A Year of Margin

A Year of Margin

Happy New Year!  It’s 2017 and anything is possible… right?  I realize January is an artificial reset forced upon us by the oppressive rule of the Gregorian calendar, but it has its benefits.  For one, we are given a sense of a clean slate.  We have a chance for a new start.  Last year may have been a rough year, but hope arises that this new year could be amazing, or at least an improvement.  There’s a lot of changes to make, habits to break, or start, weight to lose, etc., but before I think about all of those things, I want to start with priority number one.  Every year in January, I’m reminded of an important Biblical principal that I’ve committed myself to following.  It’s the principal of margin.

The Bible has a lot to say about margin.  In the Levitical law (the laws God put into place for the nation of Israel), God laid out a very detailed set of guidelines for how people should conduct their lives.  In them we find God’s wisdom for how to navigate the pressures of the high paced culture that exists today.


The Biblical concept of a Sabbath helped contribute to what we now call the weekend.  It was a day that was to be set apart as a day of rest.  The main function of the day was to stop working, slow down, and smell the coffee so to speak.  It was a day that was to be set apart as holy unto the Lord.  Contrary to popular opinion, this doesn’t necessarily mean that one should spend all day in church, or in prayer.  Those are very beneficial things to do on one’s Sabbath day, but an extreme amount of piety may fly in the face of the original intention of Sabbath.  After all, what are we to make of the Biblical principle of receiving our daily bread?  It’s highly unlikely God would instruct us to pack all of our spiritual practices into one day in order to blitz Him once a week on Sundays.  How else should we utilize the Sabbath?

The Sabbath should be understood primarily as a day of rest from work.  It’s a day for us to put the brakes on being productive and simply find fulfillment in being.  It’s an opportunity for us to become aware of the fact that our value in life does not consist solely from what we are able to produce.  That’s a refreshing idea in our day and age.  The Sabbath then is about creating margin in my work life so that I, literally, don’t work myself to death.

Let’s use an automotive analogy.  When I first learned how to drive a car with a stick shift, I quickly caught on to the danger of “redlining” an engine.  You simply can’t run the car at maximum capacity all the time without eventually blowing up the engine.  Human beings are the same way.  If we don’t find the time to rest our bodies/our minds, we will become overloaded and breakdown.  You and I need to develop margin in our work lives.

Here’s some ways to achieve margin in your work life:

  • Find time in every day to take a break.  Exercise, read your Bible, pray, or check the waiver wire for your Fantasy Football league (Your welcome).
  • Designate one day out of every week as a day off from work.  Ignore emails and phone messages and just relax.
  • Get away once a year.  Take a week and get out of town.  It doesn’t have to be an exotic location, but you need an extended period of time away from your responsibilities to rest.