Abundant living is achieving balance in all aspects of life

And see that all these things are done in wisdom and order; for it is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength. And again, it is expedient that he should be diligent, that thereby he might win the prize. . . . - Mosiah 4:27.

Balancing personal and professional life is an age-old issue, but Latter-day Saints add the important element of Church service to their balancing act. Following are six vignettes of members who are striving for balance in Church, family and career - and who are achieving a measure of success:ANCHORAGE, ALASKA

It takes cooperation to make a family work, said Bishop D. Paul Smith of the Anchorage (Alaska) 5th Ward. "My family gains a sense of security and fulfillment because they are working together."

For this family of eight, including six children, the cooperation includes supporting each other in Church callings. To them, there is no separation of Church and family.

"I don't want my children to think that if you're involved in the Church, the family is excluded. On the contrary," Bishop Smith told the Church News, "I often involve my children. For example, sometimes we'll rake a yard or shovel a driveway for a family; my children see how the Church works in action."

This is not the first time Brother Smith has been a bishop. He served in this capacity in the Anchorage 6th Ward from 1977-81. "I was very program-oriented then. I don't do that now. I have learned to delegate to my counselors. This gives me more time to meet with members on a one-to-one basis and go in their homes."

Balancing Church and family with work must not be easy for Bishop Smith, who is vice president and controller for a hotel and who also owns a chain of travel agencies. But he also involves his family wherever he can in his work. His family includes his wife, Lyn; and children, Shannon, 19; Stephanie, 18; David, 15; Sean-Paul, 13; Jaimie-Lyn, 9; and Seth, 7.

"I made a conscious decision that I wanted my children to have the opportunity to see how their dad does in his work environment and to gain an appreciation for money. They come to the hotel and work." The children do such things as cleaning rooms and taking out trash.

The Smiths also work - and play - together at home. "Fridays, we do things as a family. Saturdays are chore days."

There are other times the Smiths commit to being together - including family scripture study and prayer, family home evening and dinner time.


It can be difficult to balance family with Church callings, but with faith, work and some sacrificing, the blessings of Church service are immeasurable, said Mary Ann Atkisson, Relief Society president of the Grand Rapids Michigan Stake.

"The thing that I have been so thrilled with in this assignment is to see that when we are given these callings, the Lord knows what we can do, and we are able to do things we had no idea we could do," Sister Atkisson explained.

She has served as stake Relief Society president for 21/2 years. She and her husband, Curtis, and their 16-year-old son, Mike, are members of the Muskegon Ward.

Although five of the Atkissons' six children are grown and living away from home, Sister Atkisson still has to work at balancing her stake calling with all that she does as a wife, a mother of a teenage son and as a docent at the Muskegon Museum of Art.

"I try to be home during the day when Mike is there. It's just as important for me to be home now as it was when there were 6," she remarked. "I have more time for other things now like volunteering at the museum, but it hasn't always been this way."

Members often hear about putting families before other responsibilities - even Church responsibilities, but having a family member serve in a busy calling can teach lessons in sacrifice, she noted.

"You have to put family first, but sometimes your family may have to learn how to sacrifice with you or in your behalf. It is mostly a sacrifice of time, especially with a larger family.

"I know Relief Society presidents who really wish they had more time to enjoy their children. Sometimes it's just a question of giving these few years to the Lord. We need to remember that the callings we have are just temporary."

The Atkissons have taught their children that they should choose a family or Church activity over other activities when conflicts arise. "This has really brought about loyalty to the Lord and to each other," she continued. "We have a really close family. Our children are eager and willing to work for each other, for the Church and for their fellowman, and that's been a real blessing." - Sheridan R. Sheffield


Sherry Johnson remembers as a little girl watching her parents serve in Church callings. "My mother was the stake Primary president, and my father was elders quorum president. We knew that service was important."

These childhood lessons have carried over into Sister Johnson's adult life. She is Primary president in the Walnut Hills Ward, Kearns Utah West Stake, and her husband, Kelly, is a high councilor. For them, cooperation is imperative in achieving a balanced Church, family and professional life.

"The worst time is the third Sunday of the month. That's because I have extra meetings, and it's the day my husband has to speak in a different ward. If he's speaking in a ward at the same time I have to go to correlation meeting, it's kind of frantic. But so far, it has worked out," Sister Johnson said.

She explained that her children, Cindy, 9; Eric, 6; Lisa, 5; and Kari, 3; have adjusted well. "On high council days, Cindy helps me get the other children ready for Church. The children get more and more adjusted every week," Sister Johnson related.

In speaking of balancing her responsbilities, she said, "I try to do as much as I can while the children are in school or when they're in bed, so during their waking hours and when they're home, I can devote time and attention to them."

This is not easy, considering she brings in extra income by doing taxes and licensing for diesel truck drivers. "I do this out of my home. I'm also an Avon lady. It all keeps me really busy."

