One of the things I love to instill in young developing leaders is the dance of finding good balance in life. Just as every style of physical dancing takes astonishing balance, likewise balance is critical in the dance of work and rest, confrontation and compassion, career and family, pushing forward and patiently waiting, faith and reason, law and grace and many more tension points we encounter nearly every day.
Balance is one of 7 defining characteristics I recently identified for admired leaders. In my nearly 35 years of leadership experience, I’ve watched too many leaders and wanna-be leaders crash and burn because something in their life got out of balance. Sometimes it’s related to schedule. Other times it is an issue of planning or priorities. Bottom line, it’s a dance. Imbalance will cause you to hit the floor.
Here’s a couple things I’ve been learning about balance:
Plan Down-time into Your Schedule – Nearly three decades ago I heard Rick Warren say, “Divert Daily, Withdraw Weekly, Abandon Annually.” Our bodies, minds and spirits were not designed to go full speed, 24/7/365. For sustainability, we need diversions, we need breaks, and we need rest, retreats, respite and renewal. I was fortunate to have a father who insisted that Sunday was a day of physical rest and spiritual renewal. He refused to allow harvesting to continue on the farm even if rain was forecast for Monday. We went to church and enjoyed food and fellowship with friends and family.
When my wife and I were newly-married college students, we planned for Sunday to be a break from studying. If we had a test or a paper due on Monday, we planned our schedules to finish preparations on Saturday or to get up very early on Monday morning. Those planned disengagements from our studies in our early years served us well. We developed patterns in our lives that helped us over the last several decades as church-planters who had to be very intentional about discontinuing the endless work each day, taking a day off each week and going away on vacation every year.
Keep the Priceless Elevated Above the Worthwhile – There are a lot of things in life that are worthwhile. You can spend your entire energy and time on those worthwhile things—jobs, careers, toys, success, retirement accounts and more. Nothing wrong with worthwhile efforts. Success and planning for the future is good. But some things are priceless. Money can’t buy them. Hard work won’t replace them.
What are those priceless things for you? Your relationship with your spouse, your children, your grandchildren, your friends? What about your health? Your legacy? Your reputation? Your integrity? Have you clearly identified the priceless things in your life? I know way too many leaders who have sacrificed the priceless for the worthwhile. Now they live in regret, shame and disappointment.
Balance in life is a delicate dance. Trying to work harder to gather more for yourself or to give more to your family isn’t necessarily what you or they need. You might even be collecting or distributing worthwhile stuff but even the worthwhile can never replace the priceless. What priceless thing will you intentionally invest in and treasure today?
QUESTION: What would you add to the list of priceless things? Please share it below.