This Saturday 22nd October I will be in Manchester to graduate with a Master of Arts in Theology (Aspects of Christian Holiness). I started this degree in September 2008 and in the course of that study I also had to take on a new appointment (at the beginning of 2009), be a good husband and father, and look after myself throughout it all. I discovered fairly early on that I needed a good study schedule in order to achieve all that I needed to achieve, without any of my other responsibilities failing. There is no point in graduating with an MA if my marriage is falling apart, my kids don't know me, and my ministry was floundering. I had to maintain some measure of balance in my life.
I learnt this the hard way. I learnt this from experiencing extreme imbalance. This became abundantly clear when one night my wife said to me over the dinner table, "Let me know when you get back from visiting the study pixies." That was a big wake up call for me. I was present with my family physically, but mentally I was a long way away.... and it was obvious to those around me.
Thank God for a wife who'll be completely honest with me and hold me to account for my responsibilities.
So, I needed to reassess my situation and come up with a weekly schedule that worked for me. I'm not naturally an organised person, so this was somewhat out of character, but I also gave myself permission to be flexible with this. I've had the opportunity to share this with a number of people recently and I thought it may be beneficial to share it here as it may help others who are trying to balance multiple responsibilities. My work schedule is basically 9:00am - 5:00pm which means this plan is workable. So here it is...
Monday - Thursday
Study 8:00pm - 12:00am.
I tried not to go past midnight too often, as I recognise the need to include adequate rest within this schedule. I start at 8:00pm because that is when the kids are in bed. I made the decision not to study from when the kids finish school until they are in bed. Besides that time just being too hectic, that was important time for me to be with them and also help with the dinner-bath-bed routine.
Night with Megan.
No study. No work.
Round the house activities. Shopping. Activities with the kids. No study.
Worship and rest. No study.
Where possible I would also take one day a week for study and research.
Lastly... It's important for me (because my personality is naturally unstructured) that this structure became the "rule", but also allowed for "exceptions". This meant that there was the flexibility that was needed at various points.
I hope this is helpful.
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