Working College Students: Finding Balance in Life
How do you get everything done? Where do you find the time? Are you too burnt out for friends? For love? For you?
Martin Zerrudo: You’re just trying to get through the day. You’re barely able to keep up, keep everything together — work, school, friends, life, love, sleep. How do you get everything done? Where do you find the time? What about your friends? What about you? How are you supposed to balance life? It’s a question every young person faces day in, day out, as they struggle to find success. And what does success even mean anymore if in the pursuit you’ve given up so much? The world wants to take all of your time and all of your energy, and you have only so much to give, that at the end of the day, you feel like there’s nothing left for you. So, now, what? When the light at the end of the tunnel of finding of some form of stability and balance seems to get further and further away, dimmer and dimmer, what do you do? Where do you go? Well, there may be hope yet. And we’re here to talk about it. So, let’s have a Heart and Soul conversation.
Martin: You’re listening to Heart and Soul, a podcast from the Iglesia Ni Cristo, Church of Christ. I’m your host, Martin Zerrudo, and I’ll be interviewing young adults from across the world, who are living Christian lives, but are also dealing with real-world problems. This is Heart and Soul.
Welcome to Heart and Soul. Our guest for today is Phillip Secondez. Phillip is from New York. He’s 26 years old, and is in school, studying full-time to become a Physical Therapist. He’s also very active in his personal fitness, often going to the gym, and very active in his faith, holding multiple responsibilities at Church. He also happens to be in a very happy relationship, if he didn’t have enough on his plate already. How’s it going, Phillip?
Phillip: How’s it going, bro? I’m trying.
Martin: Thanks so much for being here. Are you excited?
Martin: Have you ever recorded a podcast before?
Phillip: This is going to be my first.
Martin: Awesome. Me too [laughs]. And our second guest is Shannon Santamaria, calling in from Hawaii. She’s 22, and was in school full-time, until she recently graduated with an AA (Associate of Arts) Degree. She’s working full-time at our very own INC Media Services as an editor and host. She is currently single, and is committed to multiple responsibilities at Church. Aloha, Shannon!
Shannon: Aloha, Martin!
Martin: How are you?
Shannon: I’m doing good. It’s always nice to be here.
Martin: Awesome. And we also have, joining us today, minister of the gospel, Brother Richie Juatco, husband and advocate of eating healthy, and staying fit both in mind, body, and spirit. Hello, Brother Richie, how are you?
Brother Richie Juatco: How are you, Martin? Thank you so much for inviting me on this episode.
Martin: All right, the topic of our episode is finding the balance, the success in the struggle. Now, we’re going to jump right in to our first article, and I’d like to get your thoughts, Phillip and Shannon, on this article.
From the Boston Globe—“The millennial generation, the first to grow up with smartphones in their hands, is often stereotyped as lazy and entitled. But workplace experts actually say that they’re more commonly known as workaholics…among the 19-35 year olds, perhaps more so than the previous generations. And in an online study, more than 4 in 10 millennials consider themselves ‘work martyrs’—dedicated, indispensable, and racked with guilt every time they ask for some time off. And what’s more—nearly half of millennials want to be seen that way.” Phillip…Shannon… thoughts?
Phillip: I think that the first statement you made about the millennial generation being stereotyped as lazy or entitled… I think it’s hard first off to make generalized statements in terms of generational gaps like that. There’s definitely lots of factors that play into that such as economic background, familial upbringing, social interactions… but I think it’s very individualistic. I think that the reason why 4 in 10 millennials consider themselves workaholics is because they don’t really have any other option. I think I was listening to this podcast the other day, where they’re talking about the majority of the money in the U.S. right now lies within the baby boomer generation. I feel like we have a higher mountain to climb versus these older generations. I think that’s where this hard-working mentality kind of comes from in our generation.
Martin: Right. It’s like, “Hey go out and get a job, except your dad and your grandfather still have those jobs.” So…
Phillip: Exactly. There’s just less capital for us.
Shannon: I totally agree with Phillip. Everyone has their own circumstances when it comes to socio-economics. Your lifestyle and how you go about achieving those, overcoming those challenges. But I think what a lot of the stereotypes, or how we’re supposedly stereotyped, is because of the amount of materialistic things we have now. I feel like the more we attain, the harder we have to work. And even a lot of the times, we have to help our families with that. I don’t think a lot of that are foreseen, or all of those factors are foreseen. So, being dedicated and devoting your time in work has actually become a lifestyle. I mean, if you’re considered someone who just stays at home, you kind of get a negative connotation, towards it…
Martin: Right, right.
