Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Margin gives space for vision (seventh in a series)

A couple of weeks ago, one of my church’s pastors met with some of us who live in Glenwood. One thing he asked was, “What is your vision for ministry here?” And I had nothing to say. I was weary, overwhelmed, and honestly, it had been months since I had thought about having any vision for my neighborhood. Ironic, since in that span of time I had led a summer missions project here in Glenwood.

As we continued to talk, I realized that a major reason I had no answer for the vision question was that I had no time or space to think vision thoughts. For the most part, I was in survival mode, making it week to week and day to day. Remembering what “had to be done” was enough for my brain to handle.

Without margin, busyness and a full life can act like a fog, allowing us to see only a few steps ahead. The problem with living like this for long periods of time is that we spend our lives living reactively to whatever comes up, not thinking proactively in the long term. Instead of charting a new course, we just dodge ruts and potholes.

I believe that vision is important for everyone's life; it’s not just for business people who want to increase their bottom line or vocational ministers who are trying to hear from God. I think that God wants us to make time and space to hear from Him about our relationships and our purpose in life. Maybe He has more in mind for us than simply paying the bills and making life work. Maybe He has a special call for us in loving people in our neighborhood or work place. Maybe He has a call and a purpose for your family and your role in their lives. Vision helps us see beyond what is good to what is best.

Having vision gives us clarity about why we are here, where we are headed, and moves us to new places of partnership with God and dependence on Him, transforming a life of simply surviving into a life aiming at the building of God’s Kingdom in small and large ways, and margin gives space for us to hear God's voice in the vision-seeking process.


emily said...

I love these posts. John and I listened to Andy Stanley's talks on margin that I think you recommended and it has been on my mind a lot lately. Thanks for putting these thoughts into words for the rest of us...it really resonates with me.

Jeremy said...

well marsh, i'm glad to see that i'm not the only one that's blanked out when someone's asked me a question about vision.
i guess my question is do you ever have difficulty separating your own plans for life from vision for your life?

[and yea, i've decided to jump on the blog bandwagon]

much love

Marshall Benbow said...

Jeremy - first of all, welcome to blogging - that is exciting! i will have to add your blog to my google reader.

First I would say that your question deals a little bit more with calling than vision, it seems. Calling sort of deals with plans for life, and vision is more the specifics of how that calling plays out (at least according the mental definition that I am using)
Yeah, our plans vs God's plans can be tricky. I think that sometimes, though, we make it more complicated than it has to be. By that I mean I think we have a "knowing" in our gut as to what God is leading us to, but it doesn't always make sense or jive with our expectations or plans, so we hem and haw and rationalize and fight. Calling can be tricky, but I think passion plus conviction plus gifting can often equal calling, and once we have a calling, then God gives us vision as to how that calling plays itself out. For someone like you, studying architecture, a passion for inner city kids and your college degree could lead to a calling of living in a poor part of town and possibly designing affordable, efficient housing. Or you could just be a "regular" architect and ask God for vision for how to integrate that into the city. Make sense?

Also, aren't you missing a book on your book list? Classic Christianity anyone?

Marshall Benbow said...

Thanks, Emily, for your encouragement. It's interesting how much of this stuff on margin ties nicely into trusting Christ to be our life.