The summer is finally here. Do you feel like you’ve been able to “decompress” a bit? Finally getting away for that much needed “refresher”? Or are you still waiting for that vacation time to kick in? Maybe you have nothing really planned for this summer. Is your life in balance? What would your closest family members or friends say?
About three times now I’ve presented on the subject of Work - Life - Balance. I’m slated to present again on this personal “stewardship” of self subject this coming August in Boca Raton. It is an important issue and something that resonates with people and something I’ve continued to learn about.
What frames the issue for us is that the fallen world was cursed after Adam and Eve’s fall into sin. Included in that fall is the toil and sweat of work: “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life.18 It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field.19 By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return” (Gen 3:17b-19). Work is not necessarily going to be a cakewalk. It will often be toil, facing hardships (thorns and thistles) and it will take effort to get what you need for this life. Then our sinful nature will produce the gravitational pull to avoid work. We will do our share of groaning and complaining and avoiding and being lazy. We’ll want to get out of work. Naturally it will vary from person to person or even day to day.
Yet for the Christian, the redeemed perspective is that work is a matter of worship as we live out the various callings upon our lives: butcher, baker, candlestick maker, husband, father, brother, neighbor, church member and so on. Life is filled with opportunities to worship God with the gifts and abilities He has given to us. Some weeks and months will be filled with things to do and others less so. December always seems to be a busy month and more so for pastors and others who need to “work” on the holidays. But the wise Christian knows that balance isn’t measured by the day or the week or even the month but even by the year or more.
Still it seems that in our world today there is overwork, workaholism and just plain over functioning. What’s up with that? Sin no doubt has its influence there too. Sometimes we fail to appreciate the value God places on us evidenced by the sending of His Son and we try to prove our worth through our work. Sometimes we work to avoid other necessary relationships that may be challenging. “Too busy” we say. Then we complain that no one understands how hard we work. Well, whose fault is that?
For pastors, over work is a dangerous black hole because we feel privileged to be servants of the Word and responsible (and often expected) to be the ones delivering the spiritual goods and services. Yet at the same time we know we are supposed to be equipping the saints (Eph 4). That is the classic example of a values conflict. Do too much ourselves and we “teach” our people that we are responsible to do it and they are the “consumers.” Do less and try to train or mentor others and we not only feel guilty about not doing it ourselves but members can sometimes complain that they aren’t getting the “real pastor” to care for them. Ouch! What a dilemma!
Ultimately though, balance is an unrealistic goal, especially on a daily basis. Rather the goal should be “tending toward” balance. Then wherever you find yourself, are you fully engaged and fully present whether it is work or family? That is a powerful indicator for healthy work/life balance which often begins with getting some things straight in our minds.
Some coaching questions:
- What you are assuming about work, about life and about balance? Write it down!
- Are you tending toward balance or away from balance? What is the evidence?
- Take inventory: what are you saying “yes” to and what are you saying “no” to? Make a list.
- Are you fully engaged wherever you find yourself? Ask your coworkers and your family!
For next time: When does your work day end and what about time off?
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Scott Gress is called by Lutheran Counseling Services and partners with the FL-GA District of the Lutheran Church as an independent contractor. He specializes in Leadership Training, Consulting, Coaching and Coach Training. Contact Scott to continue the conversation or experience a free sample coaching session. 561-542-4472, firstname.lastname@example.org or scottgress.com
"Helping leaders be more productive - less controlling"