I’ve met many christians in the marketplace, that have a desire to serve, that’s hard to shut off. I must admit I was one of those guys, who thought my selfless efforts for others was a huge part of my calling. I still believe it is to a certain extent, however I had to learn to season my enthusiasm with wisdom. My old approach to balancing my time spent serving others, building a career, building business, spending quality family time, and allowing God to nurture me spiritually, fell in that very order. It took a few lumps on the head for me to figure out a healthy work life balance. Even today I still have to be careful as not to slip into old habits.
I had to learn to reprioritize my focus. Listen, closely. I had to learn to simply say, NO. I was stretched so thin that I could hoola-hoop with a Cheerio. I soon found myself, just going through the motions with no vigor, toward the things I believed God wanted me to do in life. I now understand, God was speaking through those circumstances, to teach me to say, “No”.
What did I say no, to?
I had to learn to say no, to my stomach. My grandmother, used to always say, “Boy your eyes are bigger than your stomache”, when I would get a portion of food, larger that she thought knew I could handle. I would try with all I had within me, to finish everything on my plate. (primarily because I couldn’t stand to hear, the guilt trip of children in Africa starving.) After, I realized she was absolutely correct, I would try and sneak away from the table to scrape the food left on my plate in the garbage, when she would say, “Let me see your plate”. Walking towards her in shame, she would say, “Now I told you” Oh, how those words would sting.
In hearing the promises of God, mixed with my own ambition, I became so hungry to do the Lord’s will. In my hunger, I threw caution to the wind, and filled my plate to the maximum, that I thought I could handle. My vision far exceeded my capacity to accomplish the vision.
Practice saying no.
Now, don’t fly off the deep end, and become self absorbed, and selfish. In saying no you are calculating what you sense God wants you to do. Get out a pen and pad. Write down priorities you have in life. I would imagine it looks something like this. Spend time with family, Debt Free, Vacation, Volunteer at Church/Charity, Increase sales by 20% next year, Restore 1965 Mustang, save for kids College. Now take your list and prioritize it from 1 to the number of items on your list. Now make a another list, and write down what you believe God wants to do in your life. Perhaps these things are included: Be more like Christ, Serve at local soup kitchen, mentor young children, pray more often, fellowship with other believers, go on a family mission trip. Prioritize this list as best you can. Now make a third list. Write on this list the things that you are currently doing on a consistent basis. This list may look something like this: Run my family business, Coach kids soccer team, Friday night family time, Golf once a week, watch television 3 hours a day, surf web 2 hours a day, cut lawn on Saturday mornings, Grocery shopping twice a week, read bible 2 hours a week, small group once a week.
Now analyze all three lists, what did you write on your third list that gets you closer to the accomplishing goals on the first two lists? What activities detract from lists 1 & 2?
This excercise in not perfect, but I hope it will get you thinking along the lines of skimming activities in your life, that are drainers, and don’t add any real substance to your purpose. Learning that these activities are not bad, and can even be indulged in, but moderation is the key.
No, is not eternal
I had to learn that the things I was saying no to, was not a permanent thing. I would simply have to learn to prioritize and revisit. Going back to my eyes bigger than my stomach analogy. I recall watching a show on TV about competitive eaters. This one guys was so thin, yet he increased his capacity to consume large amounts of food over time. He didn’t have a natural capacity to do the things that he could do, but he had a routine, in which he would gradually grow, his stomach.
Your capacity for grow starts and ends in the hands of Christ. Plain and simple. We cannot expect to bring God glory without devoting time to Christ, and his purpose for our life.
“Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.” – John 15:5
Remember the story of Mary and Martha? Can you relate to that story? Are there things that you focus on that are acceptable, and maybe even good things to do, but are not necessarily things God wants you to do? Have you maintained a healthy work life balance? We want to hear from you. Be sure to leave us a comment below.