BALANCE & How to Balance Ministry & Personal Life by @BobWhitesel published by @BiblicalLeader Magazine. #JohnWesley #EnthusiastBook


feelings for Sophy, she made clear her intention was to remain single. However, she was engaged to a reportedly mean and violent man. When John asked Sophy about this, she replied, “I am every way unhappy. I won’t have Tommy, for he is a bad man. And I can have none else.” Facing such a marital and spiritual predicament, Sophy asked John to tutor her in spirituality. An affectionate relationship began to take shape.

John fell in love with Sophy, writing in his journal how he was charmed by “her words, her eyes, her air, her every motion and gesture.” But such emotions seemed to draw him away from his singular fixation on ministry. He felt his affection for Sophy was dividing his attention for ministry, and, in addition, she was betrothed to another. Thus began John’s struggle. John sketched out reasons not to marry Sophy: (a) she was already engaged, (b) he was absorbed in a demanding ministry to Native Americans, and (c) she had declared her desire never to marry but to serve Christ alone. John’s methodological mind devised rules, resolutions, and reasons that built a wall between him and the woman he loved. 

John told Sophy that he had decided not to make any decision until he had established a ministry to the Native Americans. Her response was cool, to say the least. Shortly after, she ended the tutoring. Then Sophy informed John that she had consented to a marriage proposal from a ham-fisted and irreligious Mr. Williamson, “unless you [John] have anything to object.” John wrote in his journal, “to see her no more, that thought was as the piercings of a sword.” But he felt he must choose ministry over marriage. 

Since his first encounter with Sophy, when she nursed him back to health, John sensed that her spirituality and tenderness were part of the support he needed to pursue ministry in the New World. Yet by seeing these two relationships as competitive rather than complementary, Wesley made a ministry error common among young leaders. Focusing solely on the needs of others precluded him from seeing his need for a supportive soul mate. 

Lesson One 

Ministry and family are not competitive forces but complementary ones.

John’s task was so daunting that he rarely took time away from his work, which created strain and ill health, and led to poor choices. The first lesson from his experience is that God provides friends and spouses as a support network for ministry. Just as God would revive the dry bones of Israel, God had provided support to John, he just didn’t utilize it.  Trying to do ministry without the assistance of others, regardless how important the ministry may be, will lead to impaired results.

Lesson Two 

Methodology can become a cage if not tempered by a sensitive heart.

When John found himself thinking of Sophy too often, he set up rules, resolutions, and lists of reasons not to take a wife. His heart was divided, and it destroyed his sense of peace, which eventually affected his judgment. But God promises to create in us new hearts, able to balance laws and love. To the Israelites, infatuated with their rules, God stated, “I will give them a single heart, and I will put a new spirit in them. I will remove the stony hearts from their bodies and give them hearts of flesh, so that they may follow my regulations and carefully observe my case laws” (Ezekiel 11:19).


For personal devotion, read the questions and meditate upon each, and write down your responses. For group discussion, share, as appropriate, your answers with your group and then discuss the application.

Whom do you look to as a support for your ministry? Name them, and write down the last time you were with them. Did you seek their prayers, encouragement, and a listening ear? After his vision of the dry bones, God reminded Ezekiel that God would unite a nation that hitherto had been estranged (see Ezekiel 37:15–22).

Draw up a plan for regular times of prayer, Bible study, and encouragement with a support network. Create one from scratch if you must. Add to this plan an ongoing schedule to ensure that you do not neglect those that support you.

Ask yourself, “Do I depend on rules and regulations to keep me focused? What part does my love of God and the love I receive from others play in this? Do these requirements I put upon myself sometimes steal my time away from accountability by family and friends?” 

Accountability requires more than good methods; it must include people too. What part of your support network is also your accountability network? Again, write down a schedule for being in contact with your accountability network to ensure that you are held accountable.

Excerpted with permission from Enthusiast! Finding a Faith That Fills, ©BobWhitesel, Wesleyan Publishing House, 2018, pp. 63-67.

WEEKLY SABBATICAL & Productivity Increases When Time Off is Made Predictable—and Required

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: You think we would understand the importance of a regular sabbatical, when even God who would seem to never need it took a day off after creation. Yet in our ministry worlds we sometimes don’t get a reprieve from emails and work related duties. Yet research shows that having “required” and “regular” time off makes a team more productive. Read the research here.

Making Time Off Predictable, And Required

by Leslie A. Perlow and Jessica L. Porter, Harvard Business Review, 10/9/09 (view here: 8.95.)

People in professional services (consultants, investment bankers, accountants, lawyers, IT, and the like) simply expect to make work their top priority. They believe an “always on” ethic is essential if they and their firms are to succeed in the global marketplace. Just look at the numbers: According to a survey we conducted last year, 94% of 1,000 such professionals said they put in 50 or more hours a week, with nearly half that group turning in more than 65 hours a week. That doesn’t include the 20 to 25 hours a week most of them spend monitoring their BlackBerrys while outside the office. These individuals further say they almost always respond within an hour of receiving a message from a colleague or a client.

Yet our research over the past four years in several North American offices of the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) suggests that it is perfectly possible for consultants and other professionals to meet the highest standards of service and still have planned, uninterrupted time off. Indeed, we found that when the assumption that everyone needs to be always available was collectively challenged, not only could individuals take time off, but their work actually benefited. Our experiments with time off resulted in more open dialogue among team members, which is valuable in itself. But the improved communication also sparked new processes that enhanced the teams’ ability to work most efficiently and effectively.

