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Work-life balance is a myth.

The myth goes something like this: there’s a perfect mixture between “work time” and “home time.” They’re like oil and water so they’ll stay separate yet equal.


This work-life balance dream, as culture promotes it, only works when people are willing to “part-time” parts of their life.

Yet I don’t want to be a part-time dad or a part-time husband. Nor do I want to be a part-time leader.

I want to be fully invested in the things God has called me to be.

There has to be another path.

What if there was something called work-life synthesis, where different and sometimes incongruent parts of our life work in tandem?

Here are three lies about the work-life balance myth and three solutions in a work-life synthesis model.

Work-Life Balance Myth #1: Separate your to-do lists; one for work, one for home.

Synthesis Model: Build your to-do list off of priorities, regardless if it’s home or work.

A friend of mine who coached me along early in my ministry had a system for setting priorities. My wife and I both still use it regularly. He taught me to put things into four categories: important and urgent, important not urgent, urgent not important, and not important not urgent. What if you looked at all the parts of your life and daily categorized things this way? How much would it mean to your spouse if something with the kids fell into the important and urgent category so it got done on a Wednesday at 2pm? Likewise, what would it communicate to your team if you were willing to step up at 8pm on a Thursday when something from work fell into this category? In a synthesis model, leaders seek to identify actual priorities rather than imposed ones, making the greatest impact on the most important areas of life at the right times.

Set your priorities correctly and you won’t feel torn between work and home.

How does this fit in with managing schedules at work and accountability? I submit that when leaders are honest about their priorities, they will be more effective, not less. When staff members are empowered to identify their greatest areas of impact, they will schedule accordingly.

Set your priorities correctly and you won't feel torn between work and home. Click To Tweet

Work-Life Balance Myth #2: I am what I do.

Synthesis Model: I do what I am.

work life balanceThe work-life balance myth thrives on the premise that our identities are defined by our tasks and schedules. Yet we all know this is foolish. I’m not a dad because I change diapers. I change diapers because I’m a dad. When it comes to work we often don’t apply this same logic. Our tasks define us. We don’t define our tasks. Then comes resentment, and the feeling that we are slaves to a regimen rather than realize that we can actually own our schedules. Somewhere along the way we lost this truth. The work-life synthesis model demands that we own our tasks. Tasks flow from our identity, not our identity from our tasks. Own your to-do list; own your schedule. Make it work for you.

Tasks flow from our identity, not our identity from our tasks. Click To Tweet

Work-Life Balance Myth #3: I need to appear like I’m balancing home and work well.

Synthesis Model: I need to be genuinely healthy, regardless of appearances.

Appearances are important. People tithe and invest and volunteer and work hard at your church. No one should think that the leadership of the church is living the high life while everyone else is grinding it out. However, one of the greatest leadership temptations is to work towards a particular appearance of balance while being totally burned out in reality. This is the most damaging aspect of the work-life balance myth. The work of maintaining the illusion of balance is the most exhausting work of all. Instead, be healthy for real. I would guess that if you set your priorities correctly (#1) and own your tasks and schedule (#2), hardly anyone will think you’re taking it easy and not working hard. Someone will. Your genuine health is far more important than “someone’s” opinion of you. If you want to maximize your leadership impact over the long-term, you must pursue genuine health rather than an illusion of balance.

Your genuine health is far more important than someone's opinion of you. Click To Tweet

Can this work-life balance myth just die already? There’s no such thing.

Be 100% you 100% of the time.

Me? I’m a follower of Jesus, a husband, a father, a leader, a writer, and an equipper of other leaders.

I’m all of those things all the time. I’m one person, not six different people. I want to pursue synthesis, not balance. I want to prioritize what really matters in the moment so I can make the biggest impact I can today. I want my tasks to flow from who I am, I don’t want them to define my identity. I want to be healthy, not appear balanced.

Be 100% you 100% of the time. || The Work-Life Balance Myth Click To Tweet

What about you? What does it look like in your life to juggle work and home?