Jonathan's Perspective  

Nov 13

'Margin'

In the business world, “margin” is what is left over after expenses. Increasing margin is the goal so that more can be invested in the company, in the workers, and in the clients. However, margin is not just for businesses, we need margin in our lives. We work so that we can rest and be refreshed for more productive, life-giving work. Without margin in our lives productivity plummets. With the advent of all the wonderful technology and smart phones, we now have the ability and impulse to fill every moment of our lives. Facebook, games, snapchat, and all the many other things that we do – while they may be fun – do not give us margin. Instead, our physical, emotional, and spiritual energy is used up so that we have no reserves. 

Margin is the unfilled, unplanned time by ourselves, with God and with others. Some people think unplanned time is unproductive or even boring. But, like I tell my kids when I take away their cell phones, “I am giving you the gift of boredom so that you can rest, unclutter your life, and find something creative to do.” I tell them that I do not care what they do with the time. They can sleep, read, draw, play music, pray-- anything they want. The point is that we can become creative rather than just be entertained when we give ourselves margin. We can experience the joy of doing something we love that is not required of us in any way. 

We all need margin in our lives. How do we find it? What can we do to increase it? Here are a few simple ideas: 1) Turn off and put up your cell phone for two hours each evening. Start with dinner with family or friends, and don’t pick it back up for two hours. There is nothing more important than family and personal rest. Everything else can wait for two hours. 2) Take time in the evening to focus on all the good things that happened in your day. We tend to focus on the difficulties we face, which continues to drain our emotional and mental energy. Instead, think about all the ways people contributed positively to you that day, and give thanks. This will increase your mental and emotional margin. 3) Sleep for ten hours for three days. I did this in a retreat setting; after a period when I was not getting much sleep. I was working overtime at the church, ferrying three children around, doing laundry, preparing meals, and working on my doctorate from 11:00 PM to 3:00 AM. When I went to the retreat and rested ten hours for three days, I was at my best; the most alert, good natured, easy going person I have ever been. While you probably will not sleep all that time, you can stay in bed resting, praying, delighting in the new day, thinking on scripture, etc. But don’t get out of bed for ten hours. I encourage you to practice this three-day routine the first weekend of the month, or at least once a quarter. 

When ministry was picking up and the crowds were pressing in on the disciples, Jesus said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” (Mark 6:32) Jesus is calling you to get some rest. Make it a point to rest physically, emotionally, and mentally. And never forget to rest daily in Jesus.


Blessings, 

Jonathan

 

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