Word of the Week


Albert Einstein once said, "Life is like a riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving."

Though I can't ride an actual bicycle (yes, it is true-- anyone want to teach me though many have tried and failed?), I have been in several conversations lately with colleagues, friends and even with our pastoral intern about life/ work balance in the pastorate.

In one such conversation, I was told by a good friend that I seem to be pretty good at finding life and work balance.

"What?" was my first response followed by immediate laughter. Knowing how much I struggle with it, I thought: "Balanced, me? No way!" Life in a non 9-5 job is a difficult game of finding your place at home and at work, making hard decisions, saying yes and a lot of saying no. It is a game I seem to play with as much self-awareness as I can muster up every day of the week. It is a game that never will have an end.

But, then my friend said, "Well, maybe that is exactly the point. You find your balance in the struggle."

The struggle comes, for me,  in knowing often how much work is enough-- how many visits does one person in the hospital need to receive over the course of any illness? How many committee meetings of the church do I need to attend? How many social gatherings of church members do I need to support and enjoy? Because often the expectations of pastor seems to be more, more and more.

The struggle comes in whether or not I will stay at home an extra 30 minutes to  fold laundry or get to work early. The struggle comes in watching a tv show or movie I really want to enjoy or doing some professional writing. The struggle comes in working on my day off when crisis hits or saying it can wait one more day.

At the same time I want to be a good wife. I want to be a good friend. I want to be a good community member. And, really where is the time to make it all work when your professional job is so time intensive?

Sometimes I'm not sure. Sometimes, I'm not sure how I could add one more thing to my life without sinking completely.

But, I what I do know is that I usually know when I'm working too much-- for dread sets in because there hasn't been Sabbath time away for renewal. My ideas aren't as fresh. I don't have new direction about this or that on my way to work in the morning.  My husband wonders when I'm going to be home for dinner at least one night during the week. And, I haven't had a good conversation with a friend in weeks.

I usually know when I'm not working enough-- problems seem to pile up in my email inbox or on my voicemail. The office administrator doesn't get the time she needs from me to help hold all the tasks together and those in need don't receive lunch appointments or visits. The sermon doesn't get the research it deserves.

While there might not be some perfect way to achieve balance, a lot of the balance comes in keeping going. If I work too much this week, I'll play too much next week. If I play too much this week, I'll work too much next week.

I'm a general believer in the fact that there is always time for things worth doing.

Yes, there's time to take trips out-of-town with friends for pleasure. Yes, there is time to prepare for the sermons during the week. Yes, there is time to take the whole day off to hang with my husband. Yes, there is time to hang  with a friend who is having a bad day. Yes, there is time to plan for this upcoming study. The rest just seems to fall to the wayside. The goal is just to let it go, and go in peace.

This may this be my thought of the day for all of us who struggle with the balance game. Just keep walking . . . one foot in front of another.