Shannon: You just stay at home, you don’t have a job…
Martin: So, it’s true, you get guilted. Look at them, they’re out there, working 10 hours a day, and you’re at home.
Shannon: Yes, I feel like that’s the common belief, like a lot of young workers in our working society have right now. And even in a lot of cultures, and the media that you see today, you see movies where, “Oh, he’s 30 and he’s not working. He’s at home with his parents.” There’s definitely a negative connotation.
Martin: They haven’t moved out at 18, and they’re not living on their own, and working three jobs—
Phillip: There’s a bunch of social expectations, you know?
Martin: Right, right. Do you guys feel like growing up, in your twenties, when you got your first real job… Did you feel like, “I have to be seen as somebody who’s always working all the time? The martyr who’s always taking the extra shift, who’s doing the overtime, who’s ready to say yes to whatever the boss wants?”
Shannon: I definitely feel like, even at a younger age… I went to a school that was very well-privileged, so everyone at that school was very well off. And at a young age, I already felt the social pressures with that, where I felt like I had to have this financial means to be able to sustain that materialistic lifestyle. And it’s funny that you say that, actually, because with attaining and working harder, sometimes you’re just so focused on making that money or just devoting yourself to that job because you feel like it’s the only option you have—fitting in with the social culture of this world.
Martin: Where did you grow up, Shannon?
Shannon: I grew up in San Diego…
Martin: San Diego…
Shannon: I went to Olympian High School, so there were a lot of students who got Mercedes for their 16th or 18th birthday. And I felt like I had to compete with that.
Martin: Phillip, where did you grow up?
Phillip: I was born and raised in San Francisco, California.
Martin: There you go. Similar to Shannon?
Phillip: Yeah, very similar. I mean, I don’t know how many of our listeners have been to San Francisco, but it’s been like one of the up-and-coming cities, very expensive to live in. The cost of living is extremely high. I think, I just saw the other day, it’s almost $4 for a gallon of gas.
Phillip: But, definitely, right up that same alley as Shannon, I was fortunate enough to live in a family with parents who supported me throughout all of my schooling. But I think most of the social pressure, or the pressure to work, is rooted into how hard they work, and to try and emulate how hard they work, and the example they set for me. So, I definitely could have gotten by without working, but just to instill that hard-working mentality for myself, I set out to get a job when I started college.
Martin: Oh I see. And, Brother Richie, first of all, where did you grow up and did you have similar social pressures to get into the workforce and start climbing the career ladder as early as possible?
Brother Richie: I grew up in the L.A. area. You know, every time I hear “millennials” or “millennial generation,” sometimes, as all three of you mentioned, sometimes it generalizes because maybe it’s not just those in that age. I think times have changed.
Brother Richie: So, technology is different… and, definitely, definitions of certain things change as well. Technology, as time goes on, normally, technology is used to help people, to make things more convenient. We’re able to connect with each other. We’re able to do certain things that we don’t have to manually do anymore. So, when it comes to work, or being a workaholic, sometimes that would be different from what 20-30 years ago—what a workaholic is, how much a person puts into their craft. The one thing that I do know, whatever generation, whatever age someone is, when it comes to work, we know that work is something we do not only do because we have to. It’s an instruction. God commands us to work for what we need, but there’s something that we should also understand. When it comes to everything that we need to do, when it comes to our different responsibilities, we can balance everything needed—and the reason why we say that is because that’s what is recorded in the Bible.
And, in fact, I’ll quote what’s written here in Ecclesiastes 3:1. It says:
For everything, there is an appointed season and there’s a proper time for every project under heaven.
Brother Richie: So, we have time to do everything we have to do. It’s just it’s a challenge to make sure everything fits and everything balances.
Martin: Definitely, and I think it was a great point that you mentioned earlier, Brother Richie, in terms of technology. I remember when I was 17 or 18, I was working retail, I loved it. I was at the mall, you’re working with your friends, discount on clothes, and whenever the Regional Manager would come in, you make sure the store looks great, they would come in and they would have this thing that was tied to their belt, and it was a small black device and she was clicking away, and I’m like, “Is that a—that’s not a cell phone?” But it has a keyboard and everything. And I asked my buddy, “What does she have?” And he’s like, “Oh, that’s a Blackberry.” And I instantly associated that somebody who had advanced in life, and who was in a position of power, and who was always working and was successful has this device. “Oh they’re emailing? And they can check the Internet and everything on this one device?” And I was enamored by this technology that allowed you to stay connected.
