One can’t throw a rock without hitting a consultant encouraging leaders to segment their lives by building walls. “You have to learn the art of separating job from family”…and on and on goes the advice. If you sit and think about that type of advice it seems logical. It is obviously well received because nearly every busy CEO and Entrepreneur is attempting to do just that. They think it wise to carve up the day assigning hours and sometimes even minutes into neatly prepared time slots called “quality time”. Even if they aren’t so organized they can be found in single thread fashion either working, playing, resting, worshiping etc… They are found desperately running from time slot to time slot attempting to “balance” their day.
I bought into this idea and for years I ran my legs off from time slot to time slot “keeping everyone happy by giving them their allotted quality time.” Guess what…IT DOESN’T WORK, EVER! And it never will. According to the Word of God, life wasn’t ever meant to be divided. Here’s my main defense from Scripture…
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
(James 1:5-8 ESV)
Now before I begin I want to make clear that I am not talking about an executive taking their toddler daily into the boardroom and changing poopy diapers during the morning meeting. I am talking about a way of life that goes way beyond the physical but has the most profound impact on the physical. So don’t get hung up on the “how do I get work done with my family right by my side (physically) every moment of the day” type thinking.
It is good to live in wisdom. There is one source of wisdom: God. The passage in James is all about wisdom. Notice James introduces the passage by saying, “If anyone lacks wisdom let him ask God who gives generously…” (verse 5) James is talking to Christian brothers in this passage.
Now, let me begin by asking the question, “What normally happens when we segment life?” This is what happened to me and what happens to most I talk to about their experience; I build a career box, a wife box, a kids box, a family time box, a church box, a ‘my time’ box, a vacation box, and yes a “God” box. Then I spend all of my time desperately running from box to box pouring in quality time. Each time I arrive at a box I immediately start thinking about the next box to visit and feel guilty that I am not spending more time in my boxes. Worst of all, I spent a great deal of effort making sure that no one escaped their box. It just wouldn’t do to have the wife escape from her box and go roaming around in my career box. That would mess up my whole system. My main point is, when you segment life like this you start playing God instead of seeking and asking God.
There is only one box and everything is in it and God owns it. There are five main patriarchs in the Old Testament; Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, and Job. Of course, there are more than five patriarchs. All of Jacob’s sons are patriarchs and others to boot, but the story focuses mostly on these five. As I study these five, I don’t see any evidence that they ever segmented life. All of the stories flow with this simple theme: When they looked for the wisdom of God they received it and life was good. When they played God, life was broken.
Again, my main point…No one can segment life and not play God. No one has the ability to wield that kind of power. Besides, every family is unique. And to make life even more complex, every day inside every family is unique. There is no way to keep everyone in their proper box every moment of every day. It just doesn’t work. So my suggestion to you is stop trying.
The person desperately running from box to box lacks wisdom. And they show that there is doubt about God’s ability to make life what it should be. James calls this person a double-minded man. This rare expression was possibly coined by James. It suggests a man who has two souls; he is as unstable as a person with a split personality. You aren’t multiple people. You aren’t a husband, father, employee/employer, preacher, friend, and neighbor. You are simply, YOU! There is one box, GOD! Listen to the psalmist:
I hate the double-minded, but I love your law.
The poet is of a single mind; he loves God and His law. Consequently, he is stable, unlike the double-minded man. It seems to me that the Bible teaches that a wise person doesn’t try to segment life but spends all their time seeking wisdom; in other words, seeking God.
Is life really as simple as praying…”Lord make my wife, kids, boss, employees, friends and neighbors abundantly satisfied as I seek hard after YOU”…? Well, Yes! Hey, I think I’ll pray that prayer today.