thought to striving for balance.

Every aspect of our life impacts our spiritual development

A commitment to a balanced decision-making process can be an invaluable influence in our life. The Bible illustrates this principle as follows: “A just weight and balance are the LORD’S: all the weights of the bag are his work.” (Prov 16:11). Surely the passage above is intended to teach us more than business ethics. The visual of adjusting weights on a scale to determine a fair commercial transaction is also used to represent how we make choices.

Intellectually, we weigh the relative importance, personal desire and required effort in deciding how to dedicate our time and energy. The timeless wisdom of Proverbs offers insight regarding the priorities we select. When Scriptural principles properly influence these priorities, we tend to make wiser decisions.

Proverbs 16:11 indicates “all weights” are the LORD’s concern. This means every aspect of our life impacts our spiritual development. God cares about our total person. All activities influence our character and ultimately our relationships with family, ecclesial members, friends, co-workers, neighbors and most especially the LORD. Although we may attempt to compartmentalize our different life activity boxes, these areas encroach upon one another. Mercifully, the LORD evaluates each of us as a whole person.

The story of Belshazzar in Daniel 5 is a dramatic example of this principle in action. The chapter describes the self-indulgent King of Babylon hosting a grand celebration while defiling the symbols of worship looted from the Temple in Jerusalem. During this great feast, God’s hand appeared in frightening fashion to write on the palace walls. The writing indicated to Belshazzar he had been “weighed in the balances and found wanting.” (Dan 5:27 ESV).

God cares about our total person.

The LORD had weighed (or considered) the actions, intentions and resulting character of Belshazzar. By the LORD’s measure he had not lived up to the standard. Therefore, his life’s work no longer served the LORD’s purpose. Scripture tells us an individual motivated by the LORD’s principles understands they are evaluated as follows:

“Let me be weighed in a just balance, and let God know my integrity!” (Job 31:6 ESV).

Job welcomed an investigation of his life. He was confident the LORD’s evaluation would recognize the uprightness of his character. Job’s statement highlights the believer’s need to integrate varied roles and responsibilities. The man— or woman—of God is not afraid to be weighed in the balances, for they make adjustments to keep the scales of their life properly balanced.

MAINTAIN BALANCE BY KEEPING FOCUS

The Bible encourages us to develop self-discipline (i.e., focus). The best way to practice balanced decision making is to maintain our focus on God’s principles. We enhance our skill at sorting through priorities by never losing sight of the most basic, yet profound, lessons. Scripture instructs,

“Do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go.” (Josh 1:7 NKJV).

A specific choice might push you to one side of the path or the other.

The LORD inspires us to keep our focus by not becoming distracted or veering off course. “Do not turn… to the right hand or to the left,” is a word picture describing a disciple’s journey in life. The image of balancing scales is not only a reference to how God can judge us, it’s how we make decisions. The image is of an individual moving forward through life without deviating from a chosen path.

Work-life balance is an ongoing process. A specific choice might push you to one side of the path or the other. However, a commitment to God’s word gives us the information and inspiration needed to properly focus on our journey. If we apply lessons from Scripture, we will minimize distractions and remain on the figurative road to the Kingdom, “Let your eyes look straight ahead, And your eyelids look right before you.” (Prov 4:25 NKJV).

Do your best to maintain a spiritual attitude in all things. The disciple committed to balance keeps their footing firm through attentiveness to individual steps or decisions as follows:

“Ponder the path of your feet, And let all your ways be established. Do not turn to the right or the left; Remove your foot from evil.” (Prov 4:26-27 NKJV).

Achieving balance is fundamentally a healthy process. The experience we gain over time fine-tunes our focus and helps guide us to make good choices.

WORK INVOLVES DEDICATION NOT OBSESSION

The Bible encourages us to demonstrate a strong work ethic and become industrious,

“The lazy man does not roast what he took in hunting, But diligence is man’s precious possession.” (Prov 12:27 NKJV).

It is reasonable for believers to have ambition or seek some measure of satisfaction in their professional lives,

“Do you see a man who excels in his work? He will stand before kings; He will not stand before unknown men.” (Prov 22:29 NKJV).

