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Giving Up the “Balanced Life” Fantasy Set Me Free

Once she stopped striving for perfection, Pastor Erika Uthe found making intentional choices about her schedule allowed her to empower others and gave her peace.



Pastor Erika Uthe
St. John Lutheran Church
Ely, Iowa
January 2016

Being a wife, mom, and solo pastor while working to maintain my own identity and sanity is a challenge, to say the least. There are always demands: children who wake up before I’m ready, committees that need to meet to make ministry decisions, my own internal expectations (think "Wholeness Wheel" at its perfection). It was overwhelming, until I gave up on the idea of a completely balanced life. It’s an unattainable fantasy.

I’ve come to realize what I really want isn’t balance, but intentional centeredness. That means knowing who I am as a child of God and how that plays out in the world. When I focus on who God has made me to be — my gifts, my growth edges, my values — I can make better decisions about where I spend my time and energy.

This shift in perspective has helped me to give up on unrealistic expectations and to model a healthier way of being in our world. For instance, I value time with my family. This means that I work with committee chairs and equip them to meet without me so I can have a night at home. This also means I trust some pastoral care to trained Stephen Ministers, train other leaders to teach and lead faith formation, and generally work to give ministry back to the congregation. I value physical wellness, and so I intentionally block out time for exercise on my calendar. Not only are these things beneficial for me, but they also empower others in ways which bless them and the kingdom.

By knowing my values and intentionally making decisions based on them—and sharing this effort with my congregation—I hope to encourage others do the same. I am not perfect, and still often struggle with intentional centeredness. But 2016 is a new year, and I hope it will be my best year yet.

This submission describes a personal perspective on an aspect of the ELCA benefit program that may or may not reflect the experience of others.


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