By ROY HARRIS
Have you ever found yourself torn between family responsibilities and a job?
Have you heard it said that if you want something done, give it to the busiest person in the room and then you seem to end up being that person?
Have you gotten a little irritable and maybe lost your patience or temper when others failed to act or perform the way you felt they should; only later realizing that you misread the situation or overreacted because of the stress you were under? Unfortunately, this happens to some of the nicest people. Personal needs, family life, and job responsibilities… how in the world can we keep it all together?
I’ve been in some form of management or leadership role, with all the pressures that go with it, most of my adult life. I’m certainly no expert and each person’s situation is unique, but there are some basic principles which seem to help and hold true in most situations.
If we are to keep IT together, then we should remember what IT is. IT is our lives as a whole. Our lives are made up of a combination of relationships and each one requires a certain amount of our time, talent and even treasure.
How we manage these relationships directly impacts our health and happiness. I once heard a man make a redundant statement which really is true: “Always keep the main thing the main thing.” Keeping the main thing the main thing requires a balancing act of sorts and requires making choices. How do we make good choices? By deciding what is most important to us.
Our personal lives could be divided into two areas; our private and public lives. If we are going to keep it all together we must find a way to balance these two.
Our private lives bring fulfillment and happiness which can never come from anywhere else. This is a very important principle to remember. Our private lives are made up of three key relationships; our relationship with ourselves, our family and our maker. Happiness and contentment begins with being at peace with one’s self. Finding personal time on a regular basis to do something you enjoy must be done on purpose and usually doesn’t happen by accident. Good emotional and physical health directly impacts our other relationships. Sacrificing for others is noble, but failing to attend to one’s personal needs will eventually have a negative impact on both our private and public lives. Our family relationships must trump our public lives. Unhappiness at home will translate into less effectiveness outside the home.
Our families must know and believe that they are more important than anything in our public lives. They would much rather spend time with us than to have us spend money on them. Instead of talking about the things we bought for them as kids, my grown children mention far more often the times we took them fishing, bowling or to Chucky Cheese.
Our public lives are made up of a number of key relationships also; our friends, our jobs, church family and others. More often than not, our public lives complicate our private lives. If we make our private lives a priority then it will help us better manage our public lives. If we are employed outside the home, there are certain demands which come with the job. We expect a certain amount of our time and talent to be devoted to the job. The Bible reminds us that we have a responsibility to take care of our family’s needs. Adam actually had the first human job of dressing & keeping the Garden of Eden. So work is an honorable thing, but we must be careful not to allow work to become the dominant thing. Molding children and growing with a mate are far more important than making money.
We are created with a built-in need for social interaction with others. Friends, church family, community involvement are all important. They fulfill a need to be with people, contribute to society and make a difference in the lives of others. Involvement with others outside the home, however, must be governed by what we realistically have time to do.
That is also another great principle to remember. It’s OK to say NO! No is sometimes the appropriate answer in some situations. One thing about it, you can never please all the people all the time so do what you feel in your heart is the best thing each time.
Practical Principles for Keeping IT Together
Planning for work and play should be focused through the lens of personal priorities. Our personal peace and contentment directly impacts other relationships.
Private life commitments should be considered first and take priority over our public life. Remember your children will be all grown up before you know it. Do NOW what you will wish you had done later.
The greatest thing you can do for your children is to love your spouse. Make time for and work hard on making that a high priority. The Scriptures remind us that one’s close relationship with our heavenly Father has a positive, direct impact on our personal peace and contentment.
The Bible has a great book called Proverbs written by a wise King named Solomon. It’s one of the most practical works on keeping IT all together that I’ve read. The book has 31 chapters and provides practical principles for private and public relationships. A great suggestion is to read one chapter each day using the day of the month as a guide and reading an extra chapter or two on the last day of the month, with months which have less than 31 days. You might be surprised how much practical wisdom you’ll find in just 31 short days.
Sometimes trying to keep IT all together seems impossible! However, if you do your best to keep the main thing the main thing, you will be amazed how the other things fall into place.