Reaching a Higher Standard - Work-Life Balance and Value For Living

Reaching a Higher Standard - Work-Life Balance and Value For Living -  Steve Wickham

It's one thing to reach a high worldly standard; it's another thing entirely to reach an inspiring 'heavenly' standard in your living and relating in this world. The theory is simple. There are three levels. The first dependent level is sin. At the opposite end of the same continuum is the second independent level, an acceptable worldly standard. The third interdependent level is a clean and new heavenly standard -- a criterion that is rarely met. This third level is not on the same plain or continuum as the previous two.
Let's look at work ethic. The dependent (sin) level is laziness. The independent (acceptable worldly standard) is busyness. The interdependent (heavenly) standard is diligence -- just enough work, just enough rest, and just enough play -- the diligent get balance right. They're diligent at getting it right and they try hard until they do, and they continue trying. They do not allow themselves to slip into 'selectively sluggardness.'[1] Bill Hybels suggests that a lot of people get 9 out of 10 right; they expend themselves properly 90 percent of the time, only to neglect a critical area of their lives (the final 10 percent). By virtue of this, they become plainly negligent in that area. We see this often in our Western society in the way the family and familial relationships are mistreated. They're not a high priority for many. Sure, you might work hard, but do you really give your husband, wife, son or daughter the time they need or deserve?
Diligence is a commitment to industry and action, it's responsible and dependable; it's also leadership, discipline, the right intent, order in one's life, tenacity, resolution, and carefulness.
What about speech; what we say? The sin level is clearly slander and its cousins. The worldly standard is double-talk and complaint -- it is entirely acceptable in eighty percent of life to talk good of people one minute and criticise the next, or to sprinkle whinging with joy. Even so-called 'pious' people do it. The heavenly standard however, one which is rarely reached, is that of prudence -- the ability to remain silent and utter words only which lift people up; prudence upholds, and links to, respect. It's articulating words of praise not complaint. The prudent get balance right. They only speak when there's something genuinely good to say. They also reap a blessing of peace (shalom) as a result of not having tenuous relationships to deal with. Instead they are almost universally respected; even by those they seemingly have nothing in common with -- or those whom might be tempted to be envious. Prudence is also about what enters our mouths, as a function of self-control; i.e. what we drink and what we eat, and most appropriately, how much we do of both.
Prudence overlooks insults, is temperate, discreet, and acts out of knowledge. It heeds correction and takes refuge in the sight of danger.
Then there's peace itself. What are the levels of peace? The dependent level is chaos -- a world where chaos reigns and there's an absence of peace. Wars with people are only matched with the inner war that goes on within the self. There is dissonance and then there's escape -- the vehicle is often a substance; a drug. It's all cause-and-effect. That's the sin level. The worldly standard is relative peace, or in real estate terms, 'quiet enjoyment.' One has 'earned the right' to enjoy what one has. It is almost always a material enjoyment. It's a house, car, boat, or "toy" that one derives one's peace and contentment from. It lasts only so long before a yearning for more peace comes. The novelty's worn off.
Enter the heavenly standard; this is peace from within: peace only from faith in God. Here's the trick. You can't experience this peace that transcends human understanding unless you're born again. To become born again you must express what is seen as 'absurd' faith from the worldly standard viewpoint. Peace includes the ability to rest and be still; it is wholeness and harmony, and ultimately a high degree of self-awareness.
You can see thus far how the heavenly standard does not even fit in with the predominant 'sin to worldly-standard' continuum. It sits a whole world above and doesn't even compare.
Balance is the key to it all of course, and that is what I am arguing. Balance is heavenly in an intrinsic sense. It appears to sit smack bang in between the atrophied life and the burned out life, but in reality it's on another continuum entirely as suggested above. Balance is only reached when the motive is pure and the whole life is compartmentalised; here selective sluggardness is entirely corrected -- every area of life is attended to adequately -- and therefore -- perfectly.
