Creative LeadershipCreativity

Is “Balance” Overrated?

It seems like everyone is pursuing that elusive goal of “balance.”  There are hundreds of books, workshops, and seminars on the subject:  work and life, business and family, dreams and reality – all about finding the right balance.  But when I look at those unusual and often gifted people who think outside the box, break through barriers, and change cultures – at least for the most part – these are not very balanced people.

Legendary coach Vince Lombardi was obsessed with football, and it had a negative impact on his family.  But some consider him the most important figure in the history of the game.  Winston Churchill suffered multiple failures that would have caused most of us to give up, but his refusal to quit helped him defeat the Nazi war machine.

Writers, filmmakers, and artists throughout history were damaging their marriages, neglecting their kids, or ruining their health, reputations, and futures, but all the while, creating art that we value and honor today.   Even Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Reagan, and many other modern day heroes all had very human flaws.

The question is – does it matter? Is a single minded focus on a powerful and compelling vision what it takes to change the world?  Are we trying so hard to make everybody happy that we’re sacrificing the very gifts, talent, and passions that God has blessed us with?

Would we rather arrive at our retirement with a happy family and plenty of friends, or arrive with the knowledge that we made a difference? It’s easy to say we should do both, but the truth is, there isn’t a lot of evidence out there for that being a common thing.  Certainly a few have accomplished that goal, but not very many.  Even Jesus said: “Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.  Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me.  Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.”

Doesn’t sound terribly balanced to me…

Is it either / or?   What do you think?

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15 Comments

  1. I believe balance does matter.  A single minded focus can become an idol.  Take for example work.  If I pursue it to the detriment of other godly callings, then there is a problem. 

    One could argue either way for Jesus leaving his work as a carpenter and following a new calling to minister.  Or that Jesus did effectively balance both work and helping others in his ministry.

    We must make the time for both family and the other callings on our life.  And prioritizing is a major issue for Americans in this day.

    Just a few of my thoughts.

  2. Jesus was questioning his disciples loyalty to Himself, not to their callings, ministry, or jobs. I would take my wife over changing the world, and I sense that Jesus would approve (Eph. 5:25). But I also don’t think we have to choose between those two…I guess that’s where balance comes in.

  3. Men who were to serve as deacons in the early church were disqualified if they did not have there house in order. I believe family comes before any ministry or calling. Besides, when things are not good at home it makes focusing on the task at hand that much more difficult to do. 

  4.  I contend that, for people of faith, the pursuit of “balance”, putting family first and putting work first each have the potential to be ego-driven and off track. In my experience, following the Holy Spirit sometimes involves putting work before family…sometimes involves putting family before work…and often involves burning the candle at both ends. My husband and my kids know that I have a vocational calling on my life. They recognize that serving others sometimes requires me to put people outside of our home before them and they love me enough to give me room to be the woman I am called to be. I do the same for my husband. I trust that if I commit myself to hearing and following, my path will be kept straight, i.e. balance will be achieved. There have been times–many times–that following God’s leading has been hard on my kids, my husband and myself. That’s the price we pay for engaging in a faith journey that requires complete sacrifice. I’ve never understood the notion that my family, my husband and my home are my first priority. It reeks of self-centeredness. All I can do is listen, obey and trust… 

  5. Who is balancing your life? You or Christ? If you – the life of the flesh. You’re your own master, but not Christ

  6.  Really, how should balance be defined. My life is completely unorganized. I usually don’t know if I am coming or going. I haven’t always been like that. However, since giving up my need to constantly be in control, I’m a little more laid back. I find my balance in relationships instead of performing and trying to do everything perfectly. I would still consider that balanced in a way. 

  7. It is selfish to focus all your time, money, and passion to your work or ministry if you have a family. If your life’s goal is solely focused on your career that is great! But, don’t bring a family into the mix. The bible says that if you can resist sexual temptation then you shouldn’t get married because you can do more for the kingdom! But if you make the decision to get married and subsequently have children, then you have committed to them. You have made that decision and you should live up to the expectations and support your family with everything you have.

