Life includes numerous roles and responsibilities. In the home alone, you can be nurse, teacher, chef, and taxi driver—all in the same five minutes. But can I ask you a question? When you look at “all the things,” do you ever get overwhelmed? Do you ever feel the pressure to find “balance” in your life, but don’t know where to begin?
I’ve been there, friend. I spent years trying to achieve life balance. But whenever I had a glimmer of hope that balance was in sight, our season would change, causing me to begin again. Can you relate?
It’s been an imperfect journey, but over the last few years, I’ve realized why I never achieved that life balance I strived so hard to find:
God never intended me to balance my life.
The word“balance” implies everything in your life has equal importance. But God’s Word lovingly teaches about our priorities:
“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” – Matthew 6:33
In simple terms? Put God first, and He orders everything else.
I know I’ve spent a large portion of my life striving to get “all the things.” Growing up, I strived for good grades and praise from adults. In my teen years, I added striving for extracurricular achievements, the right clothes, and popularity. Then, it was about getting into the right college, getting the right job, and getting married.
The striving cycle continued into adulthood. I strived to be a great mom, to be a leader in my work, and to be an encouraging and influential voice within my church, my community, and on social media.
It wasn’t necessarily that I wanted bad things. But my striving tried to accomplish good things in the wrong way. God doesn’t want us to go about our lives striving for our own purposes, friend. The Christian life isn’t about striving to be good so we “measure up” to deserve Jesus.
God knew that no matter how hard we tried, in our sin, we would all fall short of His glory, so he offers salvation as a free gift (Romans 3:23). Jesus came to live the life we never could, to die the death we deserved, and to defeat the grave, so we could share in His righteousness and victory through our faith in Him (2 Corinthians 5:21).
The gospel centers on surrender, and so should our lives. Through Jesus, God provides us a way out of the cycle of striving for our own goals that will never satisfy us. Instead, we can surrender to live for Him fully, which is the only way to find lasting satisfaction.
Striving is about me and what I want. Surrendered effort is about God and what He wants.
Surrendered effort isn’t void of ambition. It just refocuses our ambition from ourselves to his Kingdom. We’re no longer striving for the things of this world, but we’re ambitious with an eternal perspective.
As we make God our top priority, it doesn’t get rid of the other responsibilities and roles in our lives. But rather than looking to ourselves to juggle it all, we have placed our trust in Him—where it belongs. The freedom available to us in surrendering everything we are to God has the power to end our feelings of being pulled in so many directions.
Here are three ways I’ve discovered I can put this truth into practice:
1. Priorities aren’t proven by merely a written list, but how we actually live.
If we don’t live proactively, we will naturally default to living reactively. With reactive living, our priorities will change depending on the opinions and opportunities in front of us at that given moment. Proactive living allows us to keep our priorities by honoring them as we make decisions. For example, saying we prioritize family before work is easy. But do we actually live that out?
There will always be exceptions, but consider these questions:
- Are you more likely to make work wait because it’s family time or more likely to cheat family time so you can get more done?
- Who gets your best and who gets your leftovers?
And here’s the one that always gets me. I call it the Proverbs 31:28 Test: “Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her.” Husbands and children won’t always recognize and praise our work. As our faithful efforts go unnoticed, we must ultimately work unto the Lord. Even if others around us aren’t calling us “blessed,” it’s a question that challenges us to consider whether or not our family feels loved and cared for:
- From the way I lived my life today, would my highest earthly praise come from my family?
Deciding to live our priorities means that, most of the time, our big decisions are already made before specific situations arise.
John Maxwell said it best: “Learn to say ‘no’ to the good so you can say ‘yes’ to the best.”
2. Her life won’t look exactly like yours (and that’s a good thing!).
Social media is not terrible in itself, but just like a hammer is a useful tool in the hands of a carpenter but it becomes a dangerous weapon in the hands of your toddler, we must be careful not to let the ability to watch someone else live their life prevent us from living our own lives.
Too often, we fall for the lie that the unfulfilled feeling that rises up inside of us would leave if we just had that new job, or that natural ability, or if we were simply in that next season of raising kids.
But often, that unfulfilled feeling is simply because we aren’t making the most of where we are right now. We can stop waiting for what’s next or wanting more. Fully investing in where God has us now is far more fulfilling than waiting on things beyond our control.
In fact, a popular verse about “doing all things thought Christ” that we often see accompany victory is really about contentment more than achievement. Read the preceding verses:
”Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” – Philippians 4:11-13
Contentment is much more likely to result from trusting God, no matter what, not in longing for another assignment.
3. Join God’s main mission to find your specific assignment.
Most of us would prefer our own burning bush moment like Moses had or the blinding light on the road to Damascus that sparked the Apostle Paul’s conversion. But those moments are the exceptions in the Bible, not the rule.
Think of it this way. If you played a sport when you were younger, you joined a team first, and then, you were assigned a position.
So ask yourself: Are you asking God for a specific position without showing up to be a part of the team?
Jesus put it this way:
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” – Matthew. 28:18-20
This is God’s agenda. So when we find ourselves in those new seasons, trying to identify where God wants to use us, we can aim to be obedient to His general call to all believers.
Right where He has us.
You know the beautiful part of the Great Commission? God doesn’t ask any of us to take on this giant task alone. As Christ-followers, we come together, knowing God has uniquely placed and called each of us to be His representative to those around us.
For some, God’s call will mean actually picking up and going to the ends of the earth to spread the gospel. For others, it will mean pursuing intentional discipleship in their homes and their local churches.
Both matter, and both are needed. There are no insignificant Kingdom contributions.
God doesn’t merely love what is big; He loves what it His.
Please know the work you do to display the gospel, whether leading a Bible study for hundreds, or reading a Bible story to your kids at bedtime, is eternally significant.
There is a very real battle for your heart happening. The world’s view often makes us believe that our impact is attached to doing “more.” But God’s truth reminds us that our impact is tied to doing less of most things so we can do more of what really matters.
So the next time you find yourself navigating “all the things”, remember this:
Striving will never satisfy you. Surrendered effort leads you to the only One who satisfies.