Balance. The word alone sounds calming and harmonious. And striking balance is a fundamental aspect of purposeful living.
But what exactly is balance? We hear this word so often, but sometimes it hard to visualize exactly what balance looks like in life.
So we will look first at a formal definition of “balance.”
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary provides a number of definitions, such as:
“Stability produced by even distribution of weight on each side of the vertical axis;
Equipoise between contrasting, opposing, or interacting elements;
Equality between the totals of the two sides of an account;
An aesthetically pleasing integration of elements;
mental and emotional steadiness.”
These definitions provide an excellent launching point for our discussion of balanced living.
In order to bring “contrasting, opposing or interacting elements” to a state of “equipoise,” we must devote the appropriate quantities of time and energy to corresponding areas of our lives. Therein we discover the peace and calm that comes with balanced living, the “mental and emotional steadiness” of our energies and passions well-distributed.
What are the steps to achieving this balanced life? And how does God’s Word fit into the balancing act?
- First we must define the priorities in our lives and order them according to importance. As children of God, we remember the words of Jesus: “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:33) We know also that the most important commandment is to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” (Mark 12:30) It follows, therefore, that our priorities involve our relationship with God, with His church and with saving the lost. We place the other areas of our lives (such as family, health and wellness, work and career, recreation, personal growth and finances) around the center of this greatest priority. The second greatest command is: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Mark 12:31) By setting first the love of God and the striving for His Kingdom and His Righteousness, the other priorities easily fall in line…the second of which is loving others as self. These two commandments are the touchstone for purposeful and balanced living. They serve as the gauge in the ordering of other priorities.
- Having defined our priorities, we can then list activities (and the frequency of them) which will support the achievement of each priority. Under the area of family, for example, we may include activities such as a family outing once a week and a family Bible study twice weekly. Just as we listed according to priority the overall areas of life, it is important also to prioritize the activities within each of these areas. Doing so allows us to better focus our energies and better use our time. Prioritization alleviates overwhelm. When time abounds, we are able to achieve all on the list. Yet, when time is scarce, we are able to address those activities which are of highest importance.
- Another step is to modify our priority / activity lists as time passes. The overarching priorities of loving God and loving neighbor will remain constant. Yet achieving balance is a process and not an event etched in stone. We can change the list of activities as needed. Practice. Learn. Adjust. We are to embrace the moment and appreciate the learning experience.
- A helpful step in the process is to create a personal mission statement and to review and recite each day. Doing so ensures that our daily activities are aligned with our purposes. The mission statement serves to remind us also of all areas of importance, thereby supporting a balanced lifestyle.
- We should confirm our priorities often with the Word of God. For example, it is good to stay fit and healthy. In doing so we can live more fully and serve God and others more vibrantly. Yet it is easy to place too much focus on this area. God’s Word reminds us that “physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.” (1 Timothy 4:8) God’s Word also reminds us that “charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.” (Proverbs 31:30) The views of our culture certainly do not align with these verses of Scripture. We should thereby ascertain that our priorities align with God’s Word and Will. In doing so we will find incredible peace and also the ease of balance, for our God does not place focus on the countless things upon which the world does. Striving to achieve all that the world seeks causes overwhelm. Seeking God’s Kingdom, however, brings peace and focus…and, yes, balance.
As we apply these steps and practice Bible-based balance, we flow freely and easily in the movement of God’s Spirit. All other areas of priority fall gracefully into place when we seek first THE Priority.
Today, as you journey purposefully upon your personal pathway, I encourage you to seek a life of balance by aligning yourself to God’s Will. Seek first God’s Kingdom and God’s righteousness; love Him foremost and love your neighbor as yourself. And may you enjoy the peace and joy of balanced living in and for Him…
© 2012 Caroline Gavin
What are some ways you achieve balance?