The Myth of Work Life Balance

Twice in the last week, I’ve been asked about work-life balance. Most recently, with a close friend over pancakes; early in the morning before either of our work days began.

“How do you balance work with the rest of your life?” he said.

The question always comes with a bit of background.

Perhaps it’s a worry that work is taking up too much time, or that it’s somehow taking place of some other more important priority. The reasons are endless. And for most well-meaning men it’s something that comes up a lot – at least eight hours a day.

But the premise is the problem. Not the question.

So we need to start with the misconception.

There is no work and then life. No distinction of duty. No segregation of cause.

Now before you call the Twitter police, let me explain.

To do that, we’ll need to zoom out. Way, way out.

Heaven’s perspective, in fact.

All of us are called, in Christ, to seek first the Kingdom.

Consider the words of Jesus:

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
Matthew 6:33

Which may seem a bit vague, but it’s a big deal.

All of “these things,” such as time management, get in line behind our pursuit of Kingdom come; which is to say, the practical things God wants to do during the day. This includes the things we give priority (Full Chapter Here).

But this can get confusing.

After all, haven’t we been taught the priority should be:

God,
then Family,
then Work?

That sure sounds good. But there’s nothing particularly biblical about this priority-pyramid. That’s not to say it’s not well meaning. No doubt, it’s meant to be. Just not scriptural.

In fact, it creates some mental roadblocks for us. For starters, it creates a mentality that if you simply do your devotions, before coffee, kids or career, then you’ve covered the priority of God in your life for the day.

But the Divine is not a devotional. Nor do we set that relationship aside once we’ve done our due-diligence of prayer.

We “prayer without ceasing” as Paul, the Thessalonian-theologian said; involving the Almighty in all aspects of the day.

So let’s take off the top of the pyramid. Weave it through the day instead.

Next, we have the family. Who can argue with family?

Here again, we have a priority that, on the surface, looks good but shows that we have a more fundamental issue that needs to be solved.

In isolation, it communicates to our kids and spouse that there is a divide between community and career. But there shouldn’t be…

Growing up, I was always happy that my Dad didn’t wait for “Take Your Kid to School Day” to involve me in his life. He had me working on the car when I was barely twice as tall as the wrench he handed me. He also insisted on me helping out around the shop occasionally too. This didn’t just teach me work ethic, it showed me there wasn’t “work time” and “son time.” Simply life, and the time within it.

Now it may not be practical to bring family members to work, but you do well by everyone when you go beyond “Sorry, this is my job. The way life is.” No need to apologize. Pull family into your function, and function into your faith.

This is true of life’s emergencies too.

I had a mentor, many years ago, who was the owner of a successful surgical practice. He was a man of faith, well known in his community and he had a wonderful family too. He told me something very insightful about being successful in all camps.

“Pierce,” he said.

“Whatever deserves your time is your priority.” speaking of at-risk situations.

“If I have an emergency at work, and I don’t take care of it, it does affect my family. If I simply said family over everything, and then didn’t take care of what kept a roof over their heads, then I am not caring for my family.”

Of course, this mindset requires discernment. You can’t use a job to isolate or escape. But the principle is true.

Life is a matter of stewardship. Not segregation.

Life is a matter of stewardship. Not segregation.

In all things, we should strive to conform our priorities into something that models Christlikeness and Kingdom come. When we move away from segregation and into stewardship, we start to see that the Lord is in all and through all. This, in turn, allows us to think and pray about things holistically, and not simply as tiers of responsibility.

The result is less guilt, and more God, during the day.

Pierce Brantley
Pierce Brantley is an author, speaker and lover of Jesus. He's married to his wife Kristie and lives in Dallas, TX. He writes on biblical studies, Christian worldviews and principles of godly living for men.

2 Comments

  1. Pierce. A good article and well said!! And you nailed it my Brother. STEWARDSHIP! Majority ( 90%)) don’t know what Stewardship is! Thanks Man.

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