Making Room for Margin

Margin. You may be hearing this word a lot. Sometimes you hear it in business talk, you hear it whenever financial information is being discussed. My co-host Bridget admits being old school, because she thinks of margin as the thin red lines that are on the side of notebook paper.

A couple of weeks ago at a conference, Mark Miller shared that successful leaders make the smart choice of having margin. To understand what Mark was talking about it might be best to realize what life looks like without margin. According to Dr. Richard Swenson, “marginless is being thirty minutes late to the doctor’s office because you were twenty minutes late out of the hairdresser’s because you were ten minutes late dropping the children off at school because the car ran out of gas two blocks from the gas station—and you forgot your purse.” Sound a little too familiar?

Mark challenged us to intentionally schedule time to Reflect, Assess, Think, Create, and Plan. He also said the bigger our dreams, vision, challenges, and opportunities, the more margin we need in our life. And as shocking as this may sound, time alone is when a leader adds the most to the organization, according to Mark.

Jesus lived life with margin

Even Jesus was intentional to create margin in his life. A great example of this is in Matthew 14:10-23 (ESV)

10 He (King Herod) sent and had John beheaded in the prison, 11 and his head was brought on a platter and given to the girl, and she brought it to her mother. 12 And his disciples came and took the body and buried it, and they went and told Jesus.

Jesus Feeds The Five Thousand

13 Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a desolate place by himself. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns. 14 When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick. 15 Now when it was evening, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a desolate place, and the day is now over; send the crowds away to go into the villages and buy food for themselves.” 16 But Jesus said, “They need not go away; you give them something to eat.” 17 They said to him, “We have only five loaves here and two fish.” 18 And he said, “Bring them here to me.” 19 Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass, and taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven and said a blessing. Then he broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. 20 And they all ate and were satisfied. And they took up twelve baskets full of the broken pieces left over. 21 And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children.

Jesus Walks on the Water

22 Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. 23 And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone

I imagine Jesus was weighed down by the grief of John The Baptist’s death. After all, he was Jesus’ cousin and the guy who baptized Jesus! However, the demands of the people didn’t stop. I wonder how this story would have played out had Jesus not been took time to recharge.

What does this look like for you

Like Jesus, you and I need margin in our life. It may mean saying one simple, but powerful word, No. Say “no” to things that are good so you can Yes to rest, refuel, plan, and dream! This has been a lesson that I’ve been learning for about 10 years now. I’m trying to get better at it. Maybe it looks like blocking out time on your calendar to reflect, assess, think, create, and plan. Whatever if looks like for you, I’d love to hear how you are creating margin in your life. Drop me an email!

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Derek Gregory