“A lot of people’s lives are like poor photographs: over-exposed and underdeveloped.”
Howard Hendricks, one of my favorite authors, once said the above statement, which is true for many of us. Our daily routines are seen by many especially with the rise of social networks where we can easily broadcast ourselves publicly. We have contacts with a lot of people, but our private lives are sometimes left underdeveloped. As a person with many hats to wear, a pastor, NGO director, internet marketing consultant, a Bible college instructor and a family man, I have to constantly watch myself and make sure that I keep everything in balance, most especially my personal life.
We can sometimes feel like a performer in a circus where we would have tall skinny poles and a stack of dishes. Then we would start swirling the pole until we got the dish perfectly twirling and balanced. Then we would take another pole and dish and start another, then another, and another. The problem is that about the time we get down to the sixth or seventh swirling dish, number one would start to fall off. So we would have to run back real quick to get that one twirling… then back to another to keep it up and balanced. Pretty soon, we would feel frustrated and fatigued, which is usually the result of imbalance in our lives.
God’s word has something to say about living a balanced life. Luke 2:52 says, “And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.” This account of Jesus’ own development identifies four areas we need to develop and be balanced in.
1. Mental balance
Guarding our minds from things that can poison it and anything not necessarily bad but is not really necessary and then feeding our minds with brain food and the wealth of wisdom from the Bible can help us achieve mental balance. We must never stop developing mentally and never stop learning.
Slow down. Schedule some time to think. Challenge yourself to learn something new. Develop a regular reading plan. Spend time with people who sharpen you mentally and learn from them. Write down your ideas. Your mind is one of the greatest gifts that God gave you and you are responsible to use it, develop it and keep it sharp.
2. Physical balance
I do not intend to write a lecture on getting in shape or losing weight, don’t worry. But you may feel that it is too late for you to be balanced in this area. Then, let me share with you a story that Dr. Kenneth Cooper, the man who invented aerobics, shared.
He tells the story of the 46-year-old who came to him who had back pains that were so terrible that she could not walk further than 75 feet without having to sit down. She was stooped over and couldn’t stand up. As a result, it killed all of her social life. She was in constant pain and disability.
When she came to Dr. Cooper, he advised her to have back surgery but she refused. She wanted to try something else. She began to walk on a treadmill. She found that when she put the treadmill at a certain angle she could walk without being in pain for about 25 seconds. So she began to walk on the treadmill several times a day. Soon she found she could lower the treadmill more and more until finally she was walking on a flat surface without any pain for the first time in months. Next, she started to do some slow jogging with her walking routine. Eventually she began jogging continuously from 5 km to 8 km to 16 km at each outing. Eventually, this 46-year-old woman ran nine marathons with her best time being 3 hours and 3 minutes, a great time for any woman or man of any age.
You can change if you want to. You can maintain your ideal weight, balance your diet, commit yourself to a regular exercise program and get enough sleep and rest if you want to. It’s never too late.
3. Spiritual balance
This is part of our personal lives, and this is the part that is often overlooked. In our country, the only Christian nation in Asia, many people treat God like a fire extinguisher – for emergency use only.
We need to understand that God wants to have a personal relationship with each of us and that means more than just having a religion, following a set of good things to do and reaching out to God only when we need Him.
4. Social balance
Relationships. We can have everything right in our lives but if our relationships are lousy, life stinks. You can be a millionaire. You can be popular. You can be well known and successful. But if you’ve got people that you’re at odds with, life is going to be tough.
I have never seen a person in his or her death bed asking for the trophies, achievements, bank books and other things he or she accumulated. Usually, a dying person would ask for his or her loved ones. So take time to appreciate the people in your family, especially those you often take for granted. Mend that broken relationship. Forgive and love unconditionally.
I may be biased, but I believe without any reservation that a balanced life starts when you choose to put Jesus Christ at its center. Through a personal relationship with Him, you can start over, have a new beginning and a clean slate, and you will find not just balance but fulfillment that only He alone can give.
The above article was also published via PhilStar.com on October 18, 2011.