The world calls it unbalanced, but the Kingdom of God has a different order for success.
“You know, it’s all about finding balance,” I’ve heard people say. And I’m always tempted to ask them just exactly where they found it. Apparently, I look in the wrong places! If your life is anything like mine, “balanced” is probably the last word you’d choose to describe it. I’d like to convince you that maybe being “unbalanced” is a good thing.
C.S. Lewis once said, “Put first things first and we get second things thrown in: put second things first and we lose both first and second things.” I like that. If I’ve learned one thing about myself lately, it’s that I’m incapable of balancing the important aspects of life (marriage, parenting and work), until I’ve over-weight and become dependent upon the most important aspect of life—my relationship with the Lord. I’ve discovered it’s the singular input that determines all outputs.
Before the Lord sent Ezekiel on his mission to the stubborn Israelites, He instructed him, “Son of man, let all my words sink deep into your own heart first. Listen to them carefully for yourself. Then go to your people…” (Ezekiel 3:10).
During the Sermon on the Mount, when Jesus was flipping the established priorities of the world upside-down, He said, “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:33).
Lastly, when the Pharisees were trying to test Jesus by asking him which commandment of God was the greatest, He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’” (Luke 10:27).
Here lies the key, gentlemen. Do you see the proper order? Can you see the “Who” that must precede all else? We’d do well to chisel this principle onto our hearts because the world we wade into each day insists otherwise. It claims that your kingdom is the most important and that only by your strength and determination can it be secured. It’s doctrine is well summarized in the final stanza of Invictus, which reads, “It matters not how straight the gate, how charged with punishments the scroll, I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul.”
Nice poetry, perhaps. Broken theology, definitely.
In contrast, these Scriptures teach us that our first order of business is not to be the stiff-necked captain of our souls, but instead, to let go of the wheel so He can be The Captain. Our call is to love and trust the Lord with our whole heart and seek His kingdom, not our own.
Friends, if we only knew the true beauty and superiority of His kingdom above ours, we’d never view this as a sacrifice, but as an indescribable act of mercy and a privilege beyond measure.
So, here is my best advice for men seeking balance in life: get gloriously unbalanced. Throw all your weight towards loving the Lord with your whole heart. Abandon your kingdom. Run to His. Doing so will be the most daring and most rewarding adventure of your life (those two always travel as a pair). Then see what happens to the other parts of your life.
Here are some verses to guide us in the journey:
Ephesians 5:25 is freighted with meaning, so take your time. It commands us to love our wives “as Christ loved the church.” That begs the question, how did he love the church? I’d submit he loved the church both dangerously and completely, even to the point of giving His own life for her. Are we loving our wives dangerously like that? It’s only possible if we put our full faith in the Lord and the promises found in His Word.
Luke 2:52 says “And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.” Jesus developed as a whole man: in wisdom (intellectually), in stature (physically), in favor with God (spiritually) and man (socially). Use this verse as a blueprint to pray the same for your kids.
Ephesian 6:4 implores us to bring up our kids “in the training and instruction of the Lord.” You can teach your children simply by how you live, but I believe this verse implores us to share the written truth of Scripture, which means opening our Bibles with them. For us, this happens at the dinner table through family conversation.
1 John 1:4 shows us there is no greater joy than to know your children are walking with the Lord. I also realize there is perhaps no greater heartache than when they aren’t. Like the persistent widow of Luke 18, we pray and never give up.
All work has equal value in the eyes of the Lord. If you are working for Him, it doesn’t matter if you screw caps onto toothpaste tubes (thank you, Adrian Rogers) or serve in Congress. As Christians, we should be the most joyful and trustworthy workers. Here’s why – in Colossians 3, it is written, “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him,” and “whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord.” Whatever you do, you are working for God. What a privilege.
If all of this sounds impossible for you to accomplish, that’s because it is. But it’s not impossible for God. Remember, if God’s strength is perfected in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9), it will force us to be fully dependent on Him, then our insufficiency can become a strength. I have many weaknesses, so praise be to God, He will even use those for His glory.
DR. JULI SLATTERY is a widely known clinical psychologist, author, speaker, and broadcast media professional. She hosts a weekly podcast called Java with Juli, and blogs regularly at www.authenticintimacy.com.