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?