And exactly to Brother Richie’s point, as you got older, you kind of realized that this technology, while it made it easier to communicate, it actually added more workload. You’re so accessible, and you have more access to so many things from the workplace that’s beyond the 9-5 traditional work hours, that you’re actually doing more work instead of balancing it out with other things, with more important things.
I think there was a law somewhere in Europe where they banned emails. You can’t check your phone after 5 o’clock or something. It was one of the countries in Europe because they knew that if you’re always going to be on your phone, then you’re, technically, always working, which is pretty awful.
So, it’s not just the Boston Globe. According to Buzzfeed, millennials or young people have now become what is known as “the burnout generation.” And I saw this on the news the other day that the World Health Organization actually classifies burnout as a medical thing.
Maybe, Phillip, you can talk a little more about that, but the reason why we, as young people, have burnout is because we face more difficult an uphill climb socio-economically than past generations. So, this is what the article goes on to say: “Financially-speaking, most of us lag far behind where our parents were when they were our age. We have far less saved, far less equity, far less stability, and far, far more student debt—” which is something I’d like to touch on.
“As American businesses become more efficient, better at turning a profit around… and the next generation needed to be positioned to compete, we couldn’t just show up with a diploma and expect to get a job that would allow us to retire at 55. In a marked shift from the generation before, millennials needed to optimize ourselves to be better or the very best workers possible.”
So, Shannon, Phillip, your thoughts on burnout? Have you ever experienced that before, where you just kept pushing and pushing and pushing ‘cause you felt like you had to meet those socio-economic expectations?
Shannon: Actually, I started living on my own—with my own rent—at a very young age. So, at 18 or 19 already, I was trying to pay off rent and working three jobs, just to maintain the cost of living in San Diego. It was actually really expensive, and even though my mom was living with me, she actually really, really needed help. We both needed to work together to be able to afford the place that we were staying [in]. So, there were times when I would go to school from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., then go to work, 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., then have to go to another shift from midnight to 7 a.m. , then catch school the next day.
Martin: Wait, when did you sleep? (laughs)
Shannon: Exactly! I didn’t get to sleep. That was my problem—I didn’t have time to rest and take care of myself.
Martin: That’s brutal. 2-3 jobs plus school, plus your responsibilities at church, plus paying for rent. How old were you at the time?
Shannon: I was 19, actually. So only a couple of years ago, before I moved to Hawaii, that happened. And a lot of my friends started getting really concerned because I just felt like I had to be the one to take care of my family as well. I had to be this independent person where I can’t really ask for help because I want to be the one to give the help.
Martin: So, it’s like, you were experiencing burnout, but you just refused to acknowledge it or admit it.
Martin: Phillip, what about you?
Phillip: So, ironically, I feel that I experienced more burnout prior to starting this doctorate program.
Martin: Oh wow—
Phillip: Yeah [laughs]. And I think it’s because I kind of came into the game a little smarter. I gained a little bit more insight from other classmates, or other students who are already in the program ahead of me. A lot of what they said was to find time for yourself, and make sure that you have a life outside of school. But, I definitely experienced burnout. And a lot of that was, signing up for all the programs that I was, you know, trying to get interviews at. So, at one point, I had two jobs. I was volunteering plus all my duties at church. And then plus all of the pre-requisite courses. So, it definitely piles up. But, like I said, ironically, after I started the program at NYT, I took a step back and gave myself more time outside of school. I prioritized that time for myself.
Martin: Right. What were some of those cautionary tales that your friends who were a couple of years ahead of you [told you]? Like, “Hey, if you don’t find time for yourself, this is what’s going to happen.” What were they telling you?
Phillip: Actually, I have a story. He was a kid in my actual class. I think we were maybe one week into Anatomy. He actually just ended up dropping out of my program, and we weren’t even one week into the class. It was Intro to Anatomy, and I think the reason why he ended up dropping it was because, one, this was our first exposure to a doctorate-level course, and then, two, just the way that the program is set up. It’s a summer session, so everything is sped up. So, what we would learn in three months, we’re learning in a month and a half. And, so, I guess he wasn’t ready for that. He didn’t mentally prepare himself, and he didn’t take the precautionary measures. And, unfortunately, he ended up dropping out of the program.
Martin: Wow. Can’t get that money back, eh?
Phillip: No, definitely not.
Martin: That’s brutal. I know, for myself, funny you mention the summer school. So, I was in my mid-20s, and we had just started volunteering and helping out a lot with INC Media, which is the media branch of the Church Of Christ. And we were able to really find ways in creating content and filming things for the Church.
