SpirituAL: The “Balanced” Life

balance

Before I came to be a Youth Minister, I worked as a bank teller. I handled the deposits and withdrawals of thousands of accounts within my 4 year stint working for the bank. During this time, it was incredible to see how people would interact with a stranger who could see their savings, their loans, their written checks, their entire transaction history. People would sometimes be very uncomfortable. Other times people were embarrassed and would overshare to attempt to justify why they couldn’t maintain balance in their accounts. Their balance had a very real influence on how they measured their self worth.

The most frequent request from the typical bank customer was, “Would you check my balance, please?” I always wanted to respond to this question by looking them straight in the eye, walk around my teller station, stand uncomfortably close to them, and then give them a good push. Once they looked up at me from the ground I would say, “It’s not very good…” But I digress…

I’ve never been a particularly well-balanced person. This isn’t a commentary on my mental health or my athleticism. I’m merely stating that I don’t consider myself to live a perfectly balanced life. I procrastinate more than I should, I let daily disciplines slide… well, daily, and my diet is about 70% pizza. I’ve always perceived the balanced life as the embodiment of what the most successful version of my life would look like. People read all kinds of books and articles on what the 7 secrets of successful people are to live a balanced life. They too chase after this well balanced, successful version of themselves. And why shouldn’t we?

It’s been ingrained in us that to be truly successful, one needs to somehow find balance. You should find balance in your family and your career, your financial and your spiritual, your physical health and your social life. The whole process of finding balance seems even more maddening when the variable that is life comes into play. Take care of your physical body, get injured in a car accident. Work to the top of your company, and it declares bankruptcy. Keep your bank account healthy, both family vehicles break down. I’m usually not a cynic but the reality is that life does happen. I’m sure Job in the Old Testament felt pretty well-balanced and certainly successful before his life was a series of unfortunate events that would make Lemony Snicket blush.

Now I want to be understood, I’m not advocating for a life formed around Chaos Theory (Dr. Malcolm) or even Murphy’s Law. I’m certainly not saying that living a balanced life has no value, because it does. Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 reminds us that there is balance to life. There are many Proverbs that speak to the importance of finding balance so that it may go well with you. The Bible is very much in favor of God’s people finding balance and being successful. The problem is our perspective on what success looks like.

It’s no secret that the world’s definition of success would contrast greatly with God’s definition of success. What would you say is God’s definition of success? I like reading Bible questions at GotQuestions.org and they address this question with Biblical soundness.

“Picture two hands. In the right hand there are the offer of true contentment, the ability to handle life’s problems without being overcome by them, amazing peace that sees us through all circumstances, wisdom to know what to do, knowledge and constant direction for life, love for others, acceptance of ourselves, joy no matter what, and at the end of life, an eternity with the God who freely gives all these gifts. The other hand holds all the money and power and success the world has to offer, without any of what the right hand holds. Which would you choose? The Bible says, “Where your treasure is, there also is your heart” (Matthew 6:21). That which is in the right hand is the biblical definition of success.”

In Proverbs 11:1 we read that “A false balance is an abomination to the Lord,
    but a just weight is his delight.” (ESV) 

While I agree wholeheartedly that the Lord wishes us to have balance in our life, I think it’s important to remember who’s scales we are using to judge that balance. Certainly we shouldn’t buy in to the world’s definition of balance and we shouldn’t trust even our own scales that are rife with agendas, egos, and skewed perspectives. Trusting God’s scales, his definition of the balanced life we are to pursue is the only way to truly live and fulfill our purpose.

I’ll end with with this. At my teller station at that bank, I wrote down a verse that I always kept where I could read it everyday. The verse is Matthew 6:24 which I thought was clever or something because the verse talks about how you can’t serve two masters and it cites God and money as examples of two masters you have to choose between. However, I also now have an understanding of how unbalanced our lives should be. No matter what falls on our scale, no matter what weight life can throw our way, God will always outweigh it. As Christians, we are called to make God our one and only King. Christ came preaching a life of imbalance. An eye for an eye? How about turn the other cheek. Curse those who curse you? How about pray for your enemies. Want to be first? Want to be great? Make yourself last and serve others. Seek the life that is Biblically balanced.

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