I will admit my life is out of balance right now and I am ok with that. In fact, I am about to enter the craziest time of a youth pastor’s life: The Summer. I will be at two different camps, a number of regular events, a couple of speaking engagements, and will squeeze a couple of family trips in as well. And while at the end of the summer I will be exhausted and need to take some time to recover, I will love every minute while in the midst of it.
Long ago when I was first getting into ministry I was encouraged to make sure I was balanced in my ministry and personal life. Find balance or you will burn out. I didn’t and I almost did. I was available at all hours of the day and day of the week. I wanted to do all I could for the teens that I had been called to minister too and I assumed that meant to be available. And then I was encouraged if not commanded to find balance. And so I began to try to find this mystical balance between personal/family and work/ministry balance.
I read books on rest. I went to seminars on time management. I would listen to speaker after speaker at conferences and training sessions on the importance of balance but I could not ever hit a point where life was in balance. I would say that there were times I got tired and weary trying to make sure I was finding balance.
Then over the past few years especially during a season where my ministry role changed and I was busy during the school year and summer was a time of rest, I learned a very important lesson and it has shifted the way I view my family and my ministry. And to be perfectly honest, I most of the time I think it makes me a better husband, daddy, and pastor. I stopped seeking balance and started to seek something better.
I am seeking Harmony.
Some might wonder what is a difference. But as I have become more engaged understanding my roles, harmony fits better. In fact, I would say that harmony actually makes more sense and allows me to be my best in the moment rather than trying to split or protect or be worried about overdoing it.
Balance is defined as: “an even distribution of weight enabling someone or something to remain upright and steady; a condition in which different elements are equal or in the correct proportions.”
And while that sounds good, the truth is to find balance you have to give up something when it’s too much. And there are those who would say that anytime work gets in the way give that up but often we sacrifice from all areas in order to really achieve a balanced life.
Now compare that with the definition of harmony; “Agreement, accord; harmonious relations; a consistent, orderly or pleasing arrangements of parts.” I love that! To be in agreement, a pleasing arrangement of parts. When there is harmony in music, things are being presented in their correct way that work together in a positive way. It’s “the simultaneous combination of tones, especially when blended into chords pleasing to the ear; chordal structure, as distinguished from melody and rhythm.”
Which is why I have decided to seek harmony rather than balance. When I was seeking balance, my ministry AND my personal life suffered because I was constantly trying to weigh how much I had given and how much I had left to give. When I started seeking harmony, I realized that there were going to be times where I would have to give more to ministry to make sure I was fulfilling what it was that God had called me too. I want to be a faithful servant to all that God has entrusted me with both professionally and personally. Which means there are times I have to give more to ministry and my family gets me a little less. But then, we hit those slower seasons and I am able to give more to my family while still fulfilling my duties as a pastor.
The trick with harmony is making sure you are playing the right notes, the right part, in the right timing. It’s being as fully present as you possibly can. See harmony doesn’t just happen. It takes some serious focus and intentionality. But I have found that the more I seek harmony, the easier it is to find and the less amount of energy it takes to stay present and focused.
And I don’t think this is just a pastor thing. There are so many who know their lives are out of balance and yet don’t know how to remedy it without making one or all areas of life suffer. Regardless of what you do, who you are, what roles you are asked to play, seeking harmony brings the beautiful sound to our ears that life is humming along and making beautiful music.