I was at some dead-end job, but I said, “That’s fine. The job pays for my bills, but I do want to go back to school?” I finished a degree in Paralegal law, but I wanted to take another degree in Communications and Marketing, because in my head, I thought, whatever happens I’m going to want to keep helping out in INC Media, so I need to be educated in the things that I want to help out with, so that at least I have some sort of educational background. And at the same time that I got accepted into that course, the school told me, ”Unfortunately, your government funding was denied. You’re not going to be able to take that summer course,” and all that stuff. And I didn’t want to wait—I said, well I’m helping out the Church now. I need to learn now, so I want to do it now. And they said, “Well, you can try to get a job, but you can’t do both. You can’t get a full-time job, and then go to school full-time, especially in a summer semester where everything is condensed.” It’s a semester put into a month or two months. So, that was brutal. But I said, “You know what, I’m gonna do it. I gotta give this a shot.” So, I actually got a job, full-time—the job was 9-5 and the classes were during the day. So I went to every single professor, and I said, “I already paid for all of my classes, or I’m in the process of paying for them. If I just hand in the assignments and go to the mid-term and the final, is it okay if I miss all of the tutorials? You know, I’ll eat the participation percentage that you’re supposed to have in those tutorials, and if I submit everything that I’m supposed to submit, can I just do this?” And they asked, “Why would you do that?” I’m like, “Because I just need to graduate. I’ll figure it out.” They’re like, “So you’re going to teach yourself?” I said, “I’ll figure it out.” It was so important to me that I complete that portion of it and still be able to pay for it. I didn’t want to wait.
So, I remember, I would go to my new job in training. And I was passing out. She was explaining to me the process of my job—I have this sheet. I’m writing with my pen, and then my pen would slowly trail off the piece of paper, and I’m dozing off. And I’m like, “Oh man, did she realize that I was falling asleep as she’s explaining to me my new job?” And then, later on, they did a review, and they’re like, “Okay, great, you finished your training session.” And then at the bottom it says, “Martin exhibited signs of sleepiness and was falling asleep during training.” I was like, “Oh no.” But it worked out. It worked out. I stayed in my job and I was able to complete the course. I was able to graduate with that Bachelor’s Degree in Communications. But it doesn’t always have to be that way. You know, there are people out there who are like, “Oh well, Phillip was able to figure it out…and Martin and Shannon.”
Brother Richie, you know, does it always have to be that way? Does everybody have to throw themselves in it, and be like, “Oh, I’ll figure it out, and if I have to not sleep and if I have to burn out, then I have to burn out.” Is that really the best way to do it?
Brother Richie: There are times when we do get burned out. But as we’re discussing how to balance everything, everybody has so many responsibilities that they’re trying to cram together…
Martin: That’s true.
Brother Richie: And there’s really only so much that we can do. There’s only X amount of time—There’s only 24 hours in the day, so there’s only so much we can do. Phillip mentioned you have to prioritize. If you can’t do everything, what are the important things that you have to get to. So if you are going to get burned out—there are some that they do get burned out because that’s the only choice that they have, or there are some that do get burned out because that’s a choice they made. That’s the situation that they made for themselves. To make sure that we are balanced—the ambition that we have, the life that we want—there’s always guidelines on how to achieve that. We read earlier that there’s a proper time for everything. Allow me to read this in I Thessalonians 4:11. The advice coming from the Bible, it says:
Try your best to live quietly. Mind your own business and to work hard just as we taught you to do.
[I Thessalonians 4:11]
There’s advice for us, so that the life that we have, we will be able to get to everything that we need. It says, try our best to live quietly, live a humble life. We don’t need everything that we see, because we will get burned out if we’re everywhere, or we need everything. There are some times when we may see others—what they do, what they have, and that’s also a desire that we have as well. But the Bible says, make sure that we mind our own business; we live quietly. And this is something that—it might be just a generalization—this is something that people don’t want to do, that’s why technology is helping that. They don’t want to work hard when it starts to become difficult—some people aren’t used to that. Have you guys heard of the term, “work smarter, not harder.” That’s not half bad, because it’s only half true. You know, work smarter—great—but we cannot not work hard.
Brother Richie: We have to work hard because that’s the biblical truth, that we should work hard. So when it does become difficult, we keep going, we endure, we plow through, but we make sure that what we’re working hard at is not something that we shouldn’t put our focus in. We have our desires, we have our ambition—we keep mentioning technology because that was the first article that we heard—
Brother Richie: Many might not want to miss out on the latest thing. I think there’s a term for that, right?
Martin: FOMO. Fear of…
Brother Richie: Fear of missing out. So they want to be everywhere? You will get burned out that way. Technology is fine. It’s not wrong, but we have to use it properly. In fact, one more comes to mind that can help us. Here in I Corinthians 7:31. Those things that are being developed, that is being used by the world, the Bible says—
Those who use the things of the world should not become all wrapped up in them. The world as it is now, exists, is passing away.
