On Ministry Balance
Finding life’s balance can be elusive.
Maintaining it once you find that sweet-spot can be an even greater challenge.
To me it’s a lot like driving. There are constant corrections. Drifting right. Correct. Drifting left now. Correct back. Speed up a little – ease off the gas. There’s constant flex. I used to think I could find the balance and keep it for a while. Not true. Being willing to constantly adjust has helped me alot – it’s a lot like “constant repentance” in a spiritual vein, keeping short accounts and staying on task with the Lord. That having been said, here are some things I’ve found helpful. While these were originally written from a ministry perspective in response to one of Brandon’s posts, they apply to life in general.
* Pray. A steady, always with us, kind of dialogue with the Lord is alot like constantly staying in touch with the Boss (I say that reverently) He’s there to help, to fortify, to tell me “don’t worry about that – let it go” and He empowers. Oswald Chambers said “When men work men work. When men pray, GOD works.” Prayer keeps me in that mode, and I’d rather be where God’s at work than try to do things on my own.
* I tell God what I want to do today, this week, month, year – in detail. But I quit telling people what I’m going to do, only what I’ve actually been doing. God knows why I adjust, even prompts me to. People tend to hold me to what I say, even if I was only thinking out-loud. Getting rid of that pressure (even though a lot of it was internal) was huge for me.
* Plan blocks of time for specific tasks. If I’m studying, I don’t have to wonder if I should be doing something else, which blurs my focus. I get more done in four-hour blocks than in an hour here and an hour there; probably has something to do with the musician in me, takes me a while to settle down and get to business. There are 15-30 minute blocks in my day -usually two- called “fuses”, for when things go long, or wrong. I nearly always use them. When I didn’t have fuses included I was almost always frustrated at my being behind.
* I carry an inexpensive voice recorder with me so I can capture thoughts that go racing by, even when I’m driving, and put them to use later. It’s fun to see people relax when I catch my thought or idea sparked by a bit of conversation, put the little Panasonic back in my pocket and say “That’s for later. Thanks. Let’s keep going!” It helps me focus on what’s going on right now.
* Those reminder functionson Outlook, PDA’s and cell phones really come in handy. Setting a reasonable reminder to “do this now” means I don’t always have to wonder or try to remember what’s next. I can concentrate on what’s here / now and not have internal distractions to contend with. I call Outlook “my nag with permission” and my PDA “my leather-bound brain”
* Relax and rest is expressly for that. If God rested, I probably need to too. And it’s no time to feel guilty. When I’m with family, I’m with family and NObody gets to me, unless it’s the surgeon or funeral director calling. [half-kidding] Remember the story of the two men in a logging contest? One set out frantically to out-do his opponent, pushing, pushing, pushing the limits of his endurance the whole 8-hour day. He smiled when he heard his opponent stop now and then. “Oh-GOOD, he’s wearing out, I’ve got him!” At the end of the day his opponent had convincingly out performed him! “How did you DO that? I heard you stop – several TIMES I heard you stop.” The answer came back, “That I did, to sharpen my axe and breathe.” Studies are showing we do better when we’re rested. Psalm 127:1-2 says so too.
* Grouping activities into 4 categories based on high and low urgency and high and low importance, then focusing my energies on the high importance-low urgency quadrant is very useful – keeps me in good shape. (I may write more on that separately.)
* ONE calendar. For everything. When I have a calendar for church, another for work, another for family things, etc. I multiply my chances of forgetting something or double-booking. That’s a sure road to embarrassment and humble pie. Put everything on one calendar for yourself and pay attention. It’s like the modified proverb: Put all your eggs in one basket – and WATCH that basket!
Bi- or multi-vocational ministry really isn’t multi-tasking, at least I can’t. It’s like a tri-athalon. This, then this, then this, each day as it comes. And the Husband-Dad job is as important as if not more-important than the ones I get paid for.
If you have things you use to keep a sense of balance in life, please feel free to comment! Would love to hear from you!