Do you have good work-life balance? Did Jesus? When I think about the tension we all face with finding the right balance in life, I consider the life of Jesus and wonder how He did it. Not to sound sacrilegious, but there are times when His life seemed a bit out of balance. But maybe that shows us something we need to learn.
Here’s what I mean. In just the first chapter of Mark’s Gospel, Jesus calls some men to follow Him (vv. 16-20), enters Capernaum on the Sabbath and teaches and casts out a demon (vv. 21-28), “immediately” heals Simon’s mother-in-law (vv. 29-31), ministers well into the evening (vv. 32-34), and rises “very early in the morning, while it was still dark” to pray (v. 35), and then moves on right away to the next town where He continues to preach (vv. 36-40). This led to Jesus cleansing a leper (vv. 40-44), which multiplied into Jesus’ fame spreading so quickly, He could no longer enter a town, and people would come to Him from “every quarter” (v. 45).
Feeling tired yet?
The word “immediately” is used 35 times in Mark’s Gospel, which encapsulates Mark’s theme of the vast activity of Jesus, traveling throughout Galilee into Judea, back to Galilee, and eventually into Jerusalem where He was crucified.
I doubt that Jesus was too worried about “life balance,” but it does appear He was focused on “right priorities.” This is no dismissal of healthy rhythms—the ebb and flow of solitude and community, work and play, action and rest. From the outside looking in, Jesus’ life balance seems a little off kilter, but it’s not. Jesus’ life balance centered around having right priorities.
Jesus prioritized His relationship with the Father, His relationship with the disciples, and His mission to redeem humankind and become the Firstborn from the resurrection from the dead. He counterbalanced his life balance when needed. If He needed to spend more time with someone whom others overlooked, like the woman at the well (John 4), He did. That was His priority. If He knew the disciples needed to rest, He welcomed them to do just that (Mark 6:31), because that was His current priority.
The lesson I see in all of this is that priorities drive balance. When we pursue balance, we’re chasing the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. When we pursue our priorities, we get balance thrown in.
In Jesus’ life we learn that when we’re supposed to be working, work and when we’re supposed to be playing, play. When you’re supposed to be at your kid’s soccer game, be fully present. Put your phone down. Don’t text. Don’t check emails. Your child is your priority. And when you’re supposed to be at work, don’t slothfully waste time and troll through the internet. At that moment, work is your priority.
Set your priorities and balance your life accordingly. But, in the wise words of James Patterson, remember this:
Life is a game in which you are juggling five balls. The balls are called work, family, health, friends, and integrity. And you’re keeping all of them in the air. But one day you finally come to understand that work is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it will bounce back. The other four balls—family, health, friends, integrity—are made of glass. If you drop one of these, it will be irrevocably scuffed, nicked, perhaps even shattered (Gary Keller, The One Thing, 82).
Don’t see life as a balancing act; see it as a counterbalancing act directed by your priorities.