Have you ever been restricted to one page? A letter. A resume. We type everything out and it spills onto a second page. So, we edit. Eliminate. But we just can’t seem to squeeze everything we want onto one page. So we adjust the margins. We shrink and squeeze them until we can successfully cram everything onto one page.
Our lives can feel this way too. Limited to one sheet. One life. 24 hours in a day. 7 days a week. Yet we try to cram as much as possible into our limited time.
If it doesn’t all fit, we decrease or eliminate our margins, much to our detriment. Without margins we run ourselves ragged. We burn out. No one can run at a sprint forever, but we push ourselves and we try.
God himself created margins. On the seventh day God rested (Genesis 2:2). He not only rested, but he blessed that day and made it holy because he rested (Genesis 2:3). God didn’t need rest, but he knew in our limitations we need rest, so he created, modeled, and blessed rest.
Jesus practiced margins. He only lived 33 years and only 3 of those were devoted to ministry. If I had the task of saving humanity and setting all things right in just 3 short years, I would be running myself ragged trying to cram as much as possible into that short time. Yet Jesus didn’t. He could have, but he chose not to.
He chose rest when he needed it, even when those around him didn’t. Remember the story of Jesus calming the storm (Mark 4:35-41)? While a storm was raging, we find his disciples panicking. But Jesus? He was sleeping. Margins.
Jesus continually stepped away from the crowds to spend time alone with God in prayer too (Luke 5:16). Margins.
On one occasion Jesus was approached by his host Martha complaining that her sister chose to sit at his feet while he taught rather than help with dinner prep. Jesus simply responded to Martha – Mary made the better choice (Luke 10:38-42).
Dinner can wait. Preparations can wait. Jesus was only there for a short time.
Relationships trump service no matter how great the service. Martha was literally serving Jesus and he told her it was better to just sit with him. Quality time spent with loved ones is more impactful than serving them. Margins.
I am sure we can relate to feeling like our lives have smaller margins than we would like. So, let’s add margins to our lives. We can begin by asking ourselves the following four questions & implementing 1 action-step:
- What do I need to accomplish today?
Get detailed. List what we need to accomplish in the order of importance. Then we start with the most pressing items on our list.
- What can only I do?
What must I accomplish today that only I can do? Conversely, what could someone else do? Maybe there is someone or somewhere we can outsource a certain task to gain some margins in our life. Then delegate. Delegate. Delegate.
- What are my priorities?
What is most important to us? Maybe it’s work, spending time with God, or our family. Whatever it may be, we determine our values and priorities so we can intentionally plan our days.
- What can I do today that refreshes me?
Maybe it is spending time reading, baking, exercising, Bible study or playing with our kids. Whatever it is, let’s set aside time to do what brings us joy.
- Set aside one day to rest.
Rest doesn’t necessarily mean sleep, but it could. Rest could simply be abstaining from something. Maybe we rest for a day from social media, devices, work, checking work emails, laundry, cooking, cleaning – you get the idea. Let’s take a day off and allow ourselves to rest, relax and enjoy life.
After we ask ourselves these questions and implement a day of rest, we can more effectively plan our days and add margins to our life. We might discover certain things kept coming up when we answered these questions. Good, this provides more clarity as we structure how we spend our time and energy.
As we practice intentionality planning our time, we might be surprised how our days fall into place. We might discover we are more refreshed, feel more of a sense of accomplishment, and are less tired or worn out when we intentionally order our day based upon our needs, delegation, priorities, refreshment, and rest.
Remember, we can’t do it all nor should we expect ourselves to. If we have this in mind when we plan our day, our day will feel like a win. Even when we don’t accomplish everything we set out to do.
Margins. We all need them. Let’s give ourselves the grace and freedom to say we can’t do and be everything to everyone all the time. And. That’s. Ok. Hey, if Jesus could practice margins – so can we!