Sister Johnson added that her husband helps her a lot. "He's really good. If I have a meeting, he'll just take over. When I have to set up for Primary activities, he's always willing to come and help."

Important to the unity of the Johnson family is family home evening. "We set aside Monday nights. We try to be together and have no phone calls."


David Duncan never realized how much time he wasted until he joined the Church. And now, despite having a Church calling added to his family and professional responsibilities, he believes he's better at managing his time.

"The reason I'm better able to handle the time constraints and requirements of Church, family and work," he said, "is because I realize the importance of these responsibilities."

Brother Duncan of the McLean 2nd Ward, McLean Virginia Stake, joined the Church in October 1990. His sons, Chris, 12; and Adam, 11; were baptized the following February. Brother Duncan is self-employed as a home builder. He also serves as Scoutmaster.

Although not LDS, his wife, Karan, is supportive of his involvement in the Church. They work as a team in nurturing their sons and working together as a family.

"Last year, she helped with the Scouting-for-Food Drive. She donated her day and drove the Scouts around," Brother Duncan related. "We also deliver telephone books for the telephone company. She donated time to drive all the Scouts around to drop off the books."

Brother Duncan and his wife have always realized the importance of family, but since joining the Church, he said he realizes even more that his sons are in their formative years and need his association and guidance. "I really have to focus my attention on my children," he said.

He also feels strongly about focusing attention on the Scouts. "We have children in the troop who don't have fathers. It's important I be there to listen to these kids.

"I have somewhat of a flexible schedule. I will often take time away from building, especially if my sons are having a hard time coping. You have to stop and sit down with them. The job will always be there.

"You don't find' time," Brother Duncan explained. "Find' is the wrong word. Find' has the connotation ofmaybe.' You have to make time."


Church service, family life and work complement each other as long as you keep a balance, said Stanley G. Crippen, a former bishop, who lives in the Wildomar Ward, Murrietta California Stake.

"If you don't keep a balance, that's when the guilt comes in. You feel you're not taking care of Church or family or you're neglecting your employer. If you look in the Church's general handbook, a bishop is counseled to not neglect his employer or his family."

Maintaining balance may not be easy for Brother Crippen, who is a high school teacher in psychology, government and history, and is also a part-time marriage, family and child therapist. He is also a speaker for the Church Educational System. He and his wife, Mary, are the parents of five children, Carrie, 18; Angela, 17; Katie, 13; Aimee, 9 and Cody, 4. Brother Crippen is ward Young Men president.

He said he has learned: "If you're doing well in your Church calling or in your career, you find it easier to get praise from outside individuals. The rewards really come later concerning the family."

For instance, Brother and Sister Crippen recently sent Chris on his mission to Washington and Carrie to BYU-Hawaii. Now is "pay day," as he put it. "Chris and Carrie are looking back and realizing what they had at home and are appreciating it more than when they were here."

In their Church service, Brother and Sister Crippen feel it is important to have the support of their children. "We're serving the Lord, and we point out to our children that the Lord recognizes the sacrifices that the family makes and blesses us accordingly. It's not just Dad's sacrifice or Mom's sacrifice."

Brother Crippen also emphasized that each family member's personal interests are important - even a thing as simple as reading a story to his youngest daughter.


Recently during Church services, Michel and Danielle Carter were admonished by their bishop - along with the rest of the ward - to lengthen their stride.

They followed his counsel not only spiritually, but also physically.

"It was funny because the day after that meeting, my husband and I started walking together," said Sister Carter. "We use the 15 minutes we walk together every day to exercise and to talk."

Michel Carter is president of the Montreal Quebec Stake. "When my wife and I are together," he added, "we recognize that our love for each other and for our children is growing. We enjoy being together more and more. That tells a lot about a balanced life. President Spencer W. Kimball counseled us to have an abundant life. I feel that's what we're living right now."

This is easier said than done for Pres. Carter, who is vice president of finance for a communications company with interests in television, radio and a weekly newspaper.

"You have to demonstrate to your employers your loyalty and hard work - within a reasonable time frame," he advised. "I often say, I am working so I can live, rather than living to work.' There's a necessity to have a balanced life. I have people ask me how I balance work and Church. I ask if they've explained to their employers about their membership in the Church and its attendant responsibilities. They say,No.' I reply, `Well, what are you waiting for?' "

He added that he encourages others to be open with co-workers and employers about Church responsibilities and seek their understanding.

In speaking of making time for family, Pres. Carter related that traditions bring them closer together. "The children know that family traditions are important. In following our family traditions, we take time together and get away from the usual busy schedule. The kids like that. It's dear to them. It builds unity and a sense of belonging."

Also important to the Carter family are Church callings. "My family has always been supportive of my calling," he said. "Whenever I visit the wards, a member of the family comes with me. Obviously, there are times when it's difficult, but we all love the Lord enough to set those times aside to work for Him."

Subscribe for free and get daily or weekly updates straight to your inbox
The three things you need to know everyday
Highlights from the last week to keep you informed