(Posted March 1st 2016 @ 11:45 AM by: Melody Reever)
“You must have balance in all things.” My grandfather, Reverend Donald D. Sjöstrand, has used that phrase since I was a child. Now that I’m grown, I find his advice more important and applicable to my life than ever before. Like many women, I wear many “hats.” I’m a wife, and mother of two; I have a full-time career; and I’m actively involved in church. I work daily to practice the balance my Papa Don preached. I’ve come to the conclusion that the Bible gives the best answer: “And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ” (Colossians 3:23-24).
Although our roles may differ, we can all get out of balance. There’s just only so much time and energy to go around, and, sometimes, we’re required to expend ourselves in one area at the expense of another. Often, the more control we try to exert, the less we actually end up having, and then we wind up spent—mentally, emotionally, and physically. Our challenge is to relinquish control and let the Lord guide us each day through every task. Seeking to please Him and not ourselves or others results in the sensitivity to be balanced in every area of our lives: ministry, family, and education/career. Ultimately, the balance He provides to us amounts to this: He gives us lines. Staying in the lines is liberating.
Balance in Ministry
Ministry, as we know, is so much more than just a pulpit calling. It can be any work that is directly related to the church: serving on a food committee, volunteering as a Sunday school teacher, helping with the cleanup crew, or undertaking any number of other responsibilities. The more the work is related to the Lord and His kingdom, the more difficult it can be to maintain balance. However, as noted in Colossians 3:23, we are supposed serve the Lord “heartily.” If we are serving the Lord “heartily,” or with all of our heart, our mind and emotions are focused solely on the Lord and making sure that He is pleased with our efforts. This is extremely freeing, especially for those of us who are perfectionists. Unlike us, the Lord is not a taskmaster; He considers our frame, and never puts more on us than we can bear.
The Lord has given us His Word and the Holy Ghost to reveal to us proper boundaries. He gives the strength to stay within those lines and limits. For example, He gives us the permission, without guilt or shame, to put a time limit on our ministerial tasks, whatever they may be, so that we go home at a reasonable hour to be with our families. He will even tell us when we need to relax. Most importantly, He calls us into His presence to spend time with Him. Only He can calm inner chaos with His perfect peace and great love.
Balance in Family
Maintaining proper balance within our families can be equally difficult. In striving for that immaculate home, which many of us desire on at least some level, we can go overboard. Every moment at home could be spent on nothing but household chores. Unfortunately, all you may gain is a clean house at the emotional expense of you and your family. However, in relinquishing control and committing desires, emotions, and work to the Lord, He can remind us when we need to put away the vacuum and take a moment to do a glitter project with a four year-old. Likewise, He can reveal when we need to spend time with our spouse in order to build our marriage.
Balance in Education/Career
Although there are many different educational and/or career paths, the Lord can and will use even this area of our lives. This does not mean, of course, that everyone necessarily should set her sights on a full-time career position. It simply means that the Lord wants us to use the skills and gifts that He has graciously bestowed upon us for His kingdom. We have to hone our gifts through training, practice, and an investment of time. Sometimes, this means going back to school, taking a night class, learning a trade, or starting a new career. Even if your particular skillset is not a direct benefit to your local church, it can be of great benefit to the Kingdom. The Lord can use you as a witness through the process you undertake. He can bless you financially to bless the church, and He can “do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20).
As we let the Lord lead us, we become His garden, with various gifts and skills to offer Him and His kingdom. And, in His kindness, He helps us develop and grow, edifying us wholly, with the lines we need to operate with balance and sensitivity in each of our varied roles. All our lives require balance. Just as the best gardens contain rich, well-cultivated soil where a multitude of varied plant life grows, our lives should express the same diversity. We should never stop striving to edify ourselves body, soul, and spirit. Certainly, the more skills we bring to the Lord, the more useful we can be for His kingdom, in ways we may not even imagine.
Sheena A. Sjöstrand-Post, Esq. is an attorney at Hayes Law Offices, Inc. LPA in Pataskala, Ohio and an adjunct professor at Mount Vernon Nazarene University. Sheena and her husband, David, reside in Newark, Ohio, with their two daughters and serve together on the ministerial team at Christian Apostolic Church, where her parents pastor.