If you’re feeling busy or weary, lets talk.
In part 1 of this blogging series, we discussed the idea that: Success in one area of our lives won’t compensate for failure in another. The happiness of professional success will never make up for a lack of success in our marriage, friendships, parenting, etc. So, if you missed that blog, you can read it [here] http://goo.gl/DPVuBa
But here in part 2, I want to talk about 2 additional disciplines called: Rhythm and Focus. It’s taken me years to understand how to establish and protect these two skills.
Honestly, I can’t say that I’ve mastered either of these two skills. But I’m definitely getting better. Having a church full of young career folks and young families, I’m constantly reminded of how the juggling act of life works.
I constantly hear our young families say 1 of 2 things: “after getting married (or having kids), it feels like my time is continually getting fragmented.” Or “My ability to focus on the career path I imagined in my 20s keeps getting distracted and sidetracked.”
And if you can relate to this, I hate to tell you this but: “Welcome to the chaos of your young middle-aged life!” Right when it seems that big career advances are within reach – family seems to screw it up. Life gets perpetually more complicated (at least until your future kids get their drivers licenses : )
But it suffices to say: if you’re a single person (or young married person with no kids) and you struggle with reading your Bible, managing your money, or working out, you are SERIOUSLY going to struggle if kids or a big promotion happens (I hate to tell you that, but it’s true). With every year, with every promotion, and with every kid, the juggling act of life gets a little more complex.
But, before you melt into a wet pile of discouragement, the good news is this: God has a solution for you. And although the juggling act of life can feel unrelenting, juggling is all about rhythm and focus. And here’s how you can get better at it.
My juggling friends (who are very unique people), have told me: great juggling has very little to do with how many things you’re juggling (up to a certain point, of course.) But if you can maintain a sense of rhythm and focus, it’s incredible how many things you can keep in the air. And life is the same way.
Every new phase of life requires a new type of structure. For example, before I had kids, date nights were easy. There were no baby-sitters to pay. We never had to be disciplined about it. But after kids, date nights suddenly disappeared. Suddenly, I had to get a disciplined date-budget. We had to recruit and build an entire team of child-care workers! And I had to pick these nights in advance. I.e., My schedule created a rhythm. It created a bigger inward “Yes” that enabled me to say no to other things.
It’s the same thing with vacations and travel. I rarely accept a speaking gig unless I can fly in and out within 24 hours. Obviously, if my wife or kids can travel with me, I make exceptions. But, the cost on the rhythm of my family is too great. I’ve had to be equally rigid about giving up certain nights of my week. And sure, I have to disappoint people all the time. But my rhythm is too important. Once I lose it, I’ll have to drop everything. And that leads to the other skill: Focus.
Focus is all about priorities: If you don’t have goals for your marriage, your kids, your physical body, and your spiritual growth, you will always procrastinate them until you have a breakdown.
Imagine you’re juggling 5 balls and someone comes along and whips a ball at your gut. We all have an instinct to try to catch it. But a pro juggler always has their focus on one thing: Maintaining the balls they’re currently juggling.
Ironically, success is all about strategically disappointing people. I have to live with a chronic feeling of guilt that I’m not living up to the expectations of those around me. Choosing right doesn’t mean you get to feel right. And the same is true with healthy living. There will always be people who won’t understand your God-instituted priorities. You have to be O.K. with that.
But here’s my greater point, if you find yourself losing touch with your family or losing your focus on God, you will quickly wear yourself out trying to juggle things that God has never called you to juggle. In many ways, my weariness is the greatest metric of my connection to God. Being “tired” is a natural consequence of promotion. However being “weary” is a natural consequence of trying to “build our houses” or careers in a way that exceeds God’s timing or pace.
So, ask yourself: what’s your “weariness level?” Do you find yourself whining about everyone around you? Do you feel like life is “living you,” rather than you “living it?” At some point, your body and emotions will force you to surrender to God’s pace and God’s priorities. Live at such a pace where worrisome thought are simply incapable of sneaking around undetected.
After all, God doesn’t think about our success in five-year increments. He’s looking at “generational success” – the long view of our lives. And if we take the long view of success along with him, we will naturally be a lot wiser about how we “plot our course.” Amen?
“Heavenly father, help us to experience you. You will open all of the right doors of promotion and success at all of the right times as we rest in you and prioritize our families. Help us avoid the trap filling our hearts with worldly success that leaves us empty. In Jesus’s name, amen.”
Ps. If you’re in the Twin Cities, we just launched our new Northtown Campus! Come celebrate our brand new series launching Feb 21st!