Keeping Your Balance4 min read

Nearly one in five church-goers read the Bible daily, according to LifeWay Research (Facts & Trends, March/April 2015). More than half (59%) read the Bible at least once a week. Of these, 19% read the Bible daily; 26% read a few times a week; 14% read once a week. An additional 22% read the Bible once a month.

Where do you fit in?

One of the principles we use in our trainings is the “Balance Principle.” It states that the church planter’s spiritual life, family life, and ministry life must be in biblical balance. As the business and busyness of church life kicks in this season, it’s healthy for planters, pastors, and mission leaders to take inventory of their personal balance.

How do you do it all without burning out?

It’s easy to neglect marriage and family while spending more time at work. The temptation is to skimp on personal devotional time to get a jump on the day’s activity. That’s where the “Balance Principle” calls you back. It’s not so much about accomplishing many things, Martha. It’s about the one thing needful (See Luke 10:38-42). It’s really a question of being rather than doing. Being present with family and spouse; being present with the Lord in His Word; being open to the Holy Spirit’s direction through His Word. Taking care of business is not bad – in fact it’s a necessary part of planting and church life – but the word to remember is “balance.”

I have always been amazed at Jesus’ schedule. He spent time teaching and discipling the Twelve and the Seventy-two. He took time for the crowds, teaching, feeding, healing, while also attending to the needs of one person at a time, one person after another. And yet in the busyness, he spent prime time daily with His Father. And in three years, he fully accomplished the work he was sent to do.

How can we accomplish our work without getting burned out? Here are six essential practices:

  1. Seek balance. Think strategically. You don’t have to do everything. In fact, you can’t do everything; only God can do all things. Sort out the important from the not-so-important, the urgent from the non-urgent. Review them with your spouse, elders or accountability partner. Learn to say “no” so that you can say “yes” to being with the Lord, His Word, and sharing His blessings with those who are your primary responsibility—your family.
  1. Join the 19%. Spend time with Jesus. Read His Word daily. Not in preparation for sermons and Bible studies and other professional responsibilities, but for yourself. Listen. Meditate. Keep your notebook handy to record insights from the Holy Spirit. Don’t rush. Enjoy daily time with the Lord.
  1. Be who you are. Daily recall your baptism, through which God made you His beloved child. Consider what that means for who you are and how you see your place in the world. Join with your brothers and sisters who gather for worship. If you are the leader, don’t merely do the work professionally; rather receive the gifts God offers to you, His child, through His Word and sacraments. Stop to marvel and give thanks for these gifts.
  1. Pray. The work of church planting is hard. It places you in the front lines of spiritual warfare. Jesus taught us to pray, “Deliver us from the Evil One.” The Evil One desires nothing more than to see you burn out, your marriage flame out, your family walk out. Daily prayer includes recognition that you are fully dependent on the Lord and His strength, and that your efforts will come to nothing apart from His help and blessing.
  1. Recruit and equip others. You are not called to do this alone. The risen and ascended Lord Jesus has gifted His church with all that’s necessary to reach spiritual maturity and health (Ephesians 4:7-13). Identify those with needed gifts; then train, equip, and turn them loose to serve. Give them the responsibility and the authority to get the job done.
  1. Physical exercise and play. Someone once said, “Don’t call it a work-out, call it a play-out.” Carve out 30-45 minutes at least three days each week to exercise and play. Do something you enjoy to keep your temple of the Holy Spirit healthy and fit.

It all starts up again this January – the programs, the busy days, the late nights, the marathon of “doing church.” The only way to thrive in the midst of the busyness is to take time for spiritual business.

Resources You Can Use

Daily Bible reading plans are available for download. Google and use one that works for you. I use Concordia Publishing House’s Today’s Light Bible, which takes me through the entire Bible over a two-year period. Each day’s reading also includes devotional thoughts.

Eugene Peterson’s Praying with the Psalms — A year of daily prayers and reflections on the words of David.

Eugene Peterson’s Praying with Jesus — A year of daily prayers and reflections on the words and actions of Jesus, as found in the gospels of Matthew and John.

Most health insurance companies include some health incentives. Check yours online. Concordia Health Plans offers a rewards system under the Be Well… Serve Well program.

God Wrote a Book is an excellent, short video from Desiring God Ministries which helps viewers to appreciate the wonder of God’s written Word, the Bible.

Photo courtesy of Elisa Schulz Photography

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About the Author

Rev. Dr. Peter Meier the Executive Director for the Center for US Missions. You may contact him at

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