Dr. Steve A. Brown develops Jesus-centred
leaders as president of Arrow Leadership
( www.ArrowLeadership.org). He is the author of
Leading Me: Eight Keys to a Christian Leader’s
Most Important Assignment (Castle Quay, 2015)
and Great Questions for Leading Well.
The critical importance of balance, particularly work- life balance, has long been held as an unchangeable
truth and vital aspiration in the
workplace. And no wonder – we’ve
all seen the devastating consequences that can come to key relationships and even personal health
when work consumes people.
But I’d like to put forward a
I’ve said goodbye to balance. In
fact, I don’t even think the word
itself is helpful anymore.
Let me explain.
For many years I daydreamed
about being able to adeptly juggle
each area of my life – God, work,
family, friends, hobbies, etc. – with
the calm of a street busker juggling
flaming chainsaws on a unicycle.
I’ve imagined feeling deep tranquility and proud accomplishment at
preventing any priority from ever
falling to the ground, and also a
special connection with God that
would be part of this perfect alignment and equilibrium.
In pursuit of this dream, I’ve read
extensively about balance, relentlessly pursued it, and regularly encouraged others to find it. However,
to my frustration and dismay, I’ve
found it to be ever elusive.
So I have doubled down, tried to
more efficiently juggle my roles and
responsibilities, and mustered
The result? I’ve fallen short again
and again, finding myself with
competing commitments that
seem impossible to resolve, as well
as feelings of guilt and frustration
that drive more fruitless attempts.
I’ve come to believe the problem
isn’t me – it’s balance. Let me share
three reasons why.
First, I do believe balance is essential – for juggling on unicycles,
gymnastics, tightrope walking, financial statements, diets and many
other things. However, in our increasingly complex, ever more
chaotic and rapidly changing world,
I don’t think balance is possible or
even preferable for our lives.
The ground is shifting too quickly for anyone – particularly leaders
– to find balance for more than a
Second, I am doubting balance is
even biblical. When I look at the
life of Christ, I don’t see Him frantically juggling commitments in
search of balance. He doesn’t even
seem to order His life into different
Instead, Jesus lived out a holistic
and radical life of submission, surrender and abandon of all His life
to the will of the Father. He also
lived in constant communion with
Father and Spirit – even in, especially in, the busyness and messiness of His daily life and work.
In calling others to follow Him,
Jesus wasn’t calling them to a life of
balance. Instead He called them to
“deny themselves, take up their cross
daily and follow me” (Luke 9: 23).
Lastly, I don’t see the word balance
as an apt descriptor of great contributors and performers. The word
balance simply doesn’t describe
John the Baptist or the Apostle Paul.
It also doesn’t come to mind when
you try to describe the musical
genius of a Yo-Yo Ma or the mind-
bending vision of an Elon Musk.
By saying goodbye to balance, I’m
not diminishing the importance of
self-care, family and peer relation-
ships, healthy boundaries, saying
no, stewarding physical health, time
management, fun or Sabbath. Each
one is critically important. Each one
needs to be a core priority and part
of a sustainable rhythm in our lives.
In fact, the life of Christ provides
a profound example of each of
these priorities lived out in a regu-
lar rhythm of full engagement in
the responsibilities before Him, a
sensitivity to the Holy Spirit’s re-
direction, and regular periods of
withdrawal to rest and restore.
Instead of a focus on balance,
Jesus incorporated sustainable
rhythms that would provide for and
protect a different kind of life. I
believe it’s this different life for
which we are created. This kind of
holistic and integrated life is far
more realistic and far superior to
the impossible ideal of a perfectly
Instead of balance I am using
new wording and a new paradigm.
I am seeking a Christ-centred life.
This is a life where Christ is central
to all I am and all I do. In a Christ-centred life, Christ is present, interested and desiring to be in the
centre of all we do – especially in
the busyness, intensity, imbalances
and messiness of daily life, work
and relationships. /FT
Jesus incorporated sustainable rhythms
for a different kind of life. This kind of
holistic and integrated life is far more
realistic and far superior to the impossible
ideal of a perfectly balanced life.
Rethinking work-life balance
A more biblical and healthier alternative to balance