The work ethic is "fitted" to each life circumstance and a full effort is expended in each area of life (i.e. compartmentalisation) that does justice to that area i.e. it meets objectives whether they're stated explicitly or implicitly. We know the objectives are being achieved when we look at all our relationships and how well they're going, and to how well we feel within ourselves. Balance is consistently meeting all objectives. I'm demonstrating the intrinsic diligence-balance link here. Balance also applies to prudence, trust, and respect, and ultimately wisdom. (The shalom-balance link has already been partially shown.) Balance is the wise use of time, a protection of accessibility i.e. relative autonomy, and vitality.
Trust is a key resource in life. How does it fit here? The dependent level is about mistrust and lack of trust. It is complete self-reliance. Actually, it may even not trust self. It may rely mistakenly on others. It's certainly pre-disposed to dysfunctional and co-dependent relationships, because mistrust drives the field of vision and this person can't see the wood for the trees. They trust the wrong people for the wrong reasons.
At the second, worldly standard level, trust is situational and it's varied in level of trust shown. It's very much dependent on being earned. The problem with that is we, as human beings, tend to occasionally let down our friends, family, peers, and customers (i.e. all our fellow human beings). What happens to trust when it's dependent on performance alone, and performance standards slip? It's a major compromise and trust is bound to suffer.
At the heavenly standard level trust is implicit in the way a person lives. Trust is issued without 'strings attached' and it doesn't even mind too much if it is not returned. Trust is an investment without a return required; it's given freely. Of course, melding prudence with trust ensures that people don't take advantage for long -- forgiveness happens and wisdom removes the matter of trust being required. It simply doesn't go to the place where it will be taken advantage of. Trust includes faith, grace, courage, honesty, kindness, patience definitely, as well as gratitude, acceptance, detachment, openness, perseverance, and hope. It is a very broad concept at the heavenly standard level, trust.
Respect is next. Trust and respect are so interdependent on one another it is often hard to separate them. For instance, if you respect someone they're likely to trust you. At the dependent sin level there's a lack of respect. I see this every day on the roads with people exceeding the speed limits, cutting one another off etc. Conversely, I also see situational respect (the worldly standard) on the roads when people concede for one another, allowing another car to enter traffic from a side street etc. But it all falls down when the driver who could allow another car in doesn't, instead choosing to 'hurry on.'
Respect at the heavenly interdependent level is about compassion, empathy, tolerance, and social intelligence. It is consideration and fairness, sincerity, honour, and the desire to listen rather to another rather than be heard. It is also personal integrity and humility.
The heavenly standard is the consistently courteous driver. Now this will test every person reading this, including me. And we fail. We fail to meet this heavenly standard in each of the above areas. But, we do strive for it nonetheless.
Wisdom oversees the whole process toward living at a higher ethical "heavenly" standard. The wisdom I speak of is not a worldly standard of wisdom which is just intelligent and savvy living; heavenly wisdom often cuts against the grain of worldly common sense -- it doesn't appear very smart. And it's often not in the short term. It's costlier. But in the longer term it works out for the best. Wisdom confounds foolishness which is that base sin dependent level. We see plenty of folly around us.
Wisdom combines the above Principles of diligence, prudence, shalom, balance, trust, and respect. It 'clothes' all these. It is far more valuable than fine gold or choice silver. It's both beauty and excellence; it's longevity, health, and wellbeing, perspective, and a right curiosity. Wisdom is ultimately truth and vice versa. It is the foundation of life and it is found only in one place: God.

© Copyright 2008, Steven John Wickham. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. [1] See Bill Hybels' book, Making Life Work, Putting God's Wisdom into Action, (Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 1998) p. 36-8. Steve Wickham is a safety and health professional (BSc) and a qualified lay Christian minister (GradDipDiv). His passion in vocation is facilitation and coaching; encouraging people to soar to a higher value of their potential. Steve's key passion is work / life balance and re-creating value for living, and an exploration of the person within us. His highest goal is doing God's will, in enhancing his life, and the lives of others.Article Source: Article Source:

Article Source: