So many people make the resolution to pursue balance each year, when rhythm is what we’re really looking for.
Around this time of year, so many people are making the resolution to find balance: balance with our family, balance with our jobs, balance with our work, balance with our relationships, etc. But when has “finding balance” supposed to have been the goal of our lives?
Last time I checked, Jesus wasn’t into finding balance. Balance says that we should give equal energy and attention to everything. However, not only is this idea not possible, it’s also not biblical. I believe Jesus was more of a man of extremes:
He was not balanced dealing with family: Jesus chose to prioritize work over his family because he knew the sacredness of the moment and knew his family had to wait (Matt. 12:46–47).
He was not balanced with work: In the midst of saving the world, he stopped and focused on his family, because he knew what they needed at that moment and was present and available (John 19:26–27).
He was not balanced with ministry: He rerouted the team when he needed to and when it didn’t make sense, because he knew the needs when the needs weren’t always obvious (John 4:4, 27).
He was not balanced with friends: He chose three friends as his favorites over the others, knowing that sometimes you have to be exclusive as well as inclusive (Matt. 17:1).
When he was supposed to be doing life with God or people, he was fully present physically, emotionally and mentally. No one has ever been more passionate about people than Jesus. However, he didn’t just live at the whims of people, his family, ministry needs, etc. He was more concerned about doing everything with God, rather than making God one priority among many other priorities. It was less a balancing act and more of an integrating it all together. Basically, Jesus made God the center of everything he did. In other words, it’s not about God, then family, then work, then ministry, then … etc. Jesus integrated God into all he did. So it was God and family, God and work, God and church, God and friends, God and … etc. Rather than God being a primary note in the song, God was the congruency bringing the harmony of all the other parts together. Revealing the mutual relationship of all parts. The Bible makes it clear that whatever we accomplish this year, it’s about harmonizing everything with God’s will.
In Colossians 3:17, 23–24, Paul expresses it like this:
“Whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Again, whatever we do, in work or business, it is to be done in the name of Jesus, with integrity and a sense of Christian service. … Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”
All that we do is done with Christ as the focus.
So I am proposing that instead of finding balance, let’s find rhythm. For any good harmony to work, it must have rhythm. Rhythm has movement and rest. What I have been doing for years that has helped me avoid feeling burned out or stressed out, is to divide my days, weeks, months and years into patterns with built-in rest.
Here’s an example of my basic daily work schedule or rhythm. I generally block my “cadence” into three-hour chunks. It ranges between two to three hours due to others’ schedules, meetings I’m asked to be at by my direct reports, family readjustments, etc. I’m not rigid about the time. It’s simply a reference. Here it is:
Realign (Wake-up–9 a.m.): Here I do my devos, workout, have a good breakfast, pray over the kids, grab convo with the wife (she works full-time), etc. Basically it’s a body/soul/spirit alignment.
Create (9–12): Here I do my thinking, planning, discovering, investing, organizing my ministry, goals, etc. I also think about who I need to connect with, what part of my performance needs work, what I need to fix, where we are going and how to get there, etc. I schedule meetings here with people who inspire me, who pull out the best in me, who are creative, etc. It’s basically the inspiration and direction part of my day.
Relate (12–3): This is my intentional time of connecting with others: networking, coffee, lunch, etc. I usually like to do lunches at 11:30 or so, because you can beat the rush. So “12” is a reference point and not a hard start time.
Administrate (3–6): I am not an administrative person, so this is the administrative portion of my day: I text others back if I haven’t yet, I connect with my team on certain things, I organize and return my emails, etc.
“Familiate” (6–9): This is family time. It’s family dinner together, family devotionals, games, homework, etc. All-things-family are here, and it’s always going to look different as we all know!
Rest (9–bedtime): I call this “rest” because all rhythms have rests between the notes. A constant beating drum isn’t relaxing, but putting a “rest” in the sheet music gives us the rhythm we enjoy. So I rest by reading one of my books, catching up on life with my family (not stressful talks here, those are planned for a different time, as needed), watching Netflix with my wife, working on special passion projects, etc. I’m a big believer in getting 7 hours of sleep each night, so my sleep measures forward 7 hours from the time I go to bed.
After you rest, you realign again. This is my rhythm.
Alan Pastian is a campus pastor at River Valley Church in Apple Valley, Minnesota, an Outreach 100 church (No. 23 Fastest-Growing, No. 46 Largest). For more: AlanPastian.com