Good News from God for Chronic Ball-Droppers

Jesus' parable says what to do when you're juggling too much.

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. 

Better Self-Talk for Chronic Ball-Droppers

(Photo: by Christian “VisualBeo” Horvat. Own work. GFDL, via Wikimedia Commons)

 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.

Jesus’ Parable of the Juggler

(Photo: by Reinhard Kirchner. Own work. GFDL, via Wikimedia Commons)

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

Question: 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.

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I'd love to hear your thoughts. Just keep it kind and relevant. Thanks!

  • Wayne, I don’t remember when I first starting following you, but I remember being deeply impacted by reading “Walking in the Footsteps of Jesus.” I appreciate how unique your perspective is concerning timeless biblical principles. This post is so very timely in that I’ve had to say no (at least for now) to something I love very much – teaching, so that I can focus more intentionally on God’s priorities concerning my current ministry and my family. Press on!

    • I’m cheering you on, Josh, as you enjoy the benefits of a more effective juggling act. 🙂 Thanks for your gracious words about my book and blog. I’m honored you would read. I have discovered that gifts have seasons, and the times when we aren’t used to our full potential we often can give God the greatest glory.

  • Walt Stephens

    This isn’t an answer to your question, rather a comment on your Tweet quote. It reminded me of something I read many years ago in a book called “Search for Significance”. I keep this in my wallet and re-read it when I begin dropping balls and feeling bad about my performance. God helps me get my perspective right.

    “I have great worth apart from my performance, because Christ gave His life for me and therefore imparted great value to me. I am deeply loved fully pleasing, totally forgiven, accepted and complete in Christ.”

    • What a great quote. That is worth keeping in your wallet! Thank you for including it.

  • Angela B Berry

    What a great post! I am juggling many balls right now and you reminded me that I need to keep “bearing fruit for God” a priority. Thanks Wayne.

  • Today I said no to housework and a shower to play legos and go to the library with my son, who asked me to play with him. In the season of young motherhood lots of balls drop every day, I just choose which ones are more important for the moment–with God’s help.

    • I am standing and applauding, Seana! You’ll never regret it.