(This post is used with permission from my friend, Pastor John Warden. He is with Reconciled World, an international ministry. If you like what you read below, here is a link to look at the rest of John’s “Flourish” blogsite: Living Life Like a Flamingo.)
I was teaching in a first grade classroom recently and I asked the students to draw animals they see at the zoo. One child drew a creative picture of a flamingo balancing in the water on one leg. Later that day I was thinking about that flamingo and realizing how hard it must be to balance on one leg for hours at a time. I decided to give it a try. After three minutes of balancing my leg was exhausted, and I gave up. (Yes, I timed myself at home, and I was only able to make it for 3 minutes and 8 seconds!) How do flamingos manage to balance on one skinny leg for 4 or more hours at a time? It’s crazy!
In my brief research of flamingos, I began thinking about the importance of balance in my life. How difficult it seems at times to have a good balance in my spiritual, physical and emotional life. The truth is, without some form of balance, life can come crashing down quickly! There have been many moments in my life where I’ve needed to step aside, re-assess my priorities and re-balance myself for wholistic health.
As busy pastors (AS BUSY PEOPLE….) and leaders, it is easy to cave to the pressures of others and live lives out of balance. While I have certainly not mastered this skill, here are a few thoughts that I hope will help us take steps towards healthy balance in our lives.
Good balance starts with a strong core
Balancing on one leg takes strong core muscles and strength. Living a balanced life also takes developing a strong and healthy core. A balanced life means giving adequate time to the most important things in our lives: our relationships with God, family, and our physical bodies, to name a few. When we begin to operate for long periods of time without proper focus on our core, our wholistic health begins to suffer, and we teeter on the edge of crashing.
Taking steps towards balance
Step 1: Identifying my core. It’s helpful for me to identify the most important priorities in my life. What are the things that make up my “core”?
For me I have broken them down into four categories: Ministry and work, family and friends, spiritual growth and intimacy with God, health and self-care. You could easily add or expand on these categories if you wished. (We will be spending time in coming blogs unpacking some of these areas) These are my core because they are the values and relationships that matter most in my life.
Step 2: Evaluate and pray. I then take time to evaluate and pray, asking God to reveal where in my life I seem to have good balance and where I am struggling. Is there one area that seems to be overloading your time? One area that often gets dismissed? (To be honest, when I struggle it is often because I have failed to give adequate time to intimacy with God.)
Step 3: Figure out what is not working. If there is one area that is out of alignment, ask the question “why?” Maybe you have spent way too much time on your work and very little time with your family and on your marriage. Possibly your schedule has changed and finding time to exercise has been difficult, so you feel the difference in your attitude and energy level. Whatever it is, name the changes and reasons and ask God to give you wisdom on how you might find balance again.
Step 4: Work on how to fix it. Determine what steps you can take today, tomorrow, next week, and long-term to implement finding better balance for yourself. Get a goal on paper and a date to reach it. Now, start working on it.
Don’t get overwhelmed
As you take time to evaluate your life, give yourself grace for the areas that aren’t perfect. Remind yourself that Christ is with you (Deuteronomy 31:8). No matter what emotions arise as you look at your life, Christ is there to bring you comfort and direction.
Also, don’t be afraid to reach out to someone you trust and share with them how you want to re-prioritize your life to value what is most important to you. Ask them to keep you accountable and make a commitment to being open and honest with them about your progress.
Our lives were made to function best with balance. As we think about flourishing to be all that God made us to be, I believe it starts with making your core the priority. We are all on this journey in some form. Let me know if there are ways to encourage or support you along the way. We are in this together!