Sunday, February 13, 2011

When writing on paper it’s important to leave blank space around the edges so the reader can focus easier on the words. This space is called margin. In printing jargon paper margin corresponds to the physical limits of the sheet. People are supposed to have margins too. In his book Margin Dr. Swenson states, “Margin is the space between our load and our limits.” It is what we hold in reserve for unanticipated situations. It’s the gap between rest and exhaustion. It’s the opposite of overload, and it’s hard to tell when we pass from margin to overload. Unfortunately, we don’t have a gauge, like a thermometer, to measure our margin level. Wouldn’t it be great to have a light indicator like the one on our dashboard that lights up and reads, “100% Full” or “Working at Capacity?”

Airplanes have a load capacity. When the load is greater than the power, it is overloaded and in danger of crashing. We have power that is made of our energy, skills, strength, faith, finances, and social supports. Our load includes our work, problems, obligations, debt, deadlines, commitments, and conflicts. When our load outweighs our power, we are headed for burnout and are living a marginless life.

Author and nationally recognized career coach, Marty Nemko, says, “The most successful people give 90%?” He says they are “in the moment, tackle their projects slowly but steadily, and don’t waste time worrying about what’s ahead. He says they have learned to store up emotional reserves so that they can develop relationship and enjoy work.

Isn’t it interesting that the leftover percentage of 90% is 10% - a tithe! Tithing our money, time, and talents to God would be a good step toward finding margin in our lives. We just have to determine what our priorities are.

When Jesus went to the home of Martha and Mary, he spoke about priorities.

38 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”
41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
Luke 10:38-42 (NIV)

Martha needed margin. She was consumed with many things, so she was overloaded and living beyond her capacity. Let’s know our capacity, identify our priorities, and learn to live in our margin.


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