January 3, 2005
Encouragement for Today

Finding Balance in a Tilted World
Glynnis Whitwer, Senior Editor P31 Woman, Speaker for Proverbs 31 Ministries, editor@proverbs31.org

Key Verse:

"You, Lord, give perfect peace to those who keep their purpose firm and put their trust in you." (Isaiah 26:3 TEV)


Devotion:

Balancing the needs of our families, jobs, homes and ministry seems to be a never-ending task.  Someone always needs our help, an assignment needs to be finished and laundry piles up.  There never seem to be enough hours in the day to do it all.

Finding balance is one of the top hurdles we face in life.  It's like we're those red and green Pokey and Gumby dolls of the 60's, whose arms, legs and heads could bend and stretch in multiple directions.  Although those rubber dolls didn't break, sometimes we break from the strain of demanding responsibilities. 

One of the most effective ways to live a balanced life is to live according to your priorities - those that are in line with God's priorities.  One of the challenges in living a balanced life is that many people have never identified their priorities, and many who have, don't make life choices that reflect them.

What Are Your Priorities?

A balanced life starts with being clear on the things that should take top priority.  If you aren't sure about your priorities, ask yourself the following questions.  I've offered you some of my answers in parenthesis.

What can only I do?   (Only I can develop my faith, take care of my health, be my husband's wife and be my three son's mother.)

What has God entrusted to me?   (God has entrusted me with the care of a home, the care of children, my health, the management of my time and money, to name a few.)

Am I a good steward of what I already have?    (Do I manage money well? Do I care for my home?  Do I love my husband and children the way I should?  Do I work as effectively as I can?)

What passion has God put in my heart?  (I have a passion for helping children and youth come to love Jesus, and for encouraging women to draw closer to God and align their lives with His will.)

What has God asked you to do that you haven't yet done?  (For years, I knew God was calling me to write, but I did nothing about it.)

Order Your Priorities

Once you've identified your priorities, list them in order of importance to you.  Then, allocate the number of hours each week you now devote to each one.  If you're like most of us, you'll find your priorities and time are out of balance.  The things you value most receive the least amount of your time and often the lowest amount of energy and enthusiasm as well.

Make Tough Decisions

Only you can make the tough decisions necessary to live a balanced life.  It often means sacrificing something you enjoy doing.  Rick Warren said, "If you want your life to have impact, focus it!  Stop dabbling.  Stop trying to do it all.  Do less.  Prune away even good activities and do only that which matters most."  

Finding balance in your life takes time.  Some things you can prune immediately, while others take time to fulfill the commitment you made.  Once you've identified your priorities, ordered them and cut some activities out of your life, you'll find you enjoy your newfound sense of balance in this tilted world.


My prayer for today

Heavenly Father, You are holy, righteous and true.  Your great love draws me to You.  Forgive me when I neglect to live according to the priorities you have in mind.  Help me to discover Your purpose for my life, and give me the courage to prune activities that keep me from that purpose.  In Jesus' name, Amen.


Application Steps:

List the top 5-10 priorities in your life.  Identify how many hours a week/month you dedicate to those priorities.  Pray about whether or not these priorities are in line with God's priorities. Make one or two changes to live according to your priorities.  When those changes are fully implemented, continue to make other changes until your priorities are fully His.


Reflection Points:

What do you think are God's top priorities for your life? (Consider Matthew 22:36-39)

What relationships/commitments take the most time in your life?  Are these at the top of your priority list?

If not, what changes can you make to reorder your commitments according to your priorities?

What is one thing you know God is asking you to do, but you haven't done yet?

Why is it important for you to live according to your priorities?


Power Verses:

"Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law? Jesus replied, 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'"  Matthew 22:36-39 (NIV)

"I am focusing all my energies on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead."  Philippians 3:13  (NLT)

"He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together." Colossians 1:16  (NIV)

"Don't live carelessly, unthinkingly.  Make sure you understand what the Master wants."  Ephesians 5:17  (MSG)

"No one can serve two masters.  Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other.  You cannot serve both God and money."  Matthew 6:24  (NIV)


Additional Resources:

P31 Woman Magazine by Proverbs 31 Ministries
http://www.gospelcom.net/p31/resources/newsletter.html

Becoming a Woman Who Listens to God by Sharon Jaynes
http://www.gospelcom.net/p31/resources/womanlistens.html

A Woman's Secret to a Balanced Life by Sharon Jaynes and Lysa TerKeurst
http://www.gospelcom.net/p31/resources/secretbalanced.html