I was at my wit's end. I was overworked, underpaid and at times abused, so I thought. I was working as a part-time youth pastor at my church, holding down a full-time job, going to college full time and trying to lead my wife and two daughters spiritually. Every single night of the week I had something to do, often without my family by my side. It made my wife resentful of what I was doing. She wanted my attention and couldn’t understand why I gave more of it to everyone else. The truth is, I knew my life was entirely out of balance. I just figured this is the way things are supposed to be. Life is busy, I couldn’t do anything about that. Boy, how wrong I was.
So often, we justify doing things just because that is the way things are. It’s not a sin to work, it certainly isn’t a sin to serve in the ministry. Going to school to become a pastor; surely that isn’t a sin. Those things are only partially right. Let me be honest about what was happening in my life. I was neglecting my family for the sake of everyone else’s well being. While I was trying to save everyone else from sin, I was letting my family slip away. I was preparing to go into the ministry, but I was neglecting the Lord. Sure, I read the Bible for school projects and sermon preparation, but I wasn’t reading to strengthen my relationship with the Lord. I was living in sin and justifying it because the work had to get done. Man, was it easy to fool myself.
I am sure many of you have been there, hurting, stressed, trying to figure out why there is always some aspect of your life that is lacking. Thankfully, my wife and I are happier than ever. My daughters are unbelievably gracious, and our family gets stronger every day; yours can too. You may be searching for that one rule you can add to your life to change everything and bring about your long awaited balance. There must be on be one principle to bring life into balance, right? Not really, just like a million fad diets, there are a million quick fixes to bring the chaos into balance. You can find a hobby, eat healthier for greater focus or get up earlier. These quick solutions may give you momentary relief, but they won’t solve what your issue is. Let’s talk about a few things that can actually help you conquer life the right way.
1.) You have to learn to say, ‘NO.’
This is one that I struggled with. A LOT. The truth is, my hectic life wasn’t anyone’s fault but my own. I hadn’t decided to do anything about it to fix what was going on. If my pastor needed something, you better believe I would do it, no questions asked. I didn’t need to check with my wife, she would understand, right? Actually, she wouldn’t. She would understand, however, the ministry gets more of me than she does. The Bible tells us in Ephesians 5:16, “making the best use of the time because the days are evil.”
We all prioritize our lives. Even if you don’t write it down, or even think about things in any order of importance you do. Whatever is taking the most of your time, is the most important thing to you, it is a priority to you. The question is, is it the best use of your time? You can get dollar bills back, you can get another job, but you can’t get your time back.
You need to determine what the most critical aspect of your life is and keep it there. Intellectually as Christian’s we know we are to love God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength, but practically, well that’s a different story. God comes first, no matter what. Say no to something else so you can say yes to God. Next is our family, we are called to raise our children in the admonition of the Lord and love our wives sacrificially as Christ loves us. Sometimes, you have to say to no your blossoming career so you can say yes to your family.
If you can learn to say no, you will open a sea of opportunity that will ultimately bring greater balance to your life.
2.) You have one life, not three
We are a people that just works, works, and works. It is part of our DNA and when we feel we aren’t doing enough, the guilt floods in. This has caused divorce rates to skyrocket because families aren’t really families anymore, depression has soared with unachievable workplace expectation. We all want to combat it but don’t know how. Naturally, we try to separate everything, so the boundaries don’t cross. The thought is if I can leave work at work, church at church and home at home the time spent at each respective place will be more positive right?
Not entirely, life is continuously fluid and completely unpredictable, no matter how hard we try to control it. It is impossible to separate. As Christians, we seem to take this a step further. We want to separate the spiritual from the secular. The problem with this is Jesus is not a religion but rather a relationship. He died on the cross for us to cover all of our sins and transform us. We are no longer called to live selfishly but selflessly with an expectation in eternity. We struck a deal with Christ. When we accepted Christ as our Lord and Savior, we said, “You have given all for me, I want to give all for you.”
We have to stop leaving Jesus at church, leaving work at work and leaving family at home. Now I completely understand you aren’t going to shout out in praise to Jesus at work and have a full-on worship session. You also can’t bring your family to work with you, and you can’t neglect your family at home so you can work but hear me out.
Life can’t be separated into different boxes. Instead, we need to work on developing self-discipline. One of the fruits of the Spirit is self-control. It is the ability to abstain from things that you would instead rather be doing. There are going to be times you will be at home an email comes in and you will be tempted to open while eating dinner with your family. Pray that God helps you make the right decisions in these situations. We often know what need to do, but we must rely on the power of God to overcome the temptation to do it anyway.
Stop trying to separate different aspects of your life. Realize you only have one life, one family and one God. Acknowledge God and let Him lead you.