This is a guest post by Matt Ham. He is a blogger and author at MattHam.com. He writes about what is really means to live richly.
Matt was born and raised in Wilmington, NC. Shortly after graduating college, he left his hometown to pursue a career in sales with a Florida based real estate company. In 2008, he returned to his hometown to begin his insurance agency with North Carolina Farm Bureau Insurance.
What is Life Balance, Anyway?
Last month, I was asked by a Christian organization called MOPS to speak to a local group of moms. I love speaking to groups, so I was naturally excited.
When I contacted the coordinator, she asked me if I could speak on the topic of life balance.
I had this billboard image in my head, my dreams realized.
“Tonight, Matt Ham speaking on Life Balance!”
I grabbed a pen and sat down to prepare. Life balance …
What the heck is life balance?
Earlier in the day, my wife, Liz, happened to ask me, “Do you do anything in moderation?”
How in the world was I going to talk about life balance when I didn’t have any?
I run an insurance agency, am a father to three boys, compete in triathlons, play the guitar, keep a blog, write books, speak, lead a Bible study, and, well, put it this way: I run in a thousand directions; my life seems far from balanced.
Later that week, when talking with a co-worker – a single mom herself – I told her about my upcoming talk. “What could you possibly say to a group of moms?” she wanted to know.
Her words stung, but resonated. I’m not a mom; I have no idea what it’s like. How could I possibly help them?
Fear started to set in.
The following week, I was approached by the president of a local insurance and financial advisors group who asked me to speak as well.
“Sure,” I said. “What would you like for me to speak about?”
“You seemed to have such a balanced approach to your life. Why don’t you talk about life balance?”
I immediately thought someone had put him up to this.
Within weeks, I had been asked to give two talks and both were on the concept of life balance. Something I didn’t feel any particular confidence in, yet something others seemed to be gaining from my writing.
To tie it all together, I was having lunch with one of my new Bible study guys, a 22-year-old college student. I immediately flashed back to a younger version of myself. He was involved in numerous campus ministries and was clearly running in many different directions.
I asked him, “What’s the No. 1 thing you’re struggling with right now?”
“Discipline,’’ he said without hesitating. “I need more discipline because my life doesn’t seem to have much balance.”
I decided to think over this concept of discipline and how it led to life balance.
I picked up an empty journal, having recently filled the pages of my other journals. The only words were written within the cover from the family friend who’d given it to me.
The word “diligent” caught my interest. So I opened the dictionary.
Diligent: “Constant effort to accomplish something; attentive and persistent in doing.”
I certainly felt very diligent in my actions. If I had a vice, maybe it was being too diligent. I was always going after something and always working toward a goal.
I then remembered a conversation from Bible study earlier in the week on the discipline of rest. How rest was necessary within any pursuit.
In that moment, I saw something.
Life balance in itself is a myth. Something we couldn’t possibly attain due to the organic nature of life. Things are always moving and we must keep up if we want to thrive. However, when the disciplines of diligence and rest collide we find something special. When you’re mastered by neither and fueled by both.
We must be equally diligent and restful in order to move in a certain direction. If we’re too restful, laziness can sink its claws into us. If we’re too diligent, we can burn ourselves out as we sprint to a perceived finish, only to find out that life is a marathon.
I have struggled with both ends of the diligence-rest spectrum in my past. In all honesty, I tend to lean toward one side until I become frustrated and compensate by going too far the other way.
This perceived balance is the product of our discipline. It occurs when we give equally to the discipline of diligence and the discipline of rest.
Question: Which one do you struggle with the most?
19 comments on “The Myth of Life Balance – Guest Post by Matt Ham”
Josh – thanks so much for sharing!
Amen! No such thing as life-balance, IMHO. The more we try to achieve it, the more frustrated we will grow because it is not there. I’d rather look at it as “life focus”. What are your goals in life? Mine are: having a God-centered marriage, raising happy and healthy children, taking care of myself physically, mentally and spiritually and serving my community through my work and ministry. That’s the filter. I try to limit or eliminate relationships, activities, or events around me that do not contribute to those goals.
Thanks, Matt from a wife and mom of two dealing with a full-time job, entrepreneur ventures and homeschool duties. I needed to read this!
That’s good, Lily. “Life focus”
THANK YOU Lily! I think we need to understand our calling which means we need to be centered in His guidance. From there, we can discern the steps that move us toward or away from each. Actions that are inconsistent with your goals are devastating!
Really liked this post Matt. And I would say I struggle more with rest. I get started on something and can’t seem to rest. Even though God himself did. Wouldn’t that mean I think I’m above Him? Hmm, something to think about.
This is a very good thought, Anne. Thanks for sharing!
Great thoughts Anne! And here’s the reality – God did rest, so we should too. The concept of out running God is a theme I feel like I struggle with. When I sense a distrust in His timing, I start pressing harder. I’m Martha instead of Mary…
I struggle with both balance and rest at times. There is always something to do and opportunities keep appearing, but there needs to be some sort of balance. If you are constantly pouring out for others, you may miss out on opportunities to fill yourself up. Loved this post.
I also find myself going from one extreme to the other. But then I find myself thinking about the other (i.e. thinking of work while resting, or thinking of resting while working), and limits my effectiveness.
Thanks so much Sarah! Managing the discipline of resting is essential. I actually wrote a post on my site today about silencing The Noise in our lives, that deals with pulling a chair up to the table of Stillness. http://mattham.com/2014/04/overcomingthenoise/
Great post, Matt. I have been giving talks about Life balance and I agree with what you wrote. I had been working with my own coach around that topic and felt I was in a good place until my son was born. The firstfew weeks I was waiting for someone to pick him up so I can finally get back to “normal” – this little human being got me out of balance until I was part of a telesummit about the topic “Standing out when life gets in the way”. Perfect topic for me. I realized that we tend to categorize our lives – one category is family, another friends etc etc.. Its like juggling different boxes and still trying to keep the balance, to not to drop one or the other. If we can acknowledge our lives as something whole, we wouldn’t even have to create balance. I always ask my clients the question: What would your life look like from wholeness? Usually you hear a sigh or a “that would give me so much peace”. No matter what shows up its simply part of the “whole”. I think what goes hand in hand with “life balance” is “surrender”. In my case I decided that life from wholeness means to surrender and honor whatever life throws my way and acknowledge it as part of the bigger picture….there is no need to balance, because I surrender …..and that’s when we get to the topic of control which would be way too much right now 🙂 Again, great post.
Looking at life as a whole really does change the perspective, doesn’t it?
It made a huge difference for me. I’m able to relax more and just live.
Totally Isabel – YOU are your ‘platform’. You can’t segregate your influence, it exists everywhere you are. I love your concept of surrender too!
Matt, thanks for sharing this post. I agree that there is no such thing as life balance. I believe the problem is that we don’t allow enough margin in our lives and that we are chasing after too many things. This reminds me of an old Chinese proverb: “He who chases two rabbits catches none.”
When we focus on a goal or small number of goals, we are able to devote our full attention to our pursuits and do them with excellence. When we are involved in too many things, there is no way we could begin to be diligent or disciplined about anything.
Chris – SO TRUE! I feel like I’m chasing rabbits all the time! Discipline right?! Thank for your wisdom and input!
Life balance is like you have a well settled family, job, children and your happiness. Means you are living a satisfied life and do not want any thing from God. You have regularity in life. And do have any sorrow in life. Enjoying with your family and children. Having as much money that you can feed your children and can fulfill all their needs.You have also planned the future of your children by doing policies.
To balance life is not any easy task. You have to do various things to make your life balanced and running in positive direction.
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