Monday, October 22, 2007

Why don't we have margin? (fourth in a series)

Diane and the kids and I were recently invited to go the beach for a weekend with two families that we have not hung out with in a long time, and everything in me wanted to go. I didn’t want to miss out on what is sure to be an awesome time; I feared not being included. But looking at the calendar, that weekend would be the fourth straight weekend for my family where one or all of us had at least one major event (more than four hours long), and the weekend after that I am scheduled to go on a retreat with our church youth group. And so we reluctantly said no. This was a big moment for us, choosing wisdom and what was best for us over fear, urgency, and what seemed very good.

Margin requires choice – this means turning off the TV or the computer and going to bed at a decent hour. It means stopping work even when there are things undone, trusting that they can be done tomorrow. It means saying no to perfectly good events and opportunities so that you can just be at home, reading or talking with a friend. It means doing without a "want" item so that there is room to bless others.

Margin can also be costly – working less means getting paid less which means having less stuff. Saying "no" means risking disappointing people or possibly missing out on something. Being quiet and still means we might have to actually deal with things that have long been stuffed down inside.

Margin is counter-cultural - when we have it, we feel like we are falling behind, as though we are less-significant. Everyone else is running at breakneck speed and seems to be finding life and joy in the things that fill their lives, and so we want to keep up.

Plus, for the Christian, having no margin seems so spiritual – who wouldn’t want to be busy for Jesus? Who isn’t impressed by the ministry leader who gives countless hours to the church? Shouldn’t we work hard for Jesus to show Him how thankful we are for all He has done for us (so the logic goes)?

But, returning to John 6, Jesus does not call us to feed all 5,000. He calls us to give Him what we have, and in His hands, our less is more than our striving could ever provide.

And I am finding that the benefits of margin far outweigh the costs, as margin gives space for relationship, vision, financial peace, and rest, all of which empower and impact the world for Christ in great ways. And talking about these benefits are where we are headed next.

1 comment:

Alex said...

great stuff here, bro. saying 'no' to much of anything in our overly-kinetic culture takes a lot of discipline. i especially think about your point of saying no simply to be available for quiet, not just to cram something else in...

i have to say that i'm thankful for my wife in this regard. she's just got a much more guarded approach to our schedule/time, so i just be sure to run all my extra stuff by her. she helps me to sort through what's really critical and what's just fluff.