Ever tried to juggle? I gave it a shot with three tennis balls one time. I might as well have thrown the balls three different directions. It was hilarious! In the end, I could only “juggle” one ball.
Most people can learn to juggle three balls, I’m told. But adding a fourth ball divides the amateurs from the pros.
But what about adding a fifth ball? We do it all the time. (Or we try to.) Juggling provides one of the best metaphors for our crazy-busy lives. We drop balls.
Dropping balls has nothing to do with skill. It’s all about character.
Jesus’ Parable of the Juggler
Even the most skilled jugglers have a limit. They max out their abilities. I love the way business expert Peter Drucker says it in his book, The Effective Executive:
We rightly consider keeping many balls in the air a circus stunt. Yet even the juggler does it only for ten minutes or so. If he were to try doing it longer, he would soon drop all the balls. —Peter Drucker
We’ve all seen it in others. We even try it ourselves. No margin for error, we add another ball to the swirl we toss in front of us, and finally one drops.
Jesus never told a parable about juggling, but the principle still fits. When He spoke of seed that “fell among the thorns; and the thorns grew up with it, and choked it out,” Jesus said the seed represents the Word of God, and the thorny ground represents:
The ones who have heard, and as they go on their way they are choked with worries and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to maturity. —Luke 8:14
What a word picture: “choked with worries . . . no fruit.”
Self-Talk for Chronic Ball-Droppers
In a busy life, it’s easy to allow the worries and riches and pleasures of this life to keep adding balls to our juggling act. What’s our problem? In a word: denial.
And we defend those dozen balls in the air with self-talk like:
- “Only I can do it right.”
- “We just need to work harder and smarter.”
- “This is just a season. It will get better soon.”
Can’t you just hear the balls dropping? Denial does that. It keeps us from seeing the havoc we’ve created.
Changing How We Think About Juggling
Dropped balls seldom means somebody lacks talent or ability. Skill has nothing to do with it.
Those bouncing balls often represent someone trying to juggle their self-esteem. When so, there aren’t enough balls in the world to give our ego a satisfying performance.
It’s incredibly difficult to bear fruit for God when our overloaded, busy lives are so focused on self-fulfillment.
Two changes in thinking and self-talk may help:
- See Our True Value—We need to stop the act and realize that whether we have one ball or ten spinning above us, it makes no difference to God. Our worth and value come from what He says about us—not from what we do for Him.
- Share the Load—When we realize we can’t keep up the juggling act, we need to ask for help, delegate some tennis balls to other qualified jugglers, and trust them to manage their own tasks without us slapping their hands.
We’ve all been there. Too many balls in the air means little margin—and often, ironically, little productivity. No fruit for God.
We have to decide what tasks are priorities to bearing fruit for God and what tasks we can delegate or drop altogether.
Tell me what you think: What can you say “no” to in your busy life in order to say “yes” to God’s priorities? To leave a comment, just click here.