Finding Balance: A Community Leader Perspective

4 minute read

By: Rabbi Dr. Reuven P. Bulka, C.M.; Archbishop of Gatineau Paul-André Durocher; and Imam Samy Metwally.

By Rabbi Dr. Reuven P. Bulka

‘Always’ is a Long Time: Balancing Being Available for Others with Being There for Oneself

Presumably, good governance is not the same as God governance. God governs, we follow. Looking back over my more than 50 years as a congregational Rabbi from a governance lens is quite challenging, as I am not accustomed to looking at clergy as Chair of the Board or in another such governance role. On the other hand, any position of leadership unavoidably has a governance component.

In some instances, it is governance in reverse – the clergy person is being governed by the situation or circumstance, and responding to it. It is ‘always’ being available in times of need and crisis, but even more than just physically available. It entails being fully present, alert, attentive, responsive, and helpful.

‘Always’ is a long time. Even when at rest, as we mortals need some time off, we are always available, like fire fighters or doctors, to answer the call. How does one avoid burnout from the incessant pressure? It is not easy, but it is also not impossible.

It all begins with having the right attitude to the inevitable challenges. The moment the challenges are seen as burdens is the moment when trouble lurks. Seeing the challenges as opportunities to help, and seeing the opportunities to help as meaningful life enhancers, goes a long way toward actually being helpful and effective.

Then, of course, there is the need to look after one's self in order to be on the ready. Personally, I exercise at least 4 times a week for a minimum of 160 minutes, and try to eat as responsibly as possible. No meat except for the Sabbath and holy days, no whisky ever, and wine again only on the Sabbath and during festivals. Chocolate – well, that is another matter!

For unwinding, I love to write, and have written close to 40 books. None of them are being made into movies, so no pressure!

But for re-charging the batteries, nothing beats spending time with my children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. They have been a great blessing.

Finally, having a wonderful congregation is much more critical to achieving balance than fishing or golfing. And unlike fishing or golfing, there is no need to exaggerate or embellish.

Rabbi Dr  Reuven P  Bulka

Par Archevêque Paul-André Durocher

"En tant qu’archevêque de Gatineau, je dois voir à la bonne marche d’une cinquantaine de paroisses dans l’Outaouais en plus de siéger sur divers comités provinciaux et fédéraux. Je dois préparer de nombreuses conférences, rédiger une abondance de textes, tenir ma page Facebook et ma correspondance à jour. Les imprévus viennent souvent bousculer mes jours de congé ou mes quelques semaines de vacances. Ouf! Comment trouver et garder l’équilibre à travers de tout cela?

"Pour moi, la réponse se trouve dans mes engagements eux-mêmes. Je dois découvrir dans chaque rencontre un moment de gratuité, dans chaque réunion un temps d’amitié, dans chaque célébration que je préside l’occasion de puiser à la Source qui donne sens à ma vie. Je me souviens d’un conseil reçu lorsque je me préparais à devenir prêtre : « Que tes engagements quotidiens soient eux-mêmes l’aliment qui nourrit ta méditation et ta prière. » Voilà la clé de mon équilibre.

"Le hic, c’est que les détails du travail viennent obscurcir le sens de mon engagement. Alors, je dois consciemment me retirer un instant pour me rappeler que, tout cela, je le fais par Amour. Alors, ma tâche devient plus douce, et mon fardeau, plus léger. Quand l’Amour nous porte, nous pouvons porter le poids des jours et les défis du temps. Revenir à l’essentiel, voilà ce qui me permet de garder l’équilibre. Quel est l’essentiel pour vous?


As archbishop of Gatineau, I have to ensure the smooth functioning of about fifty parishes in the Outaouais, as well as attend to various provincial and federal committees. I must prepare quite a few talks, on top of writing a number of texts and keeping my Facebook page and my correspondence up to date. Unexpected events often jostle my days off or my few weeks of vacation. Phew! How can I find and keep a semblance of equilibrium through this all?

For me, the answer lies in my commitments themselves. I must uncover in each meeting a moment of giftedness, in each encounter a time of friendship, in each celebration that I lead a return to the Source that gives meaning to my life. I remember one piece of advice I received as I was preparing to become a priest: "May your daily commitments be the food that nourishes your meditation and your prayer.” This the key to my balance.

Problems arise, however, when the details of work obscure the meaning of my commitment. Then, I must consciously withdraw for a moment to remind myself that everything I do, I do for Love. Then does my task becomes easy, and my burden, light. When Love carries us, we can bear the weight of days and the challenges of time. Going back to the essential, this is what keeps me in balance. What is essential for you?

Paul Andre 2

By Imam Samy Metwally

I was invited by the Institute on Governance to write a message about how I maintain balance in my life as I fulfill my responsibilities of leadership as Imam. There was one Companion to Prophet Mohamed (peace be upon him) who was performing a lot of acts of worship. When seeing him neglecting his family because of performing extra acts of worship, another companion gave him sincere advice, saying, “Your Lord has rights upon you, your self has rights upon you, and your family have rights upon you. So, give everyone his/her due rights.” Striking balance this way by doing my duties towards God, myself, my family, my community, and the community at large is a key to my daily serenity.

I am a strong supporter for the work of the IOG: this not for profit was retained by Global Affairs Canada to support and advise the Government of Iraq in its transition to a federated model of democracy. The IOG's work on good governance and balanced leadership is key to democracies today, and I thank both the Government of Canada and the IOG.

Samy Metwally

About the author

Institute on Governance

Institute on Governance

Founded in 1990, the Institute on Governance (IOG) is an independent, Canada-based, not-for-profit public interest institution with its head office in Ottawa and an office in Toronto. Our mission is ‘advancing better governance in the public interest,’ which we accomplish by exploring, developing and promoting the principles, standards and practices which underlie good governance in the public sphere, both in Canada and abroad.

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