Jordan Raynor, author of Called to Create proclaims, “You can’t open Twitter or Instagram without seeing someone talking about “work-life balance.” It seems like all of us are searching for this elusive ideal.” Are we searching for the wrong thing?
Jordan goes on to say, “There are two things that have long bothered me about our collective striving for work-life balance. First, I think the term is steeped in an unbiblical view of work which says that “work” is a necessary evil in order to enjoy the truly meaningful things in “life.” By its very nature, the term treats “work” and “life” as separate—as if work isn’t a critical part of our lives. You and I know that this is not at all what the Bible teaches. The Hebrew word “avodah” is translated into our Bibles to mean “work,” and “worship,” and “service.” The writers of Scripture didn’t see work and life as something to be separated by a hyphen. They viewed work as something to be seamlessly integrated and connected to our whole lives.”
Joanna Gaines, the Fixer Upper star, wrote in her recent edition of Magnolia Magazine that the most frequent question she gets asked is, “How do you manage to balance it all?” She talks about her desire to seek a life of balance and how she started off trying to compartmentalize all of her different roles – mother, daughter, wife, sister, friend, designer… This just led to the ideal of taking off hats, and trying to put on other hats, like she couldn’t be one whole person. No matter how hard she tried to compartmentalize all of her roles into neat and tidy boxes – the contents of those boxes seemed to always be spilling over into other areas of her life. Things always came up and nothing ever stayed neat and tidy for very long. She wrote, “I lived in suspended breath, always feeling like the porcelain plate of my life was one misstep from falling or shattering into a million pieces. My world felt fragile. I started to see how little grace would exist for me if I continued to live my life in between those neatly packaged squares.”
That is the truth. We can’t live our lives in disconnect and in separate spaces. We are a whole person who needs to encompass all things at all times. Equally being a wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend and designer… or whoever you are and whatever roles you fulfill. Joanna no longer strives for balance. Now she seeks wholeness. Joanna eloquently shared, “I truly believe that when we show up for the things we care for deeply with our whole selves, that’s where we’ll find the kind of meaning and fulfillment that can withstand any sort of shifting sand –no balance required.”
Jordan reiterates Joanna’s point by reminding us that, “balance is the wrong aim for our lives. Dictionary.com defines balance as a state of equilibrium and an equal distribution of weight [or] amount. I don’t see any biblical evidence to support the idea that we are to have an equal distribution of weight placed on work, family, worship, friendships, and the other things that make up our lives. What I do see Scripture commanding us to do IS – do [everything] for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). In the words of the late great pastor Dr. D. James Kennedy, we Christians are called to pursue “excellence in all things and all things to God’s glory.”
So, rather than asking how we can achieve work-life balance, I’d like to propose a different, and I believe more biblical question: How can we achieve “whole-life excellence,” doing everything we’ve committed ourselves to – FOR the glory of God?