Setting Life Margins Will Help Simplify Life


Without setting margins, my typing would result in a jumbled mess.

In a post last week, I encouraged you to set margins in your daily routine. I think our life margins are more important than our typing margins. Without them, we will make a jumbled mess of our lives.

When writing, margins provide structure and aesthetic coherence. They keep us from scattering words all over the page in rambling fashion. Margins provide the perspective into which we place our thoughts in the medium of words.

The same holds true in life. Margins help us view our lives through the proper perspective. Without margins, our lives tend to make less sense, and more resemble a mass of disjointed coincidences and unrelated circumstances.

Types of Margins

A life margin is intentional time we set aside to rest, reflect, and renew spiritually, mentally, and physically. We need several different types of life margins.

Yearly Margins

Vacations are important times for individuals and families. We all need an extended time away from the daily routine. These yearly margins help us gain fresh perspective and renewed energy. I encourage you to get away for as long as you can at least one time a year.

It usually takes two or three of the first days of vacation to feel disengaged. Then we need two or three days at the end to prepare for reengagement. That is why I encourage you to get away for as long as possible. Provide as many days of total disengagement as possible.

Sadly, I must confess I usually don’t take all of the vacation time graciously allotted to me by my church. For the first time in a long time, I am this year. As part of that time, my family went to the beach for a week during Spring Break. I dare say it was the best week of the year!

Weekly Margins

God created the whole world in six days. The bible says that He “rested” on the seventh day. Did God get tired and need to rest? Of course not, He is all-powerful and never gets tired. The word translated in Genesis as rest simply means “to pause.” God provided an example we all should follow. Take at least one day a week to stop the normal routine. For Christians, we use that day to focus even more intently on God and our spiritual nourishment.

Because Sunday is far from a day off for pastors, I take Friday and Saturday as my weekly margin. Also this year, I have used some of my vacation time a day at the time to provide extra margin.

Daily Margins

I am afraid that for many of us, daily margins are the most neglected. A daily margin is intentional time at some point during the day.

That margin may be in the morning to prepare ourselves for the coming day. It could be during the day to evaluate where we are and how our day is progressing. Or our margin could be in the evenings, reflecting on our day and planning for an even better next day

Margin Intentionality

The key to all of these types of margins is intentionality. Margins do not occur naturally; we must set them. We have to schedule vacations. Also, we must jealously guard weekly days off. And daily margin times require disciplined desire or they will fall by the wayside.

Even Jesus recognized the value of margins. Mark 1:35 provides one of many accounts of time when Jesus went alone to pray. If Jesus saw the value of margins, how much more should we value the practice?

Intentionally establishing margin times will prevent us from marginal living.


For more on Jesus’ margin habit, read a previous blog I wrote titled Be Still

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