Keep Your Balance—How?
AFTER many years as a manager for a large construction company, Kenneth suddenly lost his job. Now he is trying to start his own company, sometimes putting in long hours of work. “It’s been a strain,” he admits, as he seeks to balance his family life and business affairs with congregational responsibilities.
David is trying to cope with a new life-style and a new baby. After years of office work in New York City, he and his little family moved to the country, where he is struggling to learn a trade while serving as a Christian elder and pioneer minister (a full-time Kingdom proclaimer).
Bill has been working for several years to reduce his expenses so that he can pioneer, as his two children already are doing. For several months, however, he has spent most of his time working on the local congregation’s new Kingdom Hall. Now his bills have mounted up again. “It seems like my pioneering keeps receding into the distance,” he says wistfully. “It’s frustrating.”
These men and their families, like Jehovah’s Witnesses everywhere, are fighting to maintain spiritual balance in these “last days” with their “critical times hard to deal with.” (2 Timothy 3:1) Do the problems of these Christians sound familiar?
The apostle Paul warned that in these “last days” people would be “lovers of money, . . . not open to any agreement, . . . betrayers.” (2 Timothy 3:1-4) Christians in the business world can attest to the truthfulness of these words. “I’ve never seen it so bad,” lamented one Witness. “People are unreasonable, you can’t please them, and they won’t pay their bills.” Such conditions make it hard to keep spiritual balance.
Personal discipline is essential if we are to maintain our balance. “Whenever I’m tempted to buy something I don’t need, or take on work I don’t need,” said one Christian businessman, “I stop myself with the reminder to Keep It Simple. . . . Sometimes I have to be blunt with myself, but I’ve been able to get my overhead down, and I’ve avoided large-scale business commitments that may look attractive but would tie me down and make me too dependent on a single customer.”
Success in the business world requires determination and drive. But watch out! No dedicated servant of Jehovah can afford to ignore the pointed warning found at 1 Timothy 6:9, 10: “Those who are determined to be rich fall into temptation and a snare and many senseless and hurtful desires, which plunge men into destruction and ruin. For the love of money is a root of all sorts of injurious things, and by reaching out for this love some have been led astray from the faith and have stabbed themselves all over with many pains.”
It is so easy to let the world’s materialistic thinking gradually change your definition of “success,” until you are no longer satisfied merely to provide for your family. Soon your definition of success can mean being bigger than your chief competitor, or even putting him out of business. Subtly, your good motives can be eroded and, perhaps without realizing it, you can become “determined to be rich.” Then you will have lost your spiritual balance.
“Love of money” can likewise sneak up on unwary Christians. The Bible acknowledges that “money is for a protection,” but it also warns against “the deceptive power of riches.” (Ecclesiastes 7:12; Matthew 13:22) A Christian in business can easily reason, ‘Oh, if only I had a little more money, just as a protection against the uncertainties of today’s business world.’ But money has a way of becoming an end in itself. A larger office must be rented “to attract customers” and new equipment must be purchased “to get a big job.” But as the bills add up, so do the pressures for the unwary one to work more and more, neglecting spiritual things and losing Christian balance.
Of particular concern are certain large business organizations that prey on unsuspecting people, promising them riches for just a few hours of work per week. Some sincere individuals have been led to believe that they would soon be able to make a comfortable living working part time, and that they could “even pioneer,” serving as full-time Kingdom proclaimers. Such business ventures may lead a Christian to try to recruit fellow believers into the sales organization of the company.
Most of these ventures involve sales meetings and assemblies where the “love of money” is cultivated as “successful” salesmen show off their diamond rings and brag about their new cars. Can you imagine the apostle Paul sitting in the audience and cheering such a presentation? Would he be putting pressure on fellow Christians to sell products for him, perhaps improperly encouraging them to do so right in the congregation’s meeting place? (Philippians 3:7-9) Even as materialistic desires are being fed, Christians involved in these organizations may well find that congregational activities are crowded out of their lives. Weekly sales seminars replace congregation meetings; large pep rallies and sales assemblies replace conventions of God’s people, and worldly associates replace spiritually wholesome fellowship. Such drastic loss of spiritual balance has tragic results!
