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Parenting Rx

Leading a Balanced Family Life
by Sylvia Cochran

The world is unbalanced. Commercials equate happiness with the latest product, prescription drug, or possession. The workplace suggests that happiness is found in the promotions and gold stars at the end of numerous 80 hour workweeks. Your family may have its own take on what happiness really is. Fortunately, God also has a few thoughts on happiness and the balanced life it requires.

In simplest terms, Christian balance is a mix of mental and emotional stability. A balanced life includes Christ in the center of the mix, with all other aspects taking their clues from Him. This stands in contrast to the notion of career success, money, status, or possessions being at the center of life. As a result, the Christian parent may have to struggle significantly to keep the whole family balanced, especially if each member is in a different spot with respect to personal balance and value system. By way of a reality check and some suggestions, here is a Q&A for the Christian parent intent on leading a balanced life.

Q: Is my life out of whack or in balance?

A: If you think of your life as a washing machine, is it humming along nicely, or does it appear to be out of balance? If you - or other family members - are shirking some responsibilities, leave things undone and overall play catch-up more often than boldly advancing in life, you are out of balance. This is expressed in the forgotten homework, the take-out dinner cartons piling up in the fridge, the late payment fees on the bills, and the dust gathering on the Bible.

Q: How do I regain balance in my daily life?

A: Proverbs 30:7-9 is the perfect prayer request. The writer asks God for sufficient bread to live on, not so little as to become obsessed with want, but also not so much as to become prideful and feel self satisfied. It may be time to either shrink your life down to size, or figure out a way to bring it up to par. For example, if you have been blessed with worldly riches, you may need to scale back your lifestyle so that it does not become a chore in itself just to maintain the status quo. Conversely, if you are living hand to mouth, it is time to kick your career in gear and earn a living that is sufficient to cover your bills and put food on the table. Seek godly advice - in either situation - how this may be accomplished in your case.

Q: Does my spirituality support a balanced life?

A: At face value this appears an odd question, until you realize that a good many Christians are caught up in "religious" living rather than religion. If your faith lacks the power to restrain your sin (in other words, if you fall into temptation in spite of your professed faith), you may be religious but you are not faithful. Examine your spiritual life and if you find that you have become a part of a convenient church rather than one that boldly proclaims the gospel of Christ - which will demand that you change - you will be wise to heed the warning. Conversely, if you are a member of a vibrant church but you have merely conformed to the congregation's expectations of you, as opposed to God's expectations, you have to do some soul searching and find out why your faith has literally become lukewarm or even cold. Once again, godly advice is paramount.

Q: Which area of my life should I tackle first?

A: Interestingly, they are all interrelated and may be tackled concurrently.

1. Begin with your spirituality. Commit to a daily personal relationship with God, read your Bible and pray.

2. Connect with your family on a spiritual basis. Pray together with your spouse. Pray together with your children. Do this daily. Read the Bible with them weekly.

3. Bring your health in balance. If you are working yourself to death, or if you have neglected your health in any way, go after it and fix it. Take the vacation time that is owed to you, get your teeth fixed, get a physical, and encourage your family members to do the same.

4. Balance your work. Make God your priority and work enough to feed your family, but not so much that it will take you away from them. If you have a high demand job that will not give you an inch, start getting your resume out and find another one. Remember, the job is supposed to be a means to and end (money), not an end unto itself.

5. Control your finances. Become a generous steward of your funds who pays bills on time and has a little left over to help out others. Save wisely for retirement and for your children's needs, but do not get caught up in amassing wealth for its own sake. You may have to get professional advice if you are drowning in debt or cannot pay your mortgage. There are plenty of programs open to consumers who cannot make ends meet. Commit to one of them today and get control of your finances.

6. Complete the balancing act by incorporating personal growth in your daily endeavor. Find out what gifts God has given you and hone them. Next, use them. Help your family members to do likewise.

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