Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. Psalm 90:12 NIV
I was recently asked to speak at a women’s conference on the topic of work/life balance. I laughed when approached because this is a lesson that I have learned too well in the past year. Juggling a full-time job, single parenthood, and learning my mother has cancer has been a tremendous learning experience for me. It’s truly been a balancing act. I know I am not the only person in this world with more than what I asked for on my plate. We all have our own balancing acts of work, family, friends, hobbies, health, finances, checklists, errands, sports, children’s activities, and relationships. I’m sure like many of you reading this, I had a moment where God made it clear that I had to make changes in my life in order to invest where I needed to and let go of things that didn’t need to be there. Before going into “how to” conqueror this balancing act I want to share HOW we try to balance everything that does not work.
- We try to do it all ourselves by ourselves. We are supposed to be Wonder Woman and Superman right?? “Sure I can take on that project!” “I can throw in an extra activity for my child.” “NO! I don’t need any help. I got it.” Sounds familiar? Trying to do things alone will create burn out and fast.
- We make deliberate choices to establish balance. When I first read this it caught me off guard and I thought, “then what are we supposed to do?” But let’s look at why it doesn’t work: We have the best of intentions when we make choices to change, but then what happens? This thing called L-I-F-E. Life happens and has a way of taking over. Someone gets sick or has a car accident. Schedules change, crisis comes up. Seasons change. Those choices go out the window and often times we don’t adjust or reevaluate our circumstances.
- We think we can do it all. We don’t say no to things we should. I’m extremely guilty of trying to cram every possible thing into a day. I will have an extra 15minutes and think I can schedule to trip to Home Depot or run an errand it takes me 15 minutes just to get to.
I don’t believe there is a specific formula for conquering the balancing act, but I do think there are certain principals that we can follow in any season to help us. I studied this topic in preparing for the women’s conference and I found several key themes from sermons and educational research*. I hope these help you as much as they did me.
- Put first things first.
“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Matthew 6:33 NIV
What are your priorities? What are your family’s priorities? Should those be your priorities? I think these are all great questions for us to evaluate from time to time. Here are a few other thoughts about what to put first:
- Our pastor recently brought up this point and said something similar to, “Don’t give up irreplaceable roles for replaceable ones.” There are roles in your life that you are irreplaceable in. Those roles take center stage in life. I am irreplaceable as my daughter’s mother and as my mother’s daughter. Those are the most important roles I play right now.
- Cut out things that don’t add value to your life. This step is the only one that a lot of people need. If it is not beneficial and is not a value or priority, wave goodbye. I love how John C. Maxwell says, “Learn to say no to good so you can say Yes to the best.”
- What does success look like in your family?
“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.” Psalm 32:8 NIV
We know what success looks like at work, but what about in our family? Success in some families may be eating family dinner together every night or having time with each child before bed in order to connect. Success in this season of life may be that no one went to the principal’s office today and everyone made it home okay. Ask the Lord to instruct and teach you about what His success for your family looks like.
- Get technology under control.
“God made everything with a place and purpose…” Proverbs 16:4 MSG
People who are successful at balancing various areas of life understand that technology is wonderful but it also has a place. TV, social media, smart phones, video games, etc… If we don’t know their place they can become a time and joy killer. What place do these have in your life?
- Build support networks.
We cannot do it alone. Trying to be Wonder Woman and Superman will leave us exhausted.
Ecclesiastes 4:9 says, “Two are better than one…”
There are two types of support we need to establish. First, is physical support. Can someone help you care for or transport your child(ren)? Can someone help you accomplish whatever tasks you have at hand? From experience, most are willing to help and want to. We have to be willing to let them. Most people receive help want to give back and this provides an opportunity to serve others. The second is emotional support. We need trusted friends, co-workers, and mentors that we can turn to in times of uncertainty or need. Find at least two or three people in these settings whom you trust and are able lean on, bounce ideas off of, and that can give you honest feedback and support.
Jesus, Thank you that our time is in your hands. Guide us in our choices and help us to shape our lives in a way that honors you and aligns with your will. Give us wisdom and show us the way in every decision we make. Bless this season of our lives. In Your Wonderful Name we pray, Amen.
*Research study form the Harvard Business Review
Amanda Waller is a small town girl who loves Jesus and has never met a stranger. Her deepest desire is to be like Mary in Luke 10:41-42, “…you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” Her daily aspiration is to spend time at the feet of Jesus and be a woman marked by His presence. Amanda’s heart is for the hurting, families, and God’s church. She is the mommy to a beautiful kindergartner who is full of life and joy. Professionally, Amanda is the director of a nonprofit family resource center dedicated to strengthening and empowering families. She longs to make an eternal impact and being a part of Craving God Ministries is a way she hopes to encourage the discouraged and give hope to the hopeless.