Predictable time off is the name we gave to the designated periods of time that consultants were required to take off…

(Lessons learned, included the following:)

Lesson 1: Impose a strict time-off mechanism

To get hard-driving consultants to agree to take time off during an assignment—not just when there happened to be a break in the work but at predictable times—we had to establish a mechanism that made it clear to everyone how time off must be taken: either a full day or a full night each week for everyone on the team, which was scheduled at the start of each project…

Lesson 2: Build dialogue into the process

In each of our experiments, we used explicit tactics to generate conversation around the time-off goals in particular, and around work processes more generally…

Lesson 3: Encourage experimentation

Beyond creating a safe space for open dialogue, we found it imperative to encourage people to experiment with new work processes. Ways of working that would have previously gone unquestioned were suddenly fair game for reconsideration…

Lesson 4: Insist on leadership support

Individuals won’t willingly engage in these experiments unless they are able to suspend their disbelief. For that to happen, people need to know that there is value in trying; that they will be respected for participating; and that they will bear some responsibility for the success or failure of the experiment…

Read more at …

TELECOMMUTING & Millennials Say They’ll Relocate for Work-Life Flexibility

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: “For your company to improve morale, innovation and impact you must embrace employee flexibility. Read this Harvard Business Review article for more research that shows employee flexibility is especially critical to keep talented Millennials in your work force.”

Read more at …

HIRING & What Good Candidates Want: $ + Work-life Balance

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: “Research shows that when you want to hire the best people, you will find they usually will not be looking for a new job, but rather are a “passive” candidate. To reach the best candidates, research shows you must not only offer them more money, but a better work-life balance too. Organizations typically offer more money and forget that to get the best candidates they must offer more work-life balance too.”

QUOTE: “Research shows passive (hiring) candidates are looking for more benefits and perks, work-life balance and opportunities to move their careers forward.”

EMPLOYEES & The 2015 Workplace Flexibility Study

The 2015 Workplace Flexibility Study, 2/2/15: “Survey Finds Disconnect Between Employers and Employees On Work-Life Balance”

While 67% of employers feel workers have work-life balance, 45% of employees disagree.

Boston, MA and Los Angeles, CA, February 17,, a research and advisory membership portal servicing forward-thinking HR professionals, and CareerArc, a global recruitment and outplacement firm, today announced the results of a new study entitled, “2015 Workplace Flexibility Study.” Following a national survey of 1087 professionals, both employed and unemployed, in addition to 116 HR professionals, 67% of HR professionals think that their employees have a balanced work-life, yet almost half (45%) of employees (35% of job seekers) feel that they don’t have enough time each week to do personal activities. One in five employees surveyed spent over 20 hours working outside of the office on their personal time per week – a clear indicator of suboptimal work-life balance.

Technology may be to blame for the amount of work performed outside of the office: The survey found that the majority of workers–65% of employees (67% of job seekers) say that their manager expects them to be reachable outside of the office, 9% by email (7% for job seekers at their previous job), 23% by phone (27% for job seekers) and 33% by email and phone (34% for job seekers). From the HR perspective, 64% expect their employees to be reachable outside of the office on their personal time, 18% by email, 3% by phone and 26% by both email and phone.

Taking work home after office hours may be the norm, but formal workplace flexibility programs–wherein employees have the option to periodically work from home without coming into the office–seem to be benefiting both employees and employers. 87% of HR leaders believe that workplace flexibility programs lead to employee satisfaction, while nearly 7 out of 10 HR leaders use workplace flexibility programs as a recruiting and retention tool.

The study exposed employee and employer preferences on issues of work-life balance, flex programs, and benefits.

Additional highlights from the report include:

Companies are investing more in work flexibility programs in 2015.

Workplace flexibility is more important to employees than employers think. 50% of employers ranked workplace flexibility as the most important benefit they believe their employees desire, compared to 75% of employees (and 74% of those unemployed) who ranked it as their top benefit. Employees, job seekers and HR professionals agree that paid and unpaid time off is most important to employees (72% of HR vs. 79% of employees and 74% of job seekers). Both employees (61%) and job seekers (66%) ranked financial support, such as tuition assistance, as being most important after time off.

Employers are seeing benefits from their flexibility programs. The top benefits organizations saw in their work flex programs were improved employee satisfaction (87%), increased productivity (71%), and that they retained current talent (65%). 69% use their programs as a recruiting tool and 54% said that their programs positively impacted their recruiting.

Boomers don’t benefit from their flexibility program as much as younger generations. 62% said that the demographic that benefits most is Gen X compared to 35% of Gen Y and only 3% of boomers.

Employees care most about compensation yet employers think otherwise. 37% of employers said that the type of work that employees do is most important to them, compared to the money they make (24%). On the other hand, 31% of employees (24% of job seekers) said that the money they make is most important followed by the type of the work they do (22% of employees and 23% of job seekers).

There is a large opportunity for employers to strengthen their employment brand by offering outplacement and career transition assistance to their employees. 71% of job seekers answered that they were likely to choose a company that offered outplacement (career coaching and transition services for laid-off employees) over a company that did not if all else (salary, role, etc.) was equal. As a benefit, outplacement assistance was more important to potential employees than health and wellness benefits, community volunteer initiatives, tuition assistance, or culture change initiatives such as team building. Outplacement trailed only workplace flexibility and time off for jobseekers evaluating employer benefits. Approximately one-third (34%) of the organizations surveyed with 500+ employees currently offer outplacement assistance to it’s laid-off employees.

Read more at …