By Jay Bransford
“Help!” the woman screamed. “Things are falling apart all around me. I just can’t keep up with it all!” The wise sage answered, “I can help. I’ll teach you to juggle.”
We’re all jugglers in training, metaphorically speaking. In our hands we hold numerous juggling balls, each labelled with a specific role, task or responsibility we have. Some of those juggling balls are large, some small. Some are heavy, some light. Each morning we wake up to a new day of tossing those juggling balls of responsibilities into the air, and hoping that none of them get lost or broken before we lay our head back down on our pillow that evening to sleep. Some days we juggle our roles exceptionally well and other days we fail miserably. But if we aren’t careful, we can get into a habit of juggling too much, too often – and letting too many of our important roles and responsibilities drop. And before we know it, we can find that we’ve seriously damaged our relationships, our credibility, and our own health and well-being. Juggling our roles and responsibilities in life is serious stuff!
For your first juggling lesson, the wise sage has 4 questions for you to consider, along with some practical advice…
1. How many balls are you juggling?
Translation: How many roles and responsibilities do you have?
The Sage’s Advice: The average person has many roles in life, and thus many hats to wear. How many of the following roles do you currently hold?
• Ministry Staff/Employee
• Small Group Facilitator
• Church Member
• Child of God*
*As a child of God, we actually have 4 responsibilities (see Luke 2:52). We should be growing in our relationship with God, in wisdom, in our relationships with others, and in our physical health.
2. What is the maximum # of balls you can juggle at once?
Translation: How many roles and responsibilities can you realistically take on?
The Sage’s Advice:
The maximum # of roles you can juggle at once is unique to you, and unique to your situation at the moment. You can’t and shouldn’t compare yourself to others and their capacity levels. Your key roles in life will change over time, and their demand for your time will change, as well. For example, the expectations of you as a father/mother may be much more intense at certain ages of your children’s lives.
3. Do all juggling balls have the same value and importance?
Translation: Are some of your roles and responsibilities more important than others?
The Sage’s Advice:
Not all of your roles are equally as important. You absolutely MUST prioritize. And at times you may need to release yourself from some of your roles in order to focus on what’s most important right now. Look back at your answers from #1 and prioritize your answers. Hint: Hopefully your role as a child of God comes first! That means prioritizing your spiritual, mental, relational, and physical health.
4. How can you pro-actively select the right juggling balls for today or this week?
Translation: How can you schedule your time on a daily and weekly basis, according to your life priorities?
The Sage’s Advice:
Each week, make a habit of looking through your calendar for the week ahead and scheduling in what you have now determined as your priorities in life. When will you spend time with God. When will you exercise? When will you spend quality time with your spouse or children – and how? What are you going to learn this week and when?
The key to “living your priorities” is to first identify your priorities in life. Next, you must constantly re-assess your priorities and pro-actively schedule them into your calendar and thus into your life. Be strong in following through on your scheduled priorities. Don’t cancel that date with your wife, child or friend unless you absolutely have to. Life throws us some curve balls, and we have to be flexible and adjust. But any time you change your schedule in a way that affects your prioritized roles, make sure it is a conscious choice done in prayer, and by first considering your priorities. That is why it’s called “living your priorities”.