What’s This “Margin” Thing?


God didn't design us to live at the edge; He designed us to have margin.

I am not at ease, nor am I quiet; I have no rest, but trouble comes—Job 3:26

Men are drawn toward extremes. We’re wired to want to explore the edges of things. Going to extremes can be good, of course. In most situations, though, it’s a hazardous practice. Prevailing culture tells us “work longer hours,” “sleep less,” “spend more money, and stretch to a better lifestyle.” Such messages are harmful and aren’t from God. He didn’t design us to live (for sustained periods, at least) with extreme calendars, extreme finances, extreme approaches to work or physical health, or extreme pastimes/interests. God designed us to have margin.

Margin is the amount of time, money, whatever, we hold back—in order to maintain productivity, stability, integrity. “Calendar margin” means reserving time for rest, for solitude, for other people. “Financial margin” means living within our means, even changing our lifestyles, if necessary. “Work margin” means focusing on what we’re made to do, and excluding the things we aren’t.

Margin is a gift. While we can convince ourselves that there are valuable things in extremes (more status, more comfort), there are things much more valuable in margin: relationships, restoration, joy, peace. These are vital inputs to healthy, productive lives, and things we must have sufficient quantities if we’re going to overflow love and provide protection to others. We care for others by caring of ourselves. That’s true masculinity—not some put-on, fear-driven, self-centered counterfeit.

Okay, so what do we do?

What’s the culture of your city or your workplace? What’s it calling you to? Hurry? Worry? Stress? God’s calling you to a life of “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23). Can you admit you’re built for these, built for margin? Now, can you make the wrenching, practical decisions that’ll conform your life to God’s design, not the world’s? Commit today, brother, to one concrete, measurable change.


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