Archives For Margin

I’m starting a series of posts that will talk about sermons topics I wish would be taught on a regular basis – every year or perhaps even every quarter. These are the key truths that seem to be the linchpin to unlocking vast treasures of understanding – at least the way I see it (it is my blog after all).

The first one will be no surprise to those that know me: MARGIN.

Margin, by definition, is extra space allocated for a particular reason. We see it in books, roads and even in how the chairs are arranged at church. Have you ever seen a book where the words ran right up to the edge of the paper? It’s maddening to try to read – your eye has an extremely hard time transitioning from one line to the next. Or been driving in a construction zone where the road narrows and there just isn’t much room between you and oncoming traffic? Or sat down to someone and felt like you were too close?

Principle One: The lack of margin requires that you pay extra attention to the edges.

I don’t desire to have our pastors teach on proper book formatting or how to properly space the chairs in the worship center, but the concept of margin exists in some very key areas of life:

  • Time
  • Finance
  • Morality
  • Energy (physical)

Margin in our schedule is probably the one that we just hear and shake our heads at and say, “Yep – I know, but I’m simply too busy.” We know that we are running too hard and are missing life as we hurry along. Strategies and principles of how to create margin in one’s schedule is needed.

Financial margin is another place where we know the good of it, but don’t have any idea how to achieve it. Unless you have a money tree that you haven’t planted, obtaining financial margin will require some very hard lifestyle choices that hurt on the front end, but bring freedom in the end.

Moral margin is not talked about much, but it is simply staying far away from situations that pull you into the deep weeds. We live in a world that is ruled by one who would love nothing more than to see you and I be pulled into something that takes us out of the game. Thinking strategically about this area is what we need help with.

Finally, margin with our physical energy is something that is tied to all other areas. We are either too busy or too stressed to do what is right for our physical bodies. Physiologically, our bodies need rest. When we sleep soundly, our body goes to work repairing all of the crap we do to it when we’re awake. If we either don’t get enough sleep or aren’t able to sleep deeply, that regenerative process can’t accomplish its goal. The results are numerous and affect our lifestyles greatly.

Margin isn’t just a concept to be admired from afar and it’s not a fairy tale either. It is a choice. A personal choice. A personal choice between life and death – literally in some cases and we need our spiritual leadership to lead by word and example to embrace the importance of margin.

Margin is simply putting space in one’s life that is left for God to fill as He sees fit. The margin-filled life is the key to experiencing God’s spontaneous nature and associated we go.


Steve —  1.21.2010 — Leave a comment

ImportantExamining one’s life for any length of time (in one sitting) is either a luxury reserved for vacation or the result of something gone wrong (more likely). One reason to go through this exercise is to make sure that you are spending your time on the best things instead of a collection of good things.

Being part of a large and vibrant church, opportunities to get involved are in great abundance because God is doing a ton of amazing things in the lives of His people. I’m glad the resources and organization are available for me to “plug in” and contribute. But there is a hidden trap there too. Let me explain.

Exclude church for a minute (you may anyway), life is full of causes, entertainment and obligations that eat our time…if we let them.  We can look up one day and wonder where the week, month or even year went. These are good things; worthy things to give our time to, but are the best things for me – based on how God made me?

Add church back in and it becomes quite clear that getting an overcrowded schedule is EASY…as easy as saying “Yes.” YES is fun and rewarding and appreciated…until the YES becomes a “how am I going to get it all done?” Then it becomes something different altogether. Guilt and disappointment start to reign in our minds when we can’t meet the obligations we so eagerly signed up for – fun becomes un-fun, un-rewarding and resented.

Want fun and fulfillment to mark your life again? The answer is simple, but the implementation is hard. It is found in just two letters: N, O. I know what you’re thinking. NO isn’t fun – it’s harsh and offensive and divisive…anything but fun. And you’re right. For whatever reason, we are wired to resist saying NO to people and “good” things until we are reminded of the  awful feeling of having too much task and not enough daylight.

Saying NO is the precursor to being able to say YES to the right things – the BEST things. It is also the best way to create pockets of time in your schedule that you can turn over to God and let Him have a say.

So, here’s the challenge: of all of the things you do and all of the obligations you have each week, what are the most valuable…not most important or hardest to do without or even hardest to get out of. Put everything on the table – nothing is safe. As that list is formed – ask yourself why you think those things are the most valuable. Develop an answer for all of them.

As you mull that over, think about your values. If you have a family, what are your family values. Here are a few areas to consider:

  • Financial: what is your belief about debt? savings? giving?
  • Spiritual: do you go to church? why do you go to church? why not? Do you value God’s Word as an integral part of how you live?
  • Marriage: how permanent is your marriage? How do you want to honor your mate?
  • Family: what character traits to you want to focus on in your children? What are the “non-negotiables” in your home? How many nights a week are we going to eat at the dinner table together?
  • Relationships: how close do you want to be with your parents? your siblings? your children?  your neighbors? your best friend?

Now marry the two lists together. Do the reasons you have for how you spend your time match the values you say you believe? If not, perhaps adjustments in the former list need to be made. You see, values don’t change – they are the core of who we are and are immune to our circumstance. Therefore, they should be the starting place once you start to say YES again after a time of saying NO.

Add back into your life the BEST things based on your personal and family values. Resist the temptation to deviate. Because in the end, it is your responsibility to use the time you have and make the most of it.

The Skit Guys have a video talking about this very process that may help bring some clarity.

YouTube Direct-What is God's Will