I once heard Howard Hendricks say that a lot of people’s lives are like poor photographs: overexposed and underdeveloped. I think that’s true of pastors, too. Many of us are overexposed. We know many people and spread ourselves very thin relationally, but our private lives are underdeveloped.
We need to balance our lives if we want to stay in ministry for the long haul. Why?
First, a lack of balance leads to frustration. Maybe you can relate to this: Sometimes I find myself working on one part of my life and then another part crumbles. It’s like playing a game of “Whack a Mole.” It’s a struggle to get everything under control.
Second, a lack of balance leads to fatigue. When you buy a new set of tires, it is important to get them balanced. If you don’t, they will wear out faster and more easily! The same is true for us in ministry. When you’re out of balance, you get tired.
We need to find balance in these five areas:
- Mental: You don’t allow just anything into your mind. You screen what comes in through God’s Word.
- Physical: We must take care of our bodies.
- Spiritual: We must maintain the spiritual habits that help us have a growing relationship with God.
- Emotional: We’re demonstrating the fruits of the Spirit from Galatians 5.
- Social: Even if everything else is right in your life, if your relationships are wrong, you will still have major problems with your life.
Proverbs 14:8 says, “The wisdom of the prudent is to give thought to their ways, but the folly of fools is deception” (NIV). Wise people think about where they’re headed.
Here are three steps to help you do that:
STEP #1: Take inventory. Do a self-examination. Have a mental, physical, spiritual, emotional, and social checkup, and evaluate your lifestyle. Ask yourself:
- Am I mentally sharper than I was five years ago? If not, what am I going to do about the regression? (mental)
- Do I frequently complain of a lack of energy? Why? (physical)
- Am I regularly spending time talking to God and reading his Word? (spiritual)
- Do I worry a lot? Am I moody? Am I depressed easily? If so, what am I going to do about it? (emotional)
- Who can I count on as a genuine friend? Who can count on me? (social)
Don’t just rely on your own perceptions. Ask your spouse or a close friend some of these questions about you.
STEP #2: Write down a plan of action. Balance doesn’t come by accident; you’ve got to work at it. Ephesians 5:15 says, “So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise” (NLT, second edition). How do you do that? You plan and prepare. A life of balance is marked by habits. If you’re living a life of balance, your plan will reflect successful habits in all areas of your life.
STEP #3: Make sure your relationship with God is central to your life. You don’t have the power to create a balanced life on your own. You will need God’s help. If God isn’t at the center of your life, you will quickly slip out of balance. When you put Christ at the center of everything, the power comes through him and flows to every part of your life. This gives you balance. That’s why the Bible says, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness...” (Matthew 6:33 KJV).
What will you do about this today?