As a child, one of my favorite times of year was when the state fair or the circus came to town. One of the attractions, to me, was the number of balancing acts. Since I have a very bad sense of balance myself, I always admired the trapeze artists who could swing through the air with the greatest of ease, the jugglers who could toss plates and what appeared to be bowling pins in the air and they never landed on the ground. Even the elephants could work their way around the ring balancing on a ball. I thought those acts were amazing then and I still do.
Life is like those balancing acts. Most of us have to balance several things throughout a day – a job, family, mealtime, time for exercise, church and community obligations – for some people the balancing act seems endless. Many feel they should multitask many of these things. Although many things can successfully be done together (one of my favorite things is to have my grandchildren help me cook combining family time with mealtime), trying to do more than one thing at once can often be very frustrating. Contrary to popular opinion, multitasking does not necessarily lead to more productivity.
The key to a balanced life is to prioritize. Unless we successfully prioritize those plates we are juggling in the air can all come crashing down on us in extreme stress and diminished health.
Prioritizing means planning – doing the most important things first. Obviously there are times in life when we have to make adjustments. Emergencies do happen. Without planning, though, the events of the day take over and we might not accomplish the things God wanted us to do.
A lot of us are guilty of leaving out the most important thing of all. That is time with God. Martin Luther said, “I have so much to do today that I shall spend the first three hours in prayer.” Billy Graham was asked in an interview, “If you were to do things over again, would you do it differently?” His answer was, “Yes, I would spend more time in meditation and prayer.” Talking about his many speaking engagements, he said, “If I were to do it over again, I would organize it much better.” If Billy Graham looked back on his incredibly productive ministry and made that statement, what about the rest of us?
“Teacher what is the great commandment in the law?” Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’ (Matthew 22:36-39).