Are We Called To Live A Balanced Life?
The idea of living a balanced life makes sense to us. When I hear people talking about having a balanced life, I understand them to be saying the following:
- I need to be sure to keep my priorities straight.
- I need to be careful to not neglect my husband, wife, kids, family, etc.
- I need to be careful to spend an appropriate time in daily devotionals, in prayer, at church, and serving in Gods kingdom.
- I need to be sure to schedule some recreational time, etc.
- I need to take care of my material possessions, etc.
Another mantra that I have heard said many times is this: God first, family second, work third, etc.
This is often heard among my pastoral colleagues, as these men are concerned to not neglect their families, not get caught up in spending too much time at church, in ministry, helping others, and so on.
While I appreciate this wise concern that many Believers have, I think the idea of having a “balanced” life can be misleading and inaccurate.
Here’s what I mean.
By having a balanced life, some may view their life as a pie that needs to be appropriately sliced into sections, according to the importance of a particular section. Some may mark their calendars regarding what they are going to do and with whom, in order to maintain balance.
I applaud the intentions of such thinking…I really do. That being so, I think that something can sometimes be askew in people’s thinking. Let’s consider a few things.
Are there any passages in the Bible that instruct a Christian to live a “balanced” life? No, there aren’t. Not even one scripture tells us to live a balanced life.
Instead, we are told to love the Lord you God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. (Matthew 22:37) We are also encouraged to be filled and led by the Holy Spirit. (Ephesians 5:18; Romans 8:1b, 5b, 14)
Life is fluid. It is organic, and not stagnant. Life is constantly changing in us and around us. We can never set a schedule that is permanent, regarding how much time and attention to spend here or with whom.
I believe that if a Christian is walking in the Spirit, they will be paying the proper amount of attention to the different people and responsibilities of their life. I believe that if a Christian is being led by God, that God will never lead them into unhealthy extremes. If a Christian is being led by the Spirit of God, instead of by logic or emotion, then everyone and everything will get the attention it needs.
Let me share from my personal life:
I have been a pastor since 1989, and been in ministry since 1980. There have been seasons where I have spent many hours and days away from my family. Music tours, mission trips, church duties. Times when I felt emotionally guilty for being gone, but spiritually approved of by God to be away long or often. I believe that when I have had to leave my family by the leading of God, that God has always given extra grace for my family.
Other times, I have been away from them by my own will, and those times have proven to be neglectful on my part. I have sometimes realized that I was indulging myself in times that supposedly were for service to God.
The examples and applications abound, but let me end here by saying this: Are Christians called to live balanced lives, or obedient lives? Are we called to create proportions for life, or are we called to go with the flow of the Spirit? Are we called to do (only) that which makes sense, or are we called to have a sense of spending our time where and with whom God is calling us to?
Different seasons of life may require “unbalanced” amounts of time doing only one thing, with the supposed neglect of everything else, but if God is leading, everyone and everything will have all the attention that is needed.