Be Wildly Unbalanced


You Can Do it All.

Countless posters at my gym shout that headline in bold letters next to professional photographs of people doing amazing things.

Success, it seems, can happen in every area of our lives if we just manage to balance everything (and be a member of the right health club).

You Can Do it All.

Except…you can’t. No one can. We can do a lot. But we can’t do it all. It’s a toxic promise based on a faulty premise.  

But the pull remains. We see others excelling at family life, mastering an instrument, coaching their kid’s sports team, and displaying an immaculate lawn. Some sculpt their bodies to perfection in the gym. Others experience great acclaim in the arts.

Maybe we really can have the same results if we just balance our schedule better.

But that’s where we get it wrong. Those known for their breakthroughs didn’t get there through balancing every aspect of their lives. Actually, just the opposite. They spent an abundance of time, energy, patience, persistence, and sacrifice towards what mattered most. In other words, they let many things fall by the wayside to focus more fully on a few essentials.

There’s amazing freedom in dismissing the illusion of a balanced life. Most days we can’t even balance our checkbooks, much less our family, work, finances, health, home, sports, rest, and creativity. It’s an overwhelming, never-ending, no-win game – like trying to keep ten plates spinning simultaneously.

So let’s set the spinning plates down and stop trying to balance it all. Why was balance ever the goal anyway?

Rather than sampling much and mastering little, choose to live completely unbalanced – unapologetically pouring more time, resources and attention into what matters most.

Give top priority to loving God and others well (Matthew 22:37-39). Simply starting there guarantees a wild unpredictability to your days. From there, determine a handful of your non-negotiables. Ideally it will be a single digit number. Adding more waters down your true priorities by making everything (and thus nothing) a priority.

Now pour your heart and soul into those people and pursuits. And give everything else whatever time remains. Yes, that means lesser things will be done less well by design. That means others who choose those things as their top priorities will do them far better than you. Be at peace with that. No one can be the best at everything. So choose your “best” and run after it with all you have.

What about our creativity? I believe God gives us specific talents for a reason. So include those on your short list. But don’t pursue your gifting with more passion than you pursue God and others. Doing so will numb your heart – and ultimately your art.

Perhaps that’s why God tells us to nurture our hearts above all else (Proverbs 4:23). Study your heart as much as your craft. Live an examined life. Know your "now" so well you can paint it with the still wet colors of today. Only then can your art take us on a worthy journey.

We don’t need you exhausted. We need you creative. Rather than try to be the best at a dozen things, give your best to the few things you’re drawn to.

May you be wildly unbalanced as you pursue what matters most with God and with joyful abandon.

© Allen Arnold, 2019

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