To Keep Life in Balance

In his article ‘How to Overcome Overload’ (Leadership, fall 2002), H. Dale Burke is trying to tell us that we cannot keep our act together unless we learn to balance all the ‘stuff’ of ministry.1 He urges us to re-thinking our life’s priority and makes the fine adjustments needed to keep life in balance.

Burke said that as a pastor we were challenge by ‘overloading problem’ in our ministry. In facts, many stories heard about clergyman who is their families were shattered, because they failed to make a right priority and to makes fine adjustments needed to keep their life in balance. Moreover, Burke warns us about the downside of success. He wrote, “Any leader who experiences the blessing of success will soon feel buried unless he learns how to manage the growing demands on his time and to protect the important from the urgent.

Burke then gave us tips by grouping all activities into four major categories and setting aside time for each one. He called the categories “my four R’s”:
1. Rest time-focusing on my spiritual health, physical health, and marital health. God did design all his creation around the principle of Sabbath rest (Exodus 20:8-10). If we do following this stipulation, we will be healthier and more productive to working for the next days. Take one-day rest, and start the week from it.
2. Results time-focusing on the unique role God has for my personally in advancing his mission. Results time must be dedicate to doing my ‘main thing.’ These priorities may change, but whatever they are at a given time, main things are defined by these three characteristics:
a. The ‘main thing’ is mission critical, essential to the health and growth of the ministry.
b. What we called as the ‘main thing’ is top priority.
c. What we called as the ‘main thing’ is unique abilities.
3. Response time-focusing on administration and follow up with others who need my input. Burke also called this part as ‘time for others’. Response time is defined by two terms: clean up and follow-up. Burke wrote, “If we first set aside blocks of uninterrupted time for rest and results, we can then give ourselves with joy to responding to other people’s stuff.
4. Refocus time-focusing on evaluating what my priorities should be. Burke wrote, “Refocus time is usually not a complete change of direction. It is the opportunity to make the fine adjustments needed to keep life in balance.” Burke then use three types of refocus time to gain new perspective on his life and ministry:
a. Refocus weekly. Refocus time should happen routinely, at the beginning or end of every week.
b. Refocus monthly.
c. Refocus annually. Burke recommend dividing annual retreat into three parts, or perhaps three retreats:
i. Retreat to work on the main things.
ii. Retreat for personal growth and enrichment.
iii. Retreat to refresh your relationship with your spouse.

I am trying now to integrate Burke concept of ‘Time Management’ with Stephen Covey’s ‘Self Management.’2 Covey classified three generations or three waves of time management:
1. First wave/generation. They based in ‘reminders.’ They characterized by simple notes and checklists. They hope that at the end of the day, you have accomplished many of the things that you set out to do and you can check them off your list. If those tasks are not accomplished, you put them on your list for tomorrow.
2. Second wave/generation. Is one of ‘planning and preparation.’ Calendars and appointment books characterize it. This wave reflects an attempt to look ahead, to schedule events and activities in the future.
3. Third wave/generation. The approach is ‘planning, prioritizing, and controlling.’ They spent time clarifying your values and priorities. A wide variety of planners and organizers with detailed forms for daily planning characterize it. In addition, it focuses on setting goals-specific long-, intermediate-, and short-term targets toward which time and energy would be directed in harmony with values. It also includes the concept or daily planning, of making a specific plan to accomplish those goals and activities determined to be of greatest worth.

Covey then introduced the fourth generation that embraces all the strengths of generation 1, 2, and 3, but –according Covey- eliminates the weaknesses and mores beyond. The fourth generation recognized that ‘time management’ is really a misnomer –the challenge is not to manage time, but to manage ourselves. Rather than focusing on things and time, fourth generation expectations focus on preserving and enhancing relationship and on accomplishing results-in short, on maintaining the effectiveness (a balancing between production of desired results and the ability or asset).3

In one of his book, Covey reminds us that what he is talking about is not religion. He is not dealing with issues as salvation or life after death. He writes, “We do believe these are important issues for each individual to address. But these issues are beyond the scope of this book.”4 However, his explanation about ‘self management’ has reminded me to Ephesians 5:14-16, “Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light. See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise. Redeeming the time, because the days are evil” (KJV). From these verses, I learned three principles:
1. Our life is start from God’s Word, who is Christ Himself (God’s Words)
2. God is dealing with His children and told them not to be as fools (Self Management)
3. God then remind us about the significance of times of our living (Time Management).

From these verses, I found that in Christianity there is a principle that we should consider. That principle is not equal with that of Covey’s who writes, “The principles I am referring to are not esoteric, mysterious, or ‘religious’ ideas….It’s almost as if these principles or natural laws are part of the human condition, part of the human consciousness, part of the human conscience.” In addition, those principles were fairness, integrity, honesty, service, quality, encouragement, growth, and such kind of things that Chamberlain calls as “objective morality.”5 Nevertheless, for Christianity the principle is not just objective moralities as that of Covey’s, but rather God’s Words.

That is why from Ephesians 5:14-16 we consider, when Christian starts to talk about Time Management or Self Management they must start from God’s words. D. Dale Burke “4 R’s” shows us this principle. When he wrote about ‘time management’, he starts it from ‘Rest time’; from ‘Sabbath rest’ that God commanded on Sinai. Thus, before the children of God start living creatively from Monday to Friday/Saturday, God has given one special day –a Saturday/Sunday–to enjoying the Words of God; to enjoying a fellowship with the Creator (from whom they can live creatively), and receive power to go through a week after. In a book that talks about ‘work’, Armand Larive uses a good title that reflects this principle: After Sunday….6

(Oleh NT. Prasetyo, S.Sos., untuk memenuhi tugas matakuliah Masalah Kepribadian dalam Pelayanan, yang diampu oleh Dr. Paulus Kurnia, STTRI, 2004)

1 D. Dale Burke, “How to Overcome Overload,” Leadership, fall 2002, 91-95.
2 Stephen R. Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Restoring the Character Ethic (New York: A Fireside, 1990), 150. Covey is an internationally respected leadership authority and teacher, and chairman and founder of the Covey Leadership Center. He is a graduate of Harvard (MBA) and Brigham Young University (Doctorate) At BYU he was a professor of business management and organizational behavior for twenty years.
3 Covey wrote, “Effectiveness lies in the balance-what I call the P/PC balance. P stands for production of desired results, the golden eggs. PC stands for production capability, the ability or asset that produces the golden eggs.” Covey continued, “Basically, there are three kinds of assets: physical, financial, and human.” (Stephen R. Covey, the 7 Habits, 54).
4 Stephen R. Covey, A. Roger Merrill, and Rebecca R. Merrill, First Things First: To Live, to Love, to Learn, to Leave a Legacy (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1994), 53-4.
5 Paul Chamberlain, Can We be Good Without God? A Conversation about Truth, Morality, Culture and a Few Other Things That Matter (Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 1996). 23. In the same book, Chamberlain writes that morality is not limited to religion. Similar with that of Covey’s are not esoteric, mysterious, or “religious” ideas.
6 Armand Larive, After Sunday: A Theology of Work (New York: Continuum. 2004).


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