Necessary Endings, Pruning, and the Balanced Life

Are there vital parts of your life and ministry that are out of balance and not getting the best of your time and energy? If so, you may need some pruning. Here are three wake-up questions to ask.

by Henry Cloud

The tempting way to look at balance is the easiest. In this approach you figure out the aspects of life you want to include — God, family, ministry, health, recreation, community, hobbies, growth — and put them in a grid. Then you figure out the time you will give each of them. In my experience in coaching leaders, executing a balanced life is always more difficult than planning one.

Imbalance often comes from two sources. First, you have too much to do. Too many meetings, too many relationships, too many tasks pull in too many directions. Second, and this may be the bigger of the two: a few big problems (usually with a name and social security number) are taking more of your time and energy (or at least more than their fair share) than the rest of the people and projects. Doing too much and doing too much of the wrong thing are two of the biggest culprits to an imbalanced life.

There is an answer; it is a new kind of balancing. It is one I see effective leaders implementing as an ongoing practice — pruning. Here is how it works.

Gardeners know that nothing grows to fruition without pruning. A rosebush will never produce a beautiful rose unless the gardener prunes it. If he does not prune it, the plant will produce many roses, but they will be scattered and formless. Pruning gives roses form and shape.

Further into the pruning strategy is where the big “ahas” are for our lives. A gardener prunes a bud or a branch for three reasons.

Read the rest of this article by obtaining a downloadable PDF of the Winter 2011 issue of Enrichment journal.