(photo by Pulpolux !!!)
I was talking with one of the staff here at Redwood about being in vocational ministry and the tension between work and home. He said something that got me thinking. He said, “I like to think of it in terms of equilibrium rather than balance. Equilibrium is just more dynamic.”
- “occurs when two opposing processes proceed at the same rate. A reversible chemical reaction will be at dynamic equilibrium when the rate of forward reaction is equal to the rate of the reverse reaction. Whilst at dynamic equilibrium there is no change in the concentration of either the forward or reverse reactions. The word “dynamic” indicates that at equilibrium both the forward and reverse chemical reactions still occur rather than the reaction halting once equilibrium is reached.”
In other words, equilibrium doesn’t mean things get balanced and then nothing changes. In equilibrium stuff is always moving back and forth. The key, though, is that the net effect over a long period of time is zero. One side of the equation doesn’t end up being heavier than the other.
I think that if we approach work and home that way when it comes to vocational ministry, it allows us the freedom to define how much we spend at work and how much we spend at home in terms of what our values and priorities are rather than in number of hours from week to week. Personally, my values are that home life will win over work life in the end. That then allows me to work more hours at work when certain situations require that of me because I will take advantage of those times when work isn’t as demanding to spend more time at home so that net effect in the end is that home does win over work.
This then becomes a good guage of if you are spending too much time at work (or at home). If the equilibrium that you have set up for yourself becomes out of whack over a period of time, then you know you have to adjust one side of the equation or make a radical change.
How do you deal with the demands of work and home when in vocational ministry?