We live in a time-crunched society, any time spent without immediate results seems wasteful. And if we’re not careful, we’ll neglect the need for personal margin.
To start with, we need to give a suitable definition for personal margin. For our purposes personal margin is simply time and energy spent for the purpose of taking care of yourself.
Often we become so preoccupied with what must get done and how much time we have left that we forget to care for ourselves. Our bodies are not equipped for continuous activity. We need rest and room for reflection. Additionally, we must leave breathing room for God-given opportunities the Lord brings our way.
Lets look at the example of weightlifting to get a better handle on this. When you are in the actual act of lifting weights, you are actually tearing down your muscle fibers and over the course of a workout, you actually become weaker. It is during the time of rest between times that you are lifting weights that the muscle fibers grow bigger and stronger and cause you to grow stronger than before you lifted weights. You actually get stronger while you are not lifting weights. If you tried to lift weights all the time and did not allow time for rest between workouts, you would do more harm than good and you would actually become weaker rather than stronger. Your muscles would eventually break down and you would no longer be able to lift weights anymore.
It is the same way with things we work on. If we do not allow ourselves periods of rest, we will reach a point of no return where we will be doing nothing productive at all. As we continue to work without periods of rest, we will find that our productivity will become less and less.
Jesus left a great example of this in the Gospel of Mark. After feeding the 5,000, the apostles were eager to tell Jesus of all they had accomplished, but He refocused them:
“The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to Him all that they had done and taught. He said to them, ‘Come away by yourselves to a remote place and rest for a while.’ For many people were coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat.”
If you look in the bible you will find that Jesus made a priority to take the time to rest. He would go off by Himself and spend time in prayer to His Dad. This allowed Him to refocus and gain the needed energy that He would need to continue with his ministry. If the most powerful human to ever walk this earth needed time to rest, it is foolish to think that we do not need the same.
When have you been so focused on the task at hand that you’ve forgotten to care for yourself? What were the results?
It’s in the margin—the down time—that we allow ourselves to rest, reflect, refuel, and reaffirm how God wants us to spend our lives.
What changes can you make to create margin in your life?
Obviously, what people do to relax and unwind is different for every person. You should try to do things that you enjoy. It is important that it is something that helps your mind and body get focused and refueled. Here are a couple of ideas for you:
- watching a movie
- riding horses
- listening/playing music
- working out
- talking with friends
- arts/crafts project
- mow the lawn
- work in the garden
- play a video game
- reorganize a room in your home
- go for a drive
- attend a sporting event
- reading the bible
There are blessings found in making the most of our time, for in doing so, we gain wisdom and joy. Life moves past us quickly, so use your time well.