The Myth Of Balance (Book Review)

Until we take responsibility, we will continue to pursue balance and blame others when we can’t find it.  – Frank Bealer

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I’ve been in church leadership for over 20 years, and I’ve experienced A LOT of dysfunction in the church.  The size of the church doesn’t decrease or increase the severity of the dysfunction either.  But I will say this.  The last 3 churches I’ve had the honor of serving on staff at were roughly 750, 1000, and currently 2000 in weekend attendance.  The dysfunction is the same.  It’s the QUANTITY that gets you!

But let’s not blame the church.  The church is made up of people (you and I), and it’s no different than a marriage relationship.  Problems are almost always connected to both sides.  That’s what I appreciate about this book.  It addresses the side leaders can have direct influence on.  OURSELVES!

I have been following Frank Bealer for the past few years and have enjoyed listening to his interviews on Carey Nieuwhof’s Leadership Podcast.  The Myth of Balance, however, elaborates on an entirely deeper level of Frank the leader, and Frank the husband/father.  He is authentic with certain ministry challenges, and if you’ve been in ministry longer than 6 months you will likely relate.  In fact, there were two points in the book which caused a knot in my throat (Don’t judge.  I’m more sensitive than the average guy).

Disclaimer:  This book is NOT for leaders who are hung up on ego and need to be NEEDED by the church.  It is, however, for those who are clearly called to making a difference in God’s Kingdom work while SIMULTANEOUSLY leading a healthy family.

Let’s get to the book.  Below is a short list of my favorite quotes from The Myth of Balance.

“Balance. It lives somewhere between unemployment and renowned success.”

“God never intended for us to sacrifice the family He blessed us with on the altar of the ministry He called us to.”  (read that one a couple more times)

“We often excuse our mismanagement of time, energy, and effort as just being busy.”

“Just because you FEEL overwhelmed doesn’t mean your work schedule is paralyzing you.”

WHEN THIS, THEN THAT… it’s coming to realize that exceptions in ministry are going to happen.  They always do.  So Frank offers a practical approach to planning for these exceptions.  Get a copy for you and your team HERE and discover your WHEN THIS, THEN THAT.  I promise…..this will create real growth conversations in your staff.

 

You can also connect with me on Twitter and Instagram!

 

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Sabbatical | Day 1

A Sabbath, in it’s simplest terms, is a time of rest.  I am fortunate to be on staff at a church that puts a high value on personal health.  We are encouraged to take an additional day each month (or 3 days per quarter) for personal Spiritual rest and rejuvenation.  This is the first church in 23 years of ministry where I’ve experienced anything like this.

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Every time I am on a Sabbatical experience I like to journal my thoughts.  It keeps me focused.  It’s a form of meditation for me.

So, I’m out of town for 3 days.  Mostly, I try to catch up on sleep and enjoy some much needed solitude.  But I do have a few areas of focus for those 3 days.

Reading | A significant part of my reading plan does include the Bible and a couple different devotional resources.  Additionally, I am reading ‘No Other Gods: Confronting Our Modern Day Idols‘ by Kelly Minter.

Prayer | I am very intentional to pray over my family.  This is always first.  I am also praying for the next 6 months of our new multisite church campus.  Prayer for specific families, continued healthy growth, and renewed vision are key focal points this week.

Entertainment | I like to eat at places I usually don’t get a chance to eat at where I live.  I will also try to watch 1 or 2 movies on Netflix, since I don’t normally have time to watch many movies during a regular work week.  And adult coloring (a form of art therapy) is something new I’m trying this week in an effort to clear my thoughts.  Looking forward to this.

Planning | This will include looking ahead at the next few months.  Strategically making initial plans and doing a little self-evaluation as well.  I will normally try to schedule my next 3-day Sabbatical during this time.  If I don’t it will likely not happen when it should.

Have you had any kind of a Sabbatical experience before?  What did you do?  And if not, what part of this post sounds intriguing to you personally?

Join the discussion, leave a comment below.

 

Photo credit:  pixshark.com 

The One Commandment Most Church Leaders Break Often

Church leaders are some of the worst examples of modeling healthy rest.  I wrestled with this for years!

God even commands us to do it……yet we don’t.

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…the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work…  Exodus 20:8-11

Now, I’m not talking about a legalistic approach to the Sabbath, which includes checking off a ton of boxes to show we are ‘keeping the law.’ The deeper purpose of the Sabbath is so much more.

Taking one day every week and giving it Sabbath consideration does two things.

  • It proves to God that we really do care about what He tells us.
  • It forces us to create healthy margin in an increasingly busy society.

So…why do church leaders constantly struggle with taking a full day of rest?

Guilt | This is especially true of senior leaders.  “The church is paying me to be the Pastor at all times.”  No they’re not!  You are in your leadership position to lead the congregation in healthy relationship to God.  That means letting others see in you how to live the life God has called us all to live.

Poor time management | “There is work to be done every day of the week.”  Yes there is, but it can be done in six days.  Pre-plan your studying, phone calls, meetings, appointments, and regular tasks to fit into 5 or 6 days.  This is what ‘keep the Sabbath holy’ means.

Savior complex | Can I just shoot straight on this one?  If you think you can’t take a literal day of rest because someone in the church ‘might need’ you, there’s a problem.  What eventually happens here is people in the church learn to lean more on us as pastors and less on their faith in Jesus.

May I offer you a challenge?  Take one of your regular days off and give it Sabbath consideration.  For me, that day is Monday.  Sunday is church and leadership…that’s work.

Be sure to check out my post on ‘4 Tips To Having A Good Day Of Rest.’

If this helped you, I’d encourage you to share it with someone else who could use it today.

Join the discussion.  Leave a comment below. 

Where do you need ‘Margin?’

From one pastor to another…

‘margin’ : an amount of something included so as to be sure of success.

This is something my wife and I have been holding each other accountable for recently.  We say, “Are you planning for margin today?” or “Did you practice margin in the office?”  Here’s what I call God-marginIt’s the intentional, scheduled interruption of the abyss of monotony.  All of us struggle with monotony…every day.  We become so ‘task-oriented’ that we don’t make time to be ‘Spirit-oriented.’

O God, we meditate on your unfailing love as we worship in your Temple.     Psalm 48:9 (NLT)

This is not only for when we are in Church.  Our bodies are temples as well (1 Cor. 6:19).  We need to meditate, or deeply focus our thoughts, on the things of Jesus throughout our day.  I work in a church office, and its even difficult there.  One practice I’ve been making a habit of is simply setting two alarms on my phone before I leave home.  I evaluate my schedule for the day so I don’t interrupt an appointment.  Usually, the first alarm is set for 10 or 11am…the other around 2 or 3pm.  Next, I pull up the ‘verse of the day’ on my Bible App…read it…and leave my office.  Just 3-5 minutes to physically change my environment by walking to the other end of the building for a drink of water, allowing the words of that verse to permeate my thoughts, is all it takes to keep me focused.

Where is monotony in your day, and how can you insert ‘margin’ to interrupt it?  Comment below.