How Can Leaders Sustain A Healthy Work-Life Balance?

By Dr. Sam Voorhies

Oxygen is something that we take for granted while our feet are firmly planted on the ground. But during flight, if something goes awry, that little yellow mask drops from the ceiling in an airliner to give life-saving oxygen in a depressurized cabin. Without it, we lose consciousness, or worse. 

The oxygen mask is an analogy for the practices that leaders need for successfully juggling the incessant demands of leading businesses and organizations while protecting personal health, family life, and spiritual discipleship. In other words, sustaining a work/life balance. 

A healthy work/life balance is crucial to following Jesus’s model of leadership effectiveness. It’s also crucial to avoiding burnout, a common result of lack of balance.   

Think you don’t need this discussion? Let’s take a quick poll. Raise your hand if you: 

  • Get eight hours of sleep regularly–that’s actually in the bed, not catnapping in the backseat of a Uber. 
  • Get rigorous exercise at least three times a week, and no, walking through an airport does not count. 
  • Work an average of 40 hours a week. Yes, 40. 
  • Took all your annual leave last year. No carrying it over to the following year. 

If you had trouble raising your hand, no doubt you’re not alone. And you probably also think your maxed-out schedule will soon level out—once you have more control over things. Right?  

We need to stop deceiving ourselves. A starting point is to pause, and let Jesus tend to us. 

“Come to Me all of you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest, for I am gentle, and humble in heart and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light. (Matthew 11: 28-30) 

In the coming weeks we’re going to  

  • Explore how Jesus sustained a work/life balance by staying close to His Father.  
  • Look at our practice of ignoring our bodies’ warning signs of unmanaged stress.  
  • Acknowledge our tendency toward being addicted to work and its adrenaline-producing demands.  
  • Study the need to say no—and learn (or maybe relearn) how to do it. 

We invite you to regularly visit the Center for Biblical Leadership’s blog and take time to read and think about these posts. Each includes some questions for reflection and application, and scriptures to meditate on. We’re confident you’ll find them worthwhile. 

Dr. Sam Voorhies, the Center’s Director, has been president and CEO of Voorhies International Consulting since 2010. He taught numerous courses at seminaries and universities around the world from 1990 to 2017.



Lifework is an eight-month leadership experience that runs from September to May. Each class examines the life of Jesus as the best example of a leader and influencer, as well as corporate leadership best practices.