A few years ago, a young man asked Elder David A. Bednar about finding balance at home and work, and in church callings. Elder Bednar’s response: “You can’t. So don’t worry about it.”
Elder Bednar went on to state that finding balance is a false notion. You can only do one thing at one time.
He compared balancing these responsibilities to Chinese acrobats who spin plates. The plates are all spinning at the same time, but not at the same speed. The acrobat decides which plate needs his attention at that moment otherwise it’ll fall. We live in an amazing time with so many wonderful opportunities and blessings. But with those blessings, comes different responsibilities.
We often feel like we have to:
- Maintain a fulfilling and lucrative career
- Have a happy, perfect family
- Go above and beyond in our callings
- Live an interesting life that is worthy of social media posts.
With so many different responsibilities, it can be hard to know what needs our attention the most. We often feel like we’re spinning so many plates, that they’re all about to come crashing down at once. This will happen about the same time as we all have our mental breakdowns, I’m sure.
Like the acrobats, we can only balance a few plates at a time. Don’t try to balance seventeen plates when you’re better off with ten.
There’s an optimum number of plates that each of us can spin. It’s probably the case that you cannot spin 17 plates. So, with the help of the Holy Ghost, we can identify the two, three, four most important plates that always need to be spinning. – David A. Bednar
Finding balance at home, work, and church
So, how do you know what needs your attention now and what you can let spin on its own for a bit? Let’s focus on these three key plates you’re likely spinning.
This is the plate that gets pushed aside the most, yet it needs the most attention. It can be easy to get swept up in your career or fulfilling your calling. But don’t forget to take time for your family and loved ones.
Healthy relationships can keep you going through tough times. Sometimes you may find that your family needs your full attention. It’s ok to drop the other plates to ensure your family knows you’re there for them when they need you most.
It can be easy to get swept up in keeping this plate going and forget about the others. Focusing on work often yields pay raises, bonuses, promotions, and recognition. It’s easier to see the immediate rewards via work than home or church callings. Yet, when you focus too much on this plate, the other plates will drop.
You need to consistently build relationships with family and strengthen your testimony. By spinning these other two plates along with your work plate, you’re supporting your “why.” Why do you work hard in your career? So you can enjoy time with family and build the kingdom of God.
This may be the hardest plate of all. Church callings are no joke. They can take a lot of your time and energy with sometimes little reward. The hardest thing is to put your whole heart into an activity or lesson and have no one appreciate it. But the true reward is in serving others and the Lord.
Our leaders have asked us to serve one another through church callings and to help build the kingdom of God. Yet, sometimes we can go a little overboard on perfecting our callings. Remember to keep in mind what the point of each activity is and how it will help build Heavenly Father’s kingdom.
Sometimes you might find that your calling is taking away too much time from family or work. If that’s the case, it’s OK to ask the bishop for a less time-consuming calling. It is OK.
Many young people are diverted from what is essential because they say yes to so many things that are nice, but not necessary. When you say no to something that is nice but not necessary, ultimately you are saying yes to something that is essential. – David A. Bednar
We can get so caught up in the trivial matters, that we forget about what’s important. You need to decide if the plates you’re spinning are helping you become a better person or if they’re just busy work. You’re in charge of your life and how you choose to keep it balanced.
Focus the best that you can on those things in life that will lead you back to the presence of God – keeping all things in their proper balance. – M. Russell Ballard
What things have you found that are helpful in finding balance in your daily life?