Feeling divided, exhausted and overwhelmed?

Feel Fragmented? It's become the new "norm" for life? But it doesn't have to be this way!One, if not the leading cause of burnout and living on empty is that we live divided lives. We live as if our life works best according to a silo mentality. A silo mentality is living in a paradigm of life that puts your work life in one silo, your relationships in another silo; your health in a silo and your spiritual life in yet, another silo. Then we try to keep all the silos full.It’s an illusion to live in such a way—to live as if we can spin our plates or fill our silos keeping everything in balance. Living in an illusion is called denial. Denying the truth will not set a person free. There is a better way to live!We have one heart and the heart cannot be divided—or at least we should not attempt to divide our hearts. We have but one soul—and the soul we have been given needs to function as a whole—and not be splintered or fragmented.The word “integration” offers us a way to navigate the swirling whitewater of competing demands and rivaling priorities. When we move forward to integrate our lives, we bring together all the silos—whether they are empty or full and seek to live one life in one way and at the same time. We are not divided. We are not fragmented. We are not spinning plates.The word “integration” means "to engage in the act of combining parts to make a unified whole." The English word for integration is based on the Latin word which means, “renewal.” To live one life—to live in an undivided way is perhaps one of the deepest ways we can experience renewal.As I travel and continue my work with leaders across the spectrum of ministry and the marketplace, the clarion call I continue to hear is this: “There has to be a better way to live—than all of this craziness that I am experiencing. I am more and more concerned. It's as if we are living intoxicated lives--living nightmare and forsaking a life Jesus described that we could actually live. People 50, 100, and 2000 years ago had challenges like we do in our own day.  They did not have the modern "conveniences" we have today such as fast food, email and texting. With all our progress though, we have not figured out a way to live undivided-to live our one life in our one body with our one family and a few friends. We're bankrupt when it comes to how to live life in a better way.[tweetthis]To move towards integrating your life—not managing your silo is the key.[/tweetthis]We get confused and dazed by all the roles we have in life. Many of us wear many hats. We coach a team; serve on a committee; work hard in our jobs and want to love our families well. But ever since the Industrial Revolution and the creation of the light bulb and now technology, we have become intoxicated with the notion of needing to balance our lives. The Industrial Revolution violated any notion of feeling integrated. It was precisely here that we exploited children and yoked them to the yoke to be producers of goods. The light bulb violated natural time and with the dawn of the light bulb, we found we could do even more—become even more productive. We rested less; slept less and enjoyed life less. Technology made us to be always on and always available. Now tethered to gadgets and iphones we are more enslaved and less happy---but more productive.Yet in the 6th century, a man by the name of Benedict of Nursia in Italy, developed a model for how to live an integrated life. He established a certain way or “rule” where he recommended moving through each day in a certain and defined boundary. He took the four basic movements of his expanding community: work, study, prayer and rest and then established defined times that you move into each movement. A bell was used to usher people from their work to their rest. When the bell chimed, people stopped what they were doing—whether they were finished or not and moved to rest. They knew that work is really never, ever done. Work will be there tomorrow. It wasn’t about trying to finish all the tasks. It was about a greater goal…a goal which allowed hard working folks to live in a sustainable rhythm. We've given up bells today. We're always on and always available. We feel empty and live our lives in a quiet sense of desperation. We can do better---and we need to do better because the life you are living now, is the only life you will ever live. You will not get another life; another body; another opportunity to live your life. Now is the time.Today, we have no bells. We are consumed. We are over-worked and over-extended and we live our lives living an exhausted life.To begin to live in a new paradigm will call for a radical shift in how you see time and use time. The goals of life will shift. You will cultivate a new paradigm of your time. Rather than manage your time and time manage you; you will foster a way of life that will include all you really need to do in lifeI often hear from folks in ministry: “I never get to pray or read my Bible as I want.” Their spiritual life feels bankrupt. I often hear from marketplace leaders a sense of feeling breathless and living on “thin ice.”David prayed, “Give me an undivided heart that I may praise your name (Psalm 86:11). He, like so many of us expressed his own desire to live in a sustainable rhythm. He wanted his life to feel like a whole life—not a fragmented life.Ezekiel describes God’s desire for us—that we would live our lives with an undivided heart (Ez 11:19).I’m encouraged that God’s heart for us is to live in an integrated way. It’s just that we have become confused in all of our productivity that we now feel more dead than alive.To live integrated means an awakening to how I treat my body in all I do. To live in a sustainable rhythm means, “Enough. I’ve poured out all day long. I now need to rest. I now need to heed the bell and move to something else—something that can and will replenish me.To live integrated means that you want friends who want this same thing. We need to encourage each other when we see someone stopping and lively sanely.To live integrated means a wake up call for the 21st century church which often lays even more burdens on the shoulders or people than offer them a true sanctuary. The spiritual life may not be about adding MORE to your life---it just may mean, doing less. The modern church must awaken to the spiritual rhythm of Sabbath—a rhythm established by God lived out in the early church. We learn to “cease” (which is the literal definition of Sabbath and give up the foolish notion that we and our jobs are indispensible. Every pastor is really an “interim” leader and will be replaced. The same is true in the marketplace. So, if this is true, why do we feel so yoked to our jobs? There is another way to live that offers us a way to live in a sustainable rhythm and it begins with a new paradigm of integrating your life. Here are some ways you can experiment:

  1. Set you phone to ring at the end of your day and then leave work.
  2. Implement a day a week that is technology free.
  3. Spend more time outside.
  4. Take time between each meeting to reflect and integrate how you are feeling with what you are doing. Give yourself 10 minutes between appointments for example.
  5. Set your iphone to remind you to pray and lift out of your work several times a day. Read a Psalm. Walk in silence.
  6. Make your bedroom a technology free zone for life and rest. Do not sleep with your iphone. Sleep with your spouse!
  7. Do not bring phones to the dinner table. The table is a place of gathering, not updating your status!
  8. Use the Benedictine movements of life (work, rest, study and prayer) and come up with no more than four categories that will define each day.

Questions to explore: 

  1. Is the way your are living your life sustainable?
  2. If you could move towards living an integrated life, what would you week look like?
  3. To explore this more, read Chapter 7 of Inside Job “The Leader’s Rhythm: Exploring the Lie of the Balanced Life.  Order the book here! Get a free chapter and more!