Faith and Family Business: Balance and Single-Hearted Devotion

By Bill Long on August 30, 2017

Do a Google search on “work-life balance” and more than 93,000,000 results come up. The Wikipedia article on “work-life balance” is longer than the biography of many Nobel Prize winners. Surely, we think, this must be a concept of stratospheric significance.

And I don’t deny its centrality as a guiding principle for people at any stage of life. Learning to care for family, yourself, your employment, your finances, your spiritual life, and your citizenship obligations at the same time can be daunting even to the calmest and well-adjusted person. Yet, even while embracing the notion of balance among competing forces in life (or the idea of not being able to have it “all at once” that Davon described well), I feel I need to “balance” this idea with one that stares me straight in the face if I want to be a person of faith: that of total or single-hearted commitment to God.

The most famous line of Judaism, captured in the Ten Commandments and Jesus’ words, is “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might” (Deut 6:5). This line doesn’t preclude multiple responsibilities in life, of course, but it does make me hesitant to run quickly for the shelter of the idea of “balance” when I am thinking about my faith. Before doing that, I pray this little prayer every day, and maybe more than once a day, “God, what does it mean for me to be a person of focused devotion to you? You know all the commitments I have, but you also say that my heart’s true home and focus should be on loving you. How can I do that and be faithful to all the demands on me? How can I keep a balanced life but not a divided heart?”

As is often said, “If the answer were easy, there would be no problem.” But somehow, I believe the
answer to the “balance” question may become clearer to us once we focus on the “sole devotion”
question. Make your prayer one for wholehearted commitment to God—and then see how the “balance thing” works itself out.