[1 Corinthians 7:31]
So, that’s good advice for us to know. Live simply. Do our best to prioritize, and when we do burn out, it’s not because we boxed ourselves in a situation where we have no other choice. We do our best to handle everything. Just like what was mentioned earlier, we really prioritize.
Martin: Right. Is it safe to say also, in that earlier verse [where it says], try to live quietly—to not always have to complain about every single challenge or roadblock along the way? Because what I remember in almost all of my jobs, trying to progress in my career in the past and in school, sometimes you have to put your head down and do the work. You just have to grin and bear it and get through it.
Brother Richie: Yeah.
Martin: There’s no such thing as a workplace or situation in life where there are no challenges or struggles. So, to complain about every single thing and say, it’s never going to work out, I’m burning out, I have no time—but are you spending more time, more energy complaining or actually getting the work done? Is there something to that as well?
Brother Richie: Yes, definitely. If you’re going to do your best to live quietly right? You live a humble life.
Brother Richie: It’s not something where, if it’s not exactly how you want it, then something’s wrong. Whose fault is it? No. We always deal with what we have. It’s says work hard, and difficulties–that’s part of life. That is actually part of everyday life. So, it’s something that we should be accustomed to, should get used to. Maybe that might be the generational difference, right? Because, like we said, Millennial generation, it’s not that they are a certain way and no one else is that way. It’s just because of the times now, but there are those that lived in a time where maybe some of the conveniences weren’t around, so they did get used to things being not as convenient as it is now. And maybe, just maybe, that might be the gap where one is used to it being a certain way. Then, when it’s gone, they’re not used to it being that inconvenient.
Martin: Definitely. And I think a lot of people struggle with that, which brings us to another article from theblissfulmind.com, and it points to five reasons why some people kind of struggle with “Is this where my life should be? It’s not as convenient as I want it to be. How do I balance all of it?” And here are the five things that they state as the reason why you’re having a hard time. One, you haven’t defined what balance truly means to you. Two, you haven’t been practicing self-discipline. Three, you aren’t being consistent with your actions. Four, you don’t plan out your weekly schedule. And, five, you aren’t taking proper care of yourself. So, a lot of the things that we’ve already talked about, and definitely a lot of the things that the Bible verses have covered address a lot of these things. But, for Philip and Shannon, different career paths. What does balance mean to you guys, and how do you practice that self-discipline to make sure that you maintain that balance?
Phillip: So, I think that, just kind of first on your list, I think that you need to establish what is most important to you, understanding what your priorities are, and allotting enough time for those priorities. So, for us, it’s going to be Church, first and foremost. Our duties, and then it’s going to be school or work, what have you. And, if you have time, social interactions, and always make time for self-care. So, I think finding a balance where all of those things are met is what balance means to me. Brother Richie was talking about technology, and a lot of those needs can be delegated through technology. So, making use of technology with that I think could help. 20 years ago, if you wanted to hang out with friends, the only way you could really do it was you’d have to actually meet up in person. But now you can easily FaceTime or text, so I think that’s one way you can save time and fill that social interaction need, and set aside time for yourself. Even with TV, you would have to wait a certain time to watch a certain show, but now Netflix or HBO Go, or whatever, it is just so much more accessible.
Martin: It’s on demand.
Phillip: You can watch it on your own time. Exactly. So just utilizing technology in that way, and not abusing it, and setting aside time for what is really important for you, I think that’s how you can kind of find balance in life.
Martin: And, Shannon, having graduated and being able to work full time, what have you learned in finding that balance, what did that balance mean to you?