  8. I am a professional life management trainer and don’t believe balance is the ultimate goal. I believe it’s the life management that allows us to create priorities and utilize filters to maintain our focus on our passions, callings, giftedness, and other life areas to stay on target with the mission God has given us. It’s less about balance and more about learning how to manage life. Many of us get so far off target we burn ourselves out merely spinning in circles or trying to DO everything.

  9. “Balance” is definitely overrated. As a child I was continually told by teachers (but crucially not my parents) that I needed to “broaden” my interests. These days I occasionally come across people who patronisingly tell me the same. But I know that it is pointless and futile to attempt to develop interests in other things when I know perfectly well what I am supposed to be doing.

    For instance, I know that as a writer I need to be writing everyday and that with practise I will get better and better. People often encourage me to participate in social things, sometimes quite worthy things. But I know it is hay, wood and stubble, so to speak.

    There is a cost – I don’t have a great deal in the way of close friends – but I feel this is a cost worth paying. I think the real lesson here is if you want to change the world, you have to be prepared to pay the price.

    Also – don’t be distracted by religious activity – ONLY do the things God specifically tells you to do, AND NOTHING MORE. You will be pleasantly surprised to find his yoke really is easy and his burden is light. One of Satan’s great strategies is that if he can’t stop you he’ll try to push you too far by making you take on unnecessary extra things that will be cunningly disguised as worthwhile religious activity. This will dilute and eventually destroy what you really are meant to be doing.

  10. Balance, if anything, is a perception. There are stages in life that might require one to be “out of balance” BUT that does not mean being out of Priorities or Principles. For an airplane to get off the ground it has to go all out in invoke lift. But once airborne it can throttle back. That same principle is required as we work to build our business or strive for our goals&dreams.

    Could some people be using the Balance argument as an excuse? Instead of using ones family or faith as a reason to Not Accomplish something, use it as the Reason to go all out.

  11. I don’t believe we can have it all, all at the same time no matter how hard we try to achieve this illusive dream. I believe there are seasons to apply yourself whole-heartedly to accomplish the assignment, goal or project, no balance there. However, I don’t believe God expects or calls us to over-ride the needs of our children and spouse to serve in ministry (or otherwise), on a long term basis. The Bible doesn’t support that theory. Being “called” or being “creative” is not a license to neglect the responsibility of the family you have created. Seasons of sacrifice- yes. I believe in seasons, each one of them having a purpose. Each person has been uniquely made for a specific purpose. I think managing priorities, time and relationships based on divine calling are key here. If God gives a person more territory of influence, He will also help that person to manage the details in their life…. that is, if they’re cooperating with Him. There are always sacrifices to be made to some degree.
    My question to self is, can I be faithful to invest my talents 100 percent in the purpose God has called me to without throwing away my relationship with Him or others? The answer does matter and should matter at the end of my life.
    It’s off balance (one extreme or the other) when we decide we want it all, all at the same time, or nothing at all but to appease others wishes. Balance, no. Seasons, yes.
     

  12. We are all called to deny ourselves and follow after Him, but that doesn’t mean we have to trash our relationships with spouses, family, friends or co-workers. 

    I want to accomplish much, make a difference and yes have a happy family and friends too…I guess have my cake and eat it too, but I’m trying to lose… to me… the end does Not justify the means.  

  13. Great questions Phil. I don’t think ‘perfect balance’ can be achieved. I do think that we should always be looking for areas in our life that we need to adjust – there is always that tension of needing to adjust – we always need to watch for moments in which we may need to slow down a bit or speed things up – include more or eliminate more, etc.
    For me I DO want to arrive at the end of my life having achieved both – having plenty of friends and family and knowing that I’ve made a difference in this world.

  14. Balance is stupid!
    Has God required balance from us?
    Doing good and not evil is pursuing good.
    Let perseverance have it’s perfect work.
    God requires complete forgiveness.
    The bible references balance as in scales of balance.
    God require all, not a balance of all.
    He wants us to be on one side of the fence or the other. Not on it.
    To be on the fence, you have to balance yourself on it.
    Balance is stupid!

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