Of course, materialism is not the only obstacle to maintaining spiritual balance. Much could be said about the problems caused by unbalanced attention to hobbies and entertainment, as well as the potentially unbalancing effect on Christians of the world’s sex madness. Amid the many challenges of life today, how can the Christian maintain his spiritual equilibrium?
It is useful to compare spiritual and physical balance. Babies cannot balance themselves, and dizziness often accompanies illness. Likewise, people who are either spiritually immature or spiritually sick lack spiritual balance. Even a healthy, mature person can lose his balance on dangerous, slippery terrain. Accordingly, a spiritually healthy, mature Christian must continually avoid “dangerous ground,” not taking his spiritual balance for granted.
Furthermore, those who have tried to balance a bicycle that is standing still appreciate the importance of forward momentum in maintaining balance. This point is vital because in recent years some have misused or misunderstood the expression “spiritual balance.” “Do not spend so much time in the field ministry,” they have said. “Spend more time at home with your family. Be balanced!” Following such improper advice has slowed the forward momentum of some and has hurt them spiritually, causing them to fall prey to self-indulgence.—2 Peter 2:3; 3:11, 12.
Certainly, Christian balance does not mean putting down the torture stake of Jesus Christ! (Luke 9:23-25) Such an unfaithful course would really amount to stumbling over him, which would be anything but balanced.—Matthew 11:6.
The kind of balance needed by servants of Jehovah God is discussed in the book of Proverbs, where we read: “Wisdom is the prime thing. Acquire wisdom; and with all that you acquire, acquire understanding. When you walk, your pace will not be cramped; and if you run, you will not stumble. Take hold on discipline; do not let go. Safeguard it, for it itself is your life.”—Proverbs 4:7, 12, 13.
Wisdom, understanding and self-discipline are key elements in maintaining spiritual balance. They are acquired by regular and careful study of God’s Word and by application of the things learned. “Jehovah himself gives wisdom,” says an inspired proverb. “Out of his mouth there are knowledge and discernment. And for the upright ones he will treasure up practical wisdom; for those walking in integrity he is a shield.”—Proverbs 2:6, 7.
Wisdom involves the practical application of knowledge. Most Christians who lose their spiritual balance do so because they fail to apply what they know about the dangers of materialism or self-indulgence, or even self-righteousness. (Proverbs 3:5-7) It is especially wise to work on applying what you know about your own weaknesses in order to head off spiritual trouble. “I have to work extra hard on balance,” admits one elder, “because I know that I have a one-track mind and something of an extremist personality. It is very easy for me to get totally involved, first in one thing, then in another, while neglecting my other responsibilities.”
A priceless balancing influence for all Christians is provided by our spiritual brothers and sisters. Often they can discern when we are drifting off course spiritually before we realize it ourselves. How important it is humbly to accept counsel at such times! Sadly, the converse is also true: “One isolating himself will seek his own selfish longing; against all practical wisdom he will break forth.” (Proverbs 18:1) So avoid isolation from fellow believers and readily respond to sound Scriptural counsel.
Maintain Your Spiritual Balance
Here, then, are some keys to maintaining spiritual balance. (1) Stay spiritually healthy, cultivating wisdom, understanding and self-control. (2) Avoid dangerous spiritual terrain, such as the subtle trap of materialism. (3) Know and work on your own weak or unbalanced areas. (4) Do not slack off in the field ministry, but keep up your forward momentum in Jehovah’s service. (5) Humbly accept counsel from God’s organization and those whom it is using. (6) Do not isolate yourself from the Christian congregation.
It may seem difficult to maintain good spiritual balance in these critical times, but do not quit trying. As Jehovah’s Witnesses, we are to be imitators of a God whose superb and holy qualities are in perfect balance. (Ephesians 5:1; Revelation 4:8) As long as sincere love for Jehovah God motivates us to go on imitating him, and as long as we accept the help we need from fellow believers and Jehovah’s organization, we can keep our spiritual balance.
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The Kingdom Hall is not intended for commercial activities
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Maintaining spiritual balance also requires forward movement