Shannon: For me, it was a struggle finding balance at first. But, ultimately, finding balance, it meant that my spiritual, my physical, and my mental state, my mental health was in line with each other. It was coherent. One wasn’t overpowering. I can plan out my whole day, but if that day is very stressful, I also understand that I need to take time away to make sure that my mental and my spiritual health isn’t going to be hindered or taken down from that busy schedule. And, of course, planning everything out. When it comes to balancing, I need to make sure I’m knowing my priorities. Knowing my priorities when it comes to balancing things is vital in knowing how much time you should spend towards something, and to limit yourself. Like everyone says, you just need to go full on, full force into it, and then you’ll get there. But it also comes with being able to learn when to stop, when to take a breather, when to understand that, okay, you’ve done enough, and you need to move onto something else. Sometimes you just need to focus on something else and then come back to your work. And being consistent with that mentality, that okay I’m working towards this. I’m making sure that all of these things are prioritized, and of course when it comes to meeting those deadlines. But also understanding that, okay, once I meet those deadlines, make sure that I can also focus on the other things that I’ve set for myself. And I know that lately I’ve been seeing on social media, actually, a lot of women, a lot of millennials these days, I know that you guys have social media, where they’re all about “you know you need to take self-care, you need to take care of yourself.” Of course, that’s very important, but I feel like social media and the society, the amount of importance they put on self-care can get carried away. It’s important to take care of yourself, of course, I’m not saying to not take care of yourself. But there comes a point where you’re so focused on taking care of yourself that you’re not focused on the other priorities you have in life. There’s a lot of women who, okay, I need to take care of myself, and then it comes back, biting them in the back in the butt. Where, okay, I’m going to do retail therapy, or I’m going to get a message, I’m going to get a facial.
Martin: Oh I see I see.
Brother Richie: Retail therapy. That’s the first time I’ve heard that.
Martin: Guilty. Sorry.
Shannon: Also, understanding that there is a certain point where you take care of yourself, and taking care of yourself isn’t just your physical needs, but your spiritual and mental needs too. And that taking care of yourself shouldn’t be an excuse to not completing your work.
Martin: Great segue. It’s not just self-care in the material aspect. You don’t have to go out there, have some sort of commodity as a means of finding relief to the stresses in life. And that self-care always has to be associated with a monetary purchase of some sort of material good, right? So interesting to note because people who are listening right now might be thinking, “Hold on I’m in my 20’s, I’m trying to accomplish my goals. The articles earlier in this episode were talking about how we’re burning out. It’s hard to compete. And you’re telling me that your guests are successful because they’re prioritizing their spiritual needs?” Well, interestingly enough, if you go to Pew Research, they have a research study with regards to college students and their faith, and here is what that study yielded: 72% of college graduates believed religion was very important or somewhat important in their lives. 69% would attend a religious service at least once a week, or at least once or twice a month. And 51% would pray at least once during the day. So, Brother Richie, when we hear how Philip and Shannon and most members of the Church Of Christ who are trying to find balance as they try to carve out their own careers in this world, when they find their success and their balance by prioritizing their faith and their commitment to their responsibilities at church, and when we see the statistics that show that faith actually does play a key role in those who are trying to find success, what does that say?
Brother Richie: It’s actually very nice to hear that, with everything that’s happening with Philip and Shannon, they prioritized putting God first, putting their Church duties first, responsibilities when it comes to worshiping God. And it works out for them, that’s not only nice to hear, it’s a proof that what is written in the Bible is actually true. Because that’s the advice that is given because there are so many things that have to get done. Because there are so many worries that everyone has, like everyone is worried about making sure they have what they need. They have food on their table, they have clothes on their backs, they have clothes for their family. When you’re trying to prioritize all that, sometimes to many people, worshipping God, going to worship service, that’s on the back burner. But from what we are able to hear, that’s actually what is prioritized. Why is it that those that do that, they get what they need as well? Why is it that actually proves God’s words are true? Well, this is what is advised to us in Matthew 6:31-33. This is actually what the Lord Jesus Christ himself teaches. He says:
So don’t worry at all about having enough food or clothing. Why be like the heathen? For they take pride in all these things and they are deeply concerned about them. But your heavenly father already knows perfectly well that you need them, and he will give them to you if you give him first place in your life and live as he wants you to.
So, the truth of the matter is, if God is the priority, if we want to make sure that we’re living the way that he wants, everything that we need, we’ll get that as well because He will give it to us. In that priority list, if he’s number 1, he’s going to help us with number two, three, four, all the way down the list. That’s why, with all the other ways people can handle the different responsibilities, the stresses that they have, Shannon mentioned there are times it can be stressful, you have to learn, you have how to prioritize. There are those, what was that term that you used?
Shannon: Retail therapy.
Brother Richie: Retail therapy. Okay, I need to feel better. So ,I’m going to go buy some stuff. Is that basically what that is?
Brother Richie: Okay so there is a lot of people, because it is so easy to get what you want now a days, just like what Philip mentioned right, and that’s actually not bad. He was mentioning Netflix or HBO Go, you don’t have to wait for a show, you can watch it on your own. Technology is fine if you use it the right way. There is another way you can use technology, where it’s basically just what you want all the time, every time. In the article that was mentioned earlier, not having that self discipline, why is that dangerous? This is the danger that’s recorded here in Galatians 5:19, 21. It says:
It’s obvious what kind of life develops out of trying to get your own way all the time. Uncontrolled and uncontrollable addictions, ugly parodies of community, I could go own. This is isn’t the first time I warned you, you know. If you use your freedom this way, you will not inherit God’s kingdom.
