Normally, when I read the Bible I am on the lookout for what would make a good blog post or article, but I realized that it left something lacking in my relationship with God. I also didn’t like that I had begun to feel that I was some all-knowing, wise person whose purpose was to tell other people what they needed to do to grow closer to God. So, lately I have been praying that God will reveal to me what I need to understand from my Bible studies. It has been really freeing for me to focus on me when reading and studying instead of trying to think about what I’m going to write about next. The only problem is, I have had a hard time coming up with topics when it is time for a new article. It has been hard for me to find time to both read and study for my personal growth and to read and study for my articles.
I was reading today and I know that God revealed to me that I need balance. Not just balance for Elevate Through Faith, although God knows that I’m struggling, I need balance for my entire life. And as I started to really think about balance I knew that I wasn’t the only one who had trouble prioritizing. Especially with the New Year just rolling in, I’m sure we could all use a bit more balance. Let me give you all a quick peek at a normal day in the life of Shaw. Usually, my day starts between 4:45 AM – 5:15 AM. I leave my house around 7 AM and drop off my three kids in three different locations before heading to work myself. We normally get home around 6 PM, where I cook dinner, help with homework, have a little time to catch up with the kids between showers. Then we say prayers and I put the kids in bed by 9 PM. After the kids are in bed I clean up the kitchen. By this time, I’m exhausted myself but I have not completed any of my other tasks. And honestly, I normally choose sleep over anything else, but that just leads me to feeling overwhelmed and unproductive. I know that if I want to accomplish any of the goals I’ve set for myself, I will have to stay up later than I would like. I’ve never been someone who goes to bed late, so this is always a challenge to me, but I have to find balance. Proverbs 10:4 (NIV) says, “Lazy hands make for poverty, but diligent hands bring wealth”. I do not want God to look at me when I get to heaven and tell me that I was lazy to receive all of the blessings He had in store for me, so I have made the decision to be diligent.
So What Can We Do?
There are some things that I have to change about myself in order to become diligent. I want to share them with you all in case it will be helpful to you as well.
- In order to find balance, you must first prioritize what is most important to you. It’s the concept of “Big Rocks, Little Rocks”. This is a powerful concept that was illustrated in the book First Things First written by Stephen R. Covey, A. Roger Merrill, and Rebecca R. Merrill, in which a speaker was teaching on prioritizing and productivity. The speaker took out a jar and some fist-sized rocks. He placed those rocks into the jar until it was filled to the brim. The speaker then asked the group if the jar was full, and everyone agreed that the jar was full. But instead of stopping there, the speaker poured gravel into the jar. Then he poured in sand, and then water. The point of the lesson is that if the gravel (little rocks), sand, and water were put into the jar first, then the big rocks would have never fit. Think about your life, are you filling it up with the smaller priorities first only to realize that you don’t have the time to complete your larger priorities? If your big rocks are spending time with your family and working on your business project, but you find yourself spending more time at the grocery store, then you may want to try ordering groceries online and picking them up or even having them delivered.
- Being proactive is the second thing you have to do to find balance. Yes, you now know what to prioritize, but most of the time you cannot complete all of your big rocks in the same day. So maybe you take your kids out for ice cream and a movie and at night you work a little on your business project. Because you made quality time with the kids your biggest rock on this day, the next day your biggest rock should be your business plan. Being proactive means recognizing that your big rocks can change day to day based on your needs and not feeling guilty that you cannot do everything every day.
- Give yourself deadlines. If you are anything like me, procrastinating just comes naturally. And honestly, it seems like you work best under pressure. But when setting your own goals, there is no deadline so it’s easy to keep putting your personal projects on the back burner in favor of other activities or even just relaxing. But, this year we want results and if we have to become disciplined, that is just what we will force ourselves to do! So when your write down your goals, write the deadline beside it. Put the deadline on your calendar with periodic reminders that will keep you motivated and on track. Start to think of yourself as your own boss and don’t give yourself any choice but to complete the task.
- Last, but certainly not least, make sure your make time to be in relationship with God. It can be so easy to become so focused on what we are trying to accomplish that we don’t make time for the One who created us. We will need Him throughout everything we do. Remember John 15:5 (NLT) “Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing”.