Creating Margin

Last weekend I sat through a wonderful sermon at our Parkway campus that focused on the importance of margin—developing space in our lives so that we are better able to step into opportunities God has for us. Unfortunately, we often function at our limits without margin.

When we feel overwhelmed and tapped out, the first thing we need to do is slow down, reflect, and recalibrate. In other words, follow the old adage, “If you find yourself in a hole, the first rule is, stop digging.” Then, we must reflect on questions like these…

1. What am I doing that I can stop doing?

Oftentimes, we do things other people are completely capable of doing, but we refuse to release those things into their hands. This may be habit or because we think it’s just easier, or maybe we don’t want to be perceived as dumping on someone.

But Jesus modeled the importance of delegation and empowering others for ministry. Ephesians 4 reminds us as spiritual leaders that we are to empower other people and to share the workload. Not only does this help us, but it also helps other people, as long as we are not dumping on them. The bottom line is that sometimes we must slow down, write down all we are doing, and then assess what could be given to someone else and who that person should be.

2. Am I spending too much time on some things?

Many of us are driven perfectionists and people pleasers. As a result, sometimes we spend more time on tasks than necessary (e.g., excessive amounts of time crafting perfectly-worded emails). Because we do not trust ourselves and, if we’re honest, God, we end up spending crazy amounts of time doing things that could be done more quickly and efficiently. This is also true of conversations. While we don’t want to be curt or short with people, we can learn a lot from Twitter. Sometimes fewer words are better than many. 

3. What are the things only I can do?

We all have unique gifts to give and contributions to make. There are some things that only we can do or that we can do significantly better than others. We must spend more time doing those things and less time in secondary areas. That way, we can make our greatest contribution in the areas where we are most effective.

4. Is it well with my soul?

When we are running at capacity, the first thing that usually gets neglected is our spiritual life—our soul. We continue to run on life’s treadmill, never slowing down to hear what God is saying, to reflect on where we are, or to discern where God may be leading us. We must slow down and ask, How am I my doing spiritually? By reflecting on this question and by slowing down and listening carefully for God, we often find that the Lord will speak to us about how we can better manage our time and resources. One thing is certain—God rarely reveals Himself in the hectic, frantic pace of life because it's difficult for us to hear what the Spirit is saying when we are too busy to slow down and actually listen.