[Galatians 5:19, 21]
That’s actually the danger of not being self-disciplined. If one is used to getting their way all the time, the danger is not only just in this life, it says that you’re going to be uncontrollable, and one would not inherit God’s kingdom or be saved on Judgment Day. So, that’s something that we really want to take into account. It’s not just what’s happening, how we can get what we want. It’s really that priority list. Once we have that priority list, once thats squared away, and that’s actually the right priority list, then technology can help. Technology can come in and help us get the right goals that we need. But we really have to be careful that it’s not always what we want, but we’re actually prioritizing as we read earlier, what does God want? And if we always aline ourselves with that, then we’re going to be balanced. We’ll be able to get everything important in our lives that we need to. Once we have our priority list, if we mix up our list, that’s when problems come about. I’ll give you an example. If you say work and family right, which one should go above which?
Brother Richie: Family. Right. So, family is prioritized over work. If you put work over family, you’re going to have a problem with your loved ones. It’s your family that comes first. Actually, that’s why you work. Okay, when it comes to work and leisure, which one should be the priority?
Brother Richie: Work. Right. If you put leisure over work, you’re going to have a problem. So, God should be number one, right? Under God, is the family that He has given us. Number 3 would be the work that he’s instructing us to do. Four, five, leisure, everything else. But if you mix that list up, you put God under family, you put God under work, you put family under leisure, you will run into problems. But if you can keep that list clear, and you can keep that clear and concise, and everything that you have to do, because we will come to conflicts, that’s just how this life is, there’s going to come a time where we’re going to have to choose. But if we always remember our priority list, the choices that we make will help us moving forward all the time.
Martin: Definitely. And just speaking for myself, the way that you explained it, Brother Richie, I thought was fantastic because when you go down that comparison, they’re all mutually exclusive of one another. Spending time with your family has nothing really necessarily to do with work. Going to work doesn’t have anything necessarily to do with leisure or self-care. But the great thing about prioritizing God and our faith, and making sure that we involve ourselves in the activities at Church, is that my family is there, and that I’m having a great time spending time and volunteering time and worshiping God at church. And for those asking “Well, what does that have to do with work?” For myself, learning and growing as a person reflects directly with the way that I perform and the way that I act, in the way that I advance in my career. Every moment of advance and of every interview where I got hired was a direct result of the things that I learned and the character that I became, and the character that I was to grow because of the teachings in the church.
Brother Richie: Right. If you will always have your priorities set, you will be one person. You will have that integrity. You’re not going to live a double life. You’re not going to be one way with certain people and another way with other people. You will just be you because it’s already set in your mind. It’s when that’s not set yet you know there are those that are kind of finding their way, they are kind of struggling with “Who am I? Which one should I be?”
Brother Richie: That’s what we want to help everyone understand. God, He’s going to help you, but you just have to make sure that He comes first. And when we say He comes first, all the instructions that He gave, because He gives instructions for everything. He gives instructions on how we should be with our families. How we should be at work. Even in school, when we study, a lot of times there are some that are hesitant to take on so much because they feel, and when I say take on so much, specifically like a church office or a church duty, because they feel like “I’m not going to be able to get to it. I’ve got too much stuff to do. I would hate for me to take it on and then it affects everything.” Not realizing that taking that on is going to help you in everything you have because that is what is going to keep you moving forward. That’s what’s going to keep you straight. When you take on more responsibilities in church, your office, you will keep hearing more of His words, which is going to always be the guide that you need when things are confusing. You recall, “Okay, wait a second what is it that I heard? What is it that I was taught?” And used that in coming up with decisions that one needs to make. There are many people that their focus on their goals. They have ambition, which is great. But there are times where they need to refocus, like the focus is in the wrong place. That’s why the Bible says give God first place. Let him be first, whatever He wants. Watch what happens.
Martin: Definitely. Philip, to what Brother Richie is saying, have you ever experienced where your colleagues your coworkers are like, “Wait a minute, you’re spending time at church?” But they’re noticing it positively? Like, “oh, wow, you actually spend time doing that, and that’s the reason why you’re able to do so well.”
Phillip: Yeah. A lot of my classmates know that every Wednesday I have to leave early, I can’t study with them because I have to perform for choir, and that Sundays I only have a certain amount of time in the afternoon because I’m at Church in the morning. And they kind of just say, “Oh, wow, you’re doing all of that in the midst of finals or whatever.” And they’re just surprised that I’m still able to kind of keep up with everything even with these other extra curricular activities.
