Tuesday, May 26, 2009


I told you I'd come back to it after I simmered down. I'm ready to tackle it. I think.

An interesting thing has happened since my rant several weeks ago about balance (scroll down to #2 on the list). Whenever people use the word now in conversation with me, they'll stop themselves, smile hesitantly and apologize.

Really. It's okay. I promise I won't slap anybody.

But it's probably time I explained myself a little better. I've actually spouted off about balance before on this blog. The word is not a new irritation. I found a post I wrote two years ago called A Balancing Act which explains my annoyance pretty well, giving scripture references to back it up. It's not a bad summation, but I've since nailed down my main problem with the word.

Let me be blunt. (First let me take a big breath. . .Okay, here we go.) I think we Christians use the word balance to give ourselves a respectable reason not to serve.

Yep, I said it. Balance gets in the way of ministry. When we play the balance card, we earn the admiration of others for our self-control AND get out of doing the work. Which is fine and dandy if we don't try to put some spiritual spin on it. Now I'm not saying you should never say no, but if you do, please don't use balance as a Biblical reason to do so. I can't find any scripture to back it up. If you know of a passage which supports this idea, I'd love to see it. Jesus never encourages it. He says, "Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it." (Matthew 10:37-39)

Doesn't sound very balanced, does He?

Do missionaries display balance, leaving everything they know in hopes of introducing strangers to Christ? Did the apostles and early Christians show balance when they died for their faith? How much balance did Billy Graham's family maintain with his speaking schedule? Was he wrong to travel across the globe evangelizing? Are you thinking of your pastor's balance when it's YOUR family member's funeral? Do you want your friend to exercise balance when YOU are the one having a crisis?

Every day brings impromptu opportunities to love others. If I am too concerned about my own balance, what will I miss? Who will suffer for my family's convenience? If someone shows up at my door or I get a phone call or I see someone visibly upset, how can I ignore it or push it off to a later date? Sometimes that means we eat Burger King for dinner or our family is rushing more for the next thing or my kids have to wait a little for my attention. But is that terrible?

Now before you start feeling sorry for my family and think me an insensitive mother, please understand I sift everything through how it will affect my family. I schedule time with others around the activities of my kids. And don't forget my word for the year is FOCUS. But sometimes I don't have a choice. Serving often means sacrifice, for me and sometimes for my family. Is it bad for them to wait on Mom? Is it bad to teach them how to meet the needs of others too? Am I terrible mother to juggle things at home to help others? Don't I want them to learn how to do that too? Should my availability be limited to them?

But if you suggest inconveniencing your kids, someone will invariably say, "We should be meeting the needs of others, but not at the expense of our families. We need to keep some balance."

Can you hear me screaming?!

It sounds nice, but it's not Biblical. We are called to love. Sometimes in loving others, our families sacrifice. They are not forgotten, are not given low priority, but their convenience cannot trump every need.


It's not a terrible idea. There are times to say no. But let's not use balance as a "spiritual" excuse to abandon others for the sake of our own comfort level.


Emiley said...

Oh, Tami...you've got me thinking on this one! I just forwarded this to Bruce so we can talk about it, too. I see your point and I honestly can't think of one scripture, but... Well, just but....there's GOTTA be a but, doesn't there?

My first thought is that maybe the issue is WHAT you are balancing. I'm gonna think on this one. :-) Thanks!!

Jaime (ChaseNKids) said...

What a thought-provoking post! This entry has my brain buzzing!

Norma said...

Just watched a special on tv about the war in Iraq and the soldiers that obtained wounds during their tour over there. The comment that stuck in my mind---and reminded me of your post this morning is
"SERVICE OVER SELF" If they can do that for their country, are we to do any thing less for our Lord?


Definitly makes me stop to think.

Linda said...

Ok. I understand what you are saying. It has my thinking wheels spinning. To me, your description of balance seems more of a case of getting priorities out of wack. When I do that, typically more time is wasted and less time is available for the most important things. i.e. I haven't had my quiet and study time yet today.

Ministry and family certainly are priorities and we can't schedule the needs of others or the opportunity to minister to those needs. I've been seriously contemplating how many opportunities I miss because I'm too wrapped up in my own world. I'm afraid I miss way too many. That would be out of balance in your book, right? Guilty as charged.

I will have to think on this more.

dianne said...

Great post and why I've come to prefer the word "rhythm" over "balance." Besides being an excuse, I think balance can also be an symptom of control issues, as we try to maintain a way to keep our hand in way too many things, and then like you say, use it as an excuse when we fall down in some area.