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The balanced life

When Jesus returned to the house where he was staying, the crowds began to gather again, and soon he and his disciples couldn’t even find time to eat… [Then Jesus said,] “Anyone who does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.” — Mark 3:2035

Vince Lombardi, the legendary coach of the Green Bay Packers, once told his players that they should order their lives by establishing the following priorities:

  1. God
  2. Family
  3. Green Bay Packers

Lombardi’s priorities are often recounted with great approval. It is certainly refreshing to hear of a football coach telling professional athletes to “put God first” and to be concerned for their families, particularly as the professional athlete often shows little regard for his family—and less for his Creator. Likewise, many men struggle to balance all the demands of work, family, and worship. But I do have a problem with Lombardi’s list.

What, I wonder, would have happened if one of the Packers had said to coach Lombardi, “Sorry, coach; I won’t be able to play in the Super Bowl on Sunday. I feel I need to take my family to church. I’m putting God and family ahead of the Packers, like you said!” I suspect that player would not have been a Green Bay Packer for long! Making lists of priorities is commendable, and Lombardi’s list is much better than most, but life does not fit so conveniently into compartments. A neatly balanced life is not easily achieved.

Perhaps the desire itself is misplaced. How “balanced” was the life of Jesus and His disciples? We are told that the crowds demanding their attention were so vast and the needs so great that “he and his disciples couldn’t even find time to eat” (Mark 3:20).

Jesus and His disciples knew the pressure of life. In their case, it was not the pressure to make more money or the pressure to climb to the top of the corporate ladder by sacrificing family and worship on the way. They knew the pressure of being aware of the needs of a crying world and being prepared to address them. This kind of pressure pushes people away from the equilibrium of a neatly balanced life. This kind of pressure leads to missing meals.

Jesus’ own family did not approve of His lifestyle. In fact, “they tried to make him come home with them. ‘He’s out of his mind,’ they said” (3:21). The religious leaders went further and attributed his lifestyle to Satan (3:22). This raises another point. Not only were Jesus and His disciples driven by their world’s need, they also recognized they were in a spiritual battle for the souls of men and women. Fighting this spiritual battle required more than balance—it took everything they had.

Perhaps the desire for a balanced life is not as balanced as it appears. A little divine imbalance may not be wrong!

For further study: Mark 3:20-35

Content taken from The One Year Book of Devotions for Men by Stuart Briscoe. Copyright ©2000. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers. All rights reserved.