This is part 2 of a little series I’m doing on the word balance. I said I don’t have a very good short definition of balance, but that there are three components that are a big part of balance. I want to look at the first of these today. This component is understanding our strengths and weaknesses.
When it comes to the idea of balance, I think it is easy to assume that balance means that we all look pretty much the same at the end. This could be part of what gives rise to the balance as perfection idea. If balance is this fixed goal that doesn’t vary between people, then we run into some issues. It’s no wonder people want to toss the idea of balance to the curb. I mean think about these questions: What does this perfect balance that we’re all supposed to attain look like? Who decides? Does one person’s idea of perfect balance equal another person’s idea? With people as varied and diverse as there are in the world do we really think it is even possible to have one final picture of balance for everyone?
I know that there are those out there who think that their way is the only way. They may even try to claim that it is God’s way. I’m not convinced, while I do think that if you associate with following Christ there will be overlap and commonalities in our balance, we’re never going to look exactly alike in our thoughts, passions, pursuits, strengths, and weaknesses. I think taking this into consideration is a large part of thinking about balance. We have to find a way to be balanced even while recognizing that we may come into the picture with certain ways of looking at life, certain strengths, and certain weaknesses.
Part of the difficulty in laying this out though, is that I think balance looks a little bit different depending on what we’re trying to accomplish. Some of these aspects are easier to view as perfection than others. Like so many things it’s a bit more complicated if you really start peeling back layers.
Take something like personality traits. Perfectly balancing something like those would be more difficult, unless your personality lends itself to being balanced in the first place. Let’s use the example of extrovert and introvert. In the Myers-brigs tests that I’ve taken recently I tend to be rather balanced on this area with a very very slight lean towards introversion like 1% was given on the most recent test I took a few weeks ago. My wife on the other hand is extremely introverted. Just not having time to herself even from the kids or me can lead her to be very drained. I think these aspects are very hard to change, and that balance isn’t so much changing yourself, but understanding your limits and maybe trying to push them every so often.
For the introvert it may mean being willing to put yourself in social situations more than you would be inclined to. For the extrovert it may be to take time for self-reflection and spending time alone. For one who tends to be in the middle perhaps it means to include both and not neglect one side in favor of the other. The struggle here though is that each person is going to look a bit different even if they are trying to seek their own balance. The extreme introvert and extrovert will have different sets of challenges and may never be very comfortable doing what goes against their personality. I think as you go to more moderate and negligible degrees of introversion and extroversion the challenges again shift depending, but that at the end nobody will look quite the same but can still achieve a personal balance.
This may be true of a number of strengths and weaknesses that may be connected to our personality. We may tend to be organized or disorganized; logical or emotional; analytical or creative. All of these have their strengths and weaknesses, and we may be able to take steps to balance ourselves out. Even though one side might come a little more naturally, I think that if we understand strengths and weaknesses of these positions at least for us it can help us develop, at least a little bit of, the trait that we may be lacking.
There is an aspect to this understanding of our personal strengths and weaknesses that is helpful internally, but also externally. If we’re able to identify our own strengths and weaknesses, we may be able to adjust ourselves even a little to minimizing those weaknesses, or if not that, at least acknowledge where we are weak at. However, it also helps us externally, because if we understand our traits as having strengths and weaknesses we may just be able to view other people as having traits that are both positive and negative in nature. As such being an introvert isn’t a bad thing, it just has it’s own set of strengths and weaknesses. Being an extrovert isn’t wrong either, but again just has it’s own array of challenges and rewards.
If we’re able to understand the strengths and weaknesses of who we are and who those around us are, we can take balance beyond just a personal ethic, to a community ethic of a group that is able to overcome weaknesses because they are full of people who have different personalities, gifting, and interests. This can allow for a group to function in ways that one individual cannot. I believe it is this kind of idea that is presented in 1 Corinthians 12:12-27:
Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ.For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.
Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body.If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be?But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body.
The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!”On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable,and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it,so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other.If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.
Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.
It is this picture of the body of Christ that comes to mind as I think about this external balance. A balance that understands our own place in a bigger picture, that appreciates those who are different than us, and also understands the limitations of our own abilities. We can’t all be eyes, hands, or feet, but that we are needed, and that just because someone isn’t the same as us doesn’t mean they are less needed either.
So this is a just a sketch of how knowing our strengths and weaknesses relates to balance for me. I’ll admit this post was hard for me to get out and took a bit longer than I anticipated. This is by no means an exhaustive post, but I hope it gives enough that you get what I’m trying to get at. The next component that I’ll be looking at is how tension is involved with my view of balance.
So what do you think? Does what I said makes sense? Do you have any push back? Feel free to leave comments below.