Years ago I listened to an interview with Richard Swenson, a Christian physician, about the concept of margin. There’s nothing uniquely Christian about the idea itself, but there is something very un-Christian about ignoring it. “Margin,” Swenson says, “is the space between our load and our limits” (69). Planning for margin means planning for the unplannable. It means we understand what’s possible for us as finite creatures and schedule for less than that.Read the rest.
Over the past year I’ve come to see that too often I plan no margin in my weeks, reverse margin actually. I look at my week and before any interruptions come or any new opportunities arise or any setbacks occur I already have no idea how I’m going to get everything done. I see the meetings I need to have, the sermons I need to prepare, the emails I need to write, the blogs I need to post, the projects I need to complete, the people I need to see and figure that if everything goes a little better than expected, I’ll be able to squeeze it all it in. But of course, there are no ideal weeks, and I end up with no margin to absorb the surprises. So I hunker down, get harried, and get busy. That’s all I can do in the moment because I didn’t plan better weeks before.
Busyness is like sin: kill it or it will be killing you. Most of us fall into a predictable pattern. We start to get overwhelmed by one or two big projects. Then we feel crushed by the daily grind. Then we despair of ever feeling at peace again and swear that something has to change. Then two weeks later life is more bearable, and we forget about our oath until the cycle starts all over again. What we don’t realize is that all the while, we’ve been a joyless wretch, snapping like a turtle and as personally engaging as a cat. When busyness goes after joy, it goes after everyone’s joy.
Books by Kevin DeYoung:
- The Hole in Our Holiness: Filling the Gap between Gospel Passion and the Pursuit of Godliness
- Just Do Something: A Liberating Approach to Finding God's Will
- What Is the Mission of the Church?: Making Sense of Social Justice, Shalom, and the Great Commission
- The Good News We Almost Forgot: Rediscovering the Gospel in a 16th Century Catechism
- Why We Love the Church: In Praise of Institutions and Organized Religion