Have you ever played that game where two people are balanced on either end of a teeter totter, and one tries to get the other person to fall off by moving back and forth, without, of course, falling off himself? No? Maybe that was a game played in previous generations that’s a little too dangerous for playgrounds now!
Anyway, it seems that nearly everything in life is a balancing act! Trying to find the fine line – the balance point – between two opposed things, or even between two good things, can seem impossible. What makes it even more difficult, and also difficult to give advice on, is that this point of equilibrium can be different for each individual, couple, or family.
Where are we going with this?
- There is no “immunity idol” in missions! People in cross-cultural ministry also struggle to find balance.
- Don’t judge others for their choices, but instead, love them all the more.
- You follow Jesus path for you and let him be responsible to lead others on the path he has laid out for them.
Let’s look at some examples…
Proclamation and Social Justice
In one corner we have proclamation – the gospel, and nothing but the gospel. The real depravity is spiritual so the highest priority MUST be on saving souls from a Christ-less eternity. In the other corner we have social justice – give a cup of water to the thirsty…clothe those who are naked…visit those in prison. If we were to look at the life of Jesus, he spent very little time on the gospel (“repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand”) and a boatload of time caring for the hurting.
“Shouldn’t we be about ‘both/and’?” you ask. Yes, we believe we should, but finding balance is the key… along with not judging… and walking the path Jesus has laid out for us!
Family and Ministry
In this bout we have, in one corner, a “family first” agency – our first ministry is to our family. If we lose our family whatever we gained for the kingdom is in question. In the other corner we have the “kingdom first” agency (you know, Matt 6:33) – we must seek the kingdom first. Anything we put before that, even family, becomes an idol before God (an actual quote from a missionary).
It’s a little harder to find the “both/and” in this example. In reality, most of us slide to one side or the other on this issue and have our verses in order to justify our position. Certainly family cannot be neglected for the sake of ministry (lots of pastors’ and missionaries’ kids can tell you how that looks) and just as certainly, family cannot always trump the needs of ministry. If you are looking to us to give you the formula for the “right” balance, I’m afraid we are going to disappoint you.
Here are some suggestions for this and almost any balance issue:
- Bury it in prayer
- Ask others (more experienced in that area, preferably) for counsel
- Move forward trusting that God will direct you as you make choices
- Realize that past failures do not pre-determine the future
If you do decide to find a playground and try that game we mentioned…you didn’t hear about that here!