The Balanced Life Philosophy:What is a Balanced Life?
It was way back in the last century, around 1970, that I first heard of the Balanced Life Philosophy. I was a Campus Life, Youth for Christ club member, and my director, a brother named Rich Hanson, shared this concept, rooted in Luke 2:52
“And Jesus grew in wisdom and knowledge, and in favor with God and man.”
I hope it is safe to assume that anyone you may coach will understand that Jesus was fully human and fully divine. As a human, he had to grow, as do we; thus, Jesus grew physically, mentally, socially or relationally and spiritually. All four areas are important. If Jesus had to grow, how much more do we?
It has been my observation over this past 40 plus years that a life out of balance is a life filled with difficulty and often regret, and most coaching will revolve around helping someone find health and fresh balance in one or more of these areas of life. Of course, people in general need balance and health, and leaders in family and church need it perhaps most of all.
Breaking life down into categories can help you identify a balance of goals and dreams in all areas, and minimize the tendency to forget something important. Asking questions is what coaches and mentors do, and asking key questions regarding these areas of importance can provide great insight into the person being coached. Thus, questions need to be asked in the areas of:
- Physical: When coaching, a person’s overall health should be considered. Many psychological problems and spiritual issues can be traced to inadequate health; some caused by physical diseases such as diabetes, or severe anxiety or psychosomatic disorders, stress unmanaged can rob a person of their ability to function fully. In Western culture, appearance can make a difference in one’s perceived ability and overall success, but especially appearance or lack thereof of health and vitality. Thus, be willing to ask questions related to physical health of a client, and be willing to make suggestions to better the client’s health. The coach should not shy away from asking questions and making observations in the areas of health and recreation, to include hobbies, sports, fitness, diet, health care, sleep, Sabbath, vacations – the things that take care of you, physical health should not be ignored in the coaching process.
- Mentally: A client’s mental growth goes beyond academic achievement or simple IQ. The ability to learn, adapt, communicate, evaluate and discern is essential for personal and professional growth, as is one’s ability to gain insight, necessary to make effective change towards one’s goals. Evaluation of a client’s intellectual capabilities, education, and ability to apply knowledge to real world problems (Wisdom) must be done to avoid making false promises regarding the potential of the person you are coaching, leading to false hope. Desire and faith must be measured against human limits and reality. Though I may want and believe I can be a National Basketball star, at my age and being only 5”10” it is not likely to happen. Of course, we all have limitations, and limitations can be overcome… sometimes through hard work, additional study, more education, etc. All these things a coach will discuss with his or her coachee as a part of developing a plan of action.
- Socially/Relationally: It is rare, but at times I will meet a potential client whose personality, demeanor, manner or lack thereof and general social ineptitude make me want to start heavy drinking! This will not in and of itself close a door to helping them, if the person is aware of their deficits. But when someone, quite possibly well qualified, lacks social graces or is at least a semblance of emotional intelligence, it is hard to work with them. I don’t care how much a person may make or what doors might open if I work with them, narcissistic people are not worth the time or energy. Of course, Jesus was able to help the seemingly helpless, as should any true follower of Jesus. Jesus was a friend of sinners…those who frequently missed the mark in life, or who were not reaching healthy goals. In fact, all his disciples had flaws, but he worked with them anyway. As a coach, we must be friendly; warm, empathic and kind, as does a coachee, or at least we hope they will grow in that direction. Relationships with friends and neighbors, plus your community service: PTA, politics, volunteering, boards, service projects, etc., along with one’s family –our spouse, children and extended family relationships are all important in developing a healthy, balanced life.
- Spiritually: In my book, Journey to Wholeness I identify three stages of spiritual growth, as presented by John the Apostle; children, young men and fathers. Without going into details on this teaching (hint, buy the book) all believers in Christ are on a spiritual journey, with needs to be fulfilled and tasks to complete. Spiritual growth, though innate (Christ in us; the Holy Spirit working in us), and progressive, can be thwarted by overt and un-repented sin, lack of knowledge, poor spiritual disciplines, or insufficient biblical value integration. A coach should neither neglect nor over emphasize the importance of spiritual growth, remembering that balance is a key to success in life and God’s Kingdom.
More will be said on how to integrate these heart concepts with the coaching process, in my book, but for now, remember that balance is key, and a necessary ingredient to the abundant life Jesus promised us (John 10:10). Further, in the questionnaire used to evaluate clients are key questions to ask to find out the balance of the person you are coaching.
Finding balance and health in life is critical and a core focus in Christian Life coaching.
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