A person who is effective in conducting their business can deservedly receive praise for performance. There is nothing wrong with working diligently and achieving success—financial or other—often evidence of wisdom and diligence in practice. Balance is recognizing worldly achievement should not become an obsession. However, such an attitude could easily ignore the needs of others.

“There is one who makes himself rich, yet has nothing; And one who makes himself poor, yet has great riches. The ransom of a man’s life is his riches, But the poor does not hear rebuke.” (Prov 13:7-8).

We should work “heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men,” (Col 3:23-24), and provide for ourselves and families. But those efforts should not come at the expense of good character or reputation. Rather, our definition of success should include a genuine interest to influence others for good and to glorify God (1 Cor 10:31).

We need to guard against becoming obsessed with wealth or its imagined lifestyle. A certain of amount ambition is not sinful. But greed, the excessive desire for wealth, has always been a weakness of the human condition (Prov 1:19; 1 Tim 6:10).

find a happy medium regarding riches

How do we avoid an unhealthy attitude regarding money and possessions? It is critical to ask ourselves questions periodically in the process of self-examination to remind us where we’re going and who we are. For example: Do we treat money and possessions as resources? It is reasonable to gain resources to support ourselves and provide for others. However, it is not in the best interest of our spiritual development to vigorously pursue something Scripture reminds us is only temporary,

“Do not overwork to be rich; Because of your own understanding, cease! Will you set your eyes on that which is not? For riches certainly make themselves wings; They fly away like an eagle.” (Prov 23:4-5 NKJV).

God’s Word offers an ideal example of a balanced attitude toward money and possessions,

“Give me neither poverty nor riches—Feed me with the food allotted to me; Lest I be full and deny You, And say, ‘Who is the Lord?’ Or lest I be poor and steal, And profane the name of my God.” (Prov 30:8-9 NKJV).

In this passage Agur asks the LORD to help him find a happy medium regarding riches. We would do well to echo this request, not to be so wealthy we neglect God and assume success is completely of our own making. Nor should we be in desperate poverty that we might resort to theft or harm others to survive. The wisdom of Proverbs reminds us to seek balance in our lives with the LORD’s assistance.

THE DAILY BALANCING ACT

Sometimes it seems we are precariously dancing on a tightrope. Periods of high-stress and an accumulation of competing demands can create serious challenges to our work-life balance. Missteps will occur, but we can always regain our balance. The boundaries between work and home life have never been more blurred than in our present age. The technology we enjoy comes with mixed blessings.

scheduling plays a key role in providing balance

The ease of modern communication with e-mails, text messages, cell phone calls and other devices, allows opportunities to work remotely. However, the flexibility to spend more time at home with family or to travel can be offset by increased expectations to respond to work requests or task completion non-stop. A supervisor or work associate can contact you at any time and anticipate an immediate reply. Increasingly, people find themselves catching up with e-mails and work responsibilities at late hours.

For many, workday now requires cutting into their personal, family or ecclesial time. The evolving work environment requires adjustments on our part to maintain a proper work-life balance. The most practical approach is to manage our time by clearly establishing priorities. In my experience, scheduling plays a key role in providing balance. I often look ahead over a period of weeks, or a month, and simply list what I need to do by asking a series of questions.

Here are a few examples from my “List”:

  • Do I have any travel for work?
  • Are there any work projects with deadlines?
  • Does my daughter have sporting events?
  • Does my son need help with schoolwork?
  • Do I have any exhortations or Bible classes to prepare?
  • Do I make necessary time to pray?
  • Do I need to do maintenance at the ecclesial hall?
  • Do our cars need service?
  • Who is shopping for groceries this week?
  • What do I want to do to relax—go out to dinner as a family, catch up with a friend, etc.?

The potential variables are virtually endless and unique for each individual, but the process remains consistent. Give thought to what needs to be done over a defined period, make a list and establish priorities. This method can help us to properly allocate our time and attention. I do this to some degree daily. Conceptually, it’s not difficult, though implementing it can be challenging. But I find the idea of making “balance” as one of my priorities to be quite helpful.

We must never stray from our spiritual values and the all-important relationship we are developing with the LORD. If we do our best to maintain a spiritual attitude in every circumstance, then we will find balance far more often than not,

“A false balance is an abomination to the Lord, but a just weight is his delight.” (Prov 11:1 ESV).

Andy Bilello,
Baltimore, MD

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