The Myth of “Balance”

I’ve often been encouraged to find the right work/life balance. I don’t believe this is a concept that is from God, and here’s why.

Balance speaks to the pressure to manage life out of limitation or even deficit. Our calendars become a zero-sum game where we strive to get all the parts to fit “just right.” Trying to balance our lives puts all the pressure on ourselves to “get it perfect.” The problem is that we live in a state of constant change and chaos. Striving for the ever-elusive perfect balance is draining, if not completely impossible.

This doesn’t sound like the abundant life to me. In John 10:10, Jesus says, “The thief comes only to steal, kill, and destroy. But I have come that they might have life and have it to the full!”

Rest, then, is a paradigm shift, a shift from “managed balance” to surrendered rhythm.

Following His pace, relying on His abundance, means we no longer live under the pressure to balance a finite set of limited resources. Resting with Jesus, our lives are no longer reduced to squeezing our days and weeks into an unending grid – with the added pressure to somehow “balance” this grid against an equal weight of rest. Instead, we live in rhythm, with seasons of intense engagement alongside moments of great refreshment, all lived out – the work and the rest – by faith. As we do so, God’s great purposes for our lives are multiplied through His unlimited resources. The sum of our lives becomes greater than the sum of its parts. There is no work/life balance. Everything is tipped in our favor. Everything we need for life and godliness, we have in Jesus.

Resources

Margaret writes that the verses that God used to call her to serve with Navigators come from John 12:24-25: “I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels – a plentiful harvest of new lives. Those who love their life in this world will lose it. Those who care nothing for their life in this world will keep it for eternity.”

  • In what ways does work call you to sacrifice your own goals to serve God’s goals? In what ways is rest part of your service and devotion to Him?
  • Have you found a rhythm of work and rest that works for you? What keeps this pattern fresh? When do you know you are abusing your freedom in Christ and overworking? What are the warning signs that you are just being lazy?
  • As you think about the new year, are there things about your work/rest rhythm that you would like to change? Is there someone you can tell? (Sharing plans is one way to make them a little more real.)