The Modern Knight

principles | PURPOSE | perspective

IV: Pursue a Balanced Life (one last thing)

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy,
All play and no work makes Jack a mere toy.
Maria Edgeworth, Irish Novelist, 1825

That one probably sounds familiar. You may even be able to imagine a crazed Jack Nicholson pounding that out on his typwriter, but did you realize that this is another piece of ancient wisdom? Here is a variation from over 4000 years ago:

One that reckons accounts all the day passes not a happy moment. One that gladdens his heart all the day provides not for his house.
Ptahhotep, Egyptian Sage, 2350 B.C.

The benefits from properly ordering work and rest have been recognized from the beginning of time. It makes the list of Commandments as “the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work” (Exodus 20:10) and Vernon specifically mentions “the balance of work versus rest” in the principle to pursue a balanced life. If it has been understood for so long why is it still such a struggle?

You may not have ever heard of “Parkinson’s Principle” but you have no doubt experienced it. The principle simply states: Work expands to fill all available time. Sometimes the expansion is  pushed on us by the demands of the job, other times we bring it on ourselves by volunteering for extra details or overtime. Unless we put some limits on this gluttonous monster the demands of work can consume us. Without being intentional about ordering our time the urgent things can crowd out what is really important. The tension between urgency and importance is the topic of the tiny book, Tyranny of the Urgent by Charles Hummel. This pocket-sized-30-pager is so small that you can finish it while deciding what to read. But don’t be fooled by the size, it is pound-for-pound one of the most important things I have read.

im·por·tant -adj.
of significant worth or consequence : valuable in content or relationship

ur·gent -adj.
calling for immediate attention

Hummel calls it a problem of jumbled priorities and suggests looking at how you spend your time the same way you do your money. He says, “Unlike money, time come to us in equal amounts. In fact, everyone has all the time there is – twenty-four hours a day,” and maps out four basic steps to ordering your time: 

  • Decide What’s Important: Relationships, service, work, hobbies, recreation, exercise; decide what activities are most important so you can give them the proper priority. Take time to set goals for each imoportant activity and estimate the time each will take in the next several months.
  • Discover Where Your Time Goes: Make an accounting of where you are spending your time now. If you keep a log of exactly how you are spending your time for a week you may be very surprised at how you under or over estimate where your time really goes. 
  • Budget The Hours: A spending plan for your time. Hummel warns against trying too much change at once. Start with the way you are spending your time now and plan a few changes that align with your priorities as they become possible for you.
  • Follow Through: Even the best laid plans produce little without a firm resolve to implement them.




Add a Comment
  1. I’m so thankful that you put me at number 2. I never worry that work will top your list or that God will slide toward the bottom. Your priorities are right where they need to be. Thanks for that. Love you!

  2. I came on this article by searching for what being a knight means. I have always tried to find purpose to my life ever since tragic incidents have happened to me. This article contains more than words, it contains soul, and that soul has led me an a path that I will never forget…

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