Every leader I know wrestles with the balance between work and family. Every Christian leader I know wrestles with work and family in the context of living their life in God. Recently my coach offered a great analogy that has helped me put things in perspective.
Any two legged form of locomotion, skiing, skating, rollerblading, even walking, requires a tension between your right and left leg to go forward. Progress is made only when you push from one leg to the other and back again.
If you walk on one leg only, it’s called hopping. If you try to rollerblade on one leg only you will go a short distance (usually in a circle) and then you will fall down as momentum stops.
Always, there must be the tension between your right leg and your left leg. The same is true between work and family/personal life. There is always a tension between the two. When you are doing work you are not doing family. When you are doing “quality time” with family you are not doing work. So how do we move through life? It is by focusing energy on the work side for a while and then consciously pushing off to the family/personal side for a while and then back.
Too much focus on the work side without transfer causes us to eventually fall down and burnout not only ourselves but our family and friends as well. Too much focus on our family/personal side causes us not to accomplish all that God wants for our lives in the ministry/work domain.
To be effective we must spend a little time figuring out how to move the tension back and forth between domains, explain to our families and co-workers how this works, and then do it. At first, everyone will want you to stand on one leg only. But as they see your effectiveness in both domains blossom, I believe they will be glad to help you with the shifts.
One more kicker, many of us try to do both at the same time. This is a problem. Rather than transitioning back and forth, we try to combine work and family (bringing the email home or doing family things at work). Try this, stand up, try to move forward on both legs at the same time. (You can do it, but it looks funny and uses huge amounts of energy for very little progress) Now, try transferring the energy from one leg to the other (walking). See, it works!