Martin: Definitely. And Shannon, same for you? Any experiences where they’re like, “wait, you spend time at Church even though you have to do all this stuff?”
Shannon: Actually, my family has finally noticed. They’re not members but they finally noticed that, since joining the Church, my life has totally flipped and they’ve seen the change in me. And being able to have them see that in me is humbling because it sparks an interest about the teachings. It sparks their curiosity. “What is she doing? Why is this Church changing her life?”
Brother Richie: That is a beautiful thing when they haven’t heard anything, right? Have they observed the worship service or attended a Bible study?
Brother Richie: So, what’s great about that is they haven’t heard anything yet, and I know that there are many people that desire their family members to listen, to hear what they heard, so they could have the same opportunity to make the decisions based on the Bible. But just observing your progress, that makes them curious, what is it that is happening. Like, “What’s happening over there? I knew how you were before. How is it that you changed from this to that? And that is where you’ll have the opportunity to honestly say I’ll tell you exactly, I’ll show you, just come with me. Just listen.
Martin: 100% to that point and to Shannon’s experience, my dad when I was 16, I wanted to become a choir, and I wanted to be involved in the different Christian Family Organizations. And he wasn’t a member of the Church Of Christ, and he said to me, why are you spending so much time, you should be focused on school and work. You’re spending way too much time at that Church. And that was when I was 16, that was over 10 years ago, and now being able to be full time, and devoting my life to the Church, he saw a change, and he went from telling me you shouldn’t be volunteering your time and efforts in Church, to watching everything that I’ve done on incmedia.org, watching every episode of Stories of Faith, listening to the Heart & Soul podcast. Every time we go on an assignment, he’s looking forward to the stories of what happened when we go and we come back. And he eventually became a member of the Church Of Christ. So, it really is to what Shannon is saying, it’s definitely what Brother Richie is teaching. Prioritizing, and letting that be your actions speaking louder than words, it really does not only help you as a person, but the people around you to kind of see that there’s real value in putting God first.
Brother Richie: Right. And that’s why we really have to be careful in who we choose to have in our lives because, as we know, it’s very important to come up with a proper priority list. There are people in this world, they also have a priority list, but we don’t know what’s number one, two, three. Like we said, there’s only 24 hours in the day, and there might be some that, within their priority list, leisure might be the biggest part. Maybe going to a bar, that might be part of their priority list, and the Bible cautions us and tells us why we need to be careful who we choose. Let me read that first here in 1 Corinthians 15:33 and 58 and we’ll see what the advice of the Bible is. It says:
Don’t be misled, bad company corrupts good character. So then my friends, stand firm and ready. Keep busy always in your work for the Lord. Since you know that nothing that you do in the Lord’s service is ever useless.
[1 Corinthians 15:33, 38]
The advice is we have to be careful. It says don’t be misled, bad company ruins good character, so we do have to choose. So, who is it that we have around us? If we want to move forward, let’s make sure no one around us corrupts that forward thinking. And how is it that we should spend our time? It says, “stand firm and ready” from what we know, from what we’ve been taught, from what is written. And it says “Keep busy always in your work for the Lord.” That’s why, if we give more, if we’re busy, always there, none of that time is ever going to be wasted or useless. It says it’s never useless, and what we read earlier, it’s actually going to be for our benefit because God is going to give us what we need.
Martin: And so, I guess, the next question as we come to the end of our show is, “Well, where am I going to find good company?” Well, for our listeners who are not members of the Church Of Christ, we encourage you, go on our website incmedia.org and click Places of Worship. And there is a place of worship, a house of worship somewhere, where you’ll be able to meet members of the Church Of Christ, and be in good company, and be surrounded by those who are prioritizing God. We want to thank Philip and Shannon for coming on the show, despite their very busy schedules, to help us learn from their experiences, and hopefully to give motivation and hope to our listeners who are just trying to balance their adult lives. We want to thank Brother Richie Juatco most of all for providing spiritual guidance that has both spiritual but also practical value, and the things that we’re trying to tackle in life. Thank you so much, Brother Richie, and thank you to our listeners. We invite you to learn more about the Church Of Christ by going to incmedia.org. We have many events and activities that are of benefit and value to you to provide solace and peace during our daily struggles, especially when we’re in the worship services. Please follow our hashtag on Instagram, #heartandsoulconversations, to stay up to date with all things Heart & Soul. That’s it from us today. Hope we were able to help, hope were able to connect, and hope you’ll join us next time, ready to listen with all your heart and soul. Take care.