Margin is what we define as time leadership. Ministry leaders are overwhelmed by their responsibilities and have little time for themselves or their family. God has given everyone enough time to do what He wants done. However, frequently they get caught up in the “tyranny of the urgent” and have no time left for the things that are the most important. Ministry couples are encouraged to put God first, their family second, and their ministry/work third. Often times this is difficult for them because they get number one and number three reversed. When this happens number two, their family, suffers.
An effective word picture to use is to talk about reading a book. If a book has no margin it is very difficult to read. We lose our place and can become lost. It is far more enjoyable to read a book that has a defined margin. A good question to ask is; “Are you being oppressed by your time management (margin)?” Oppression is defined as: to inflict stress, to be a source of worry, stress, or trouble to somebody, and dominate harshly; to subject a person or a people to a harsh or cruel form of domination.
God has given us a great gift: free will. It is that gift that allows us to make choices, both good and bad. God has also given each of us the same amount of minutes and hours in a day. So our challenge is: how do we make choices that are God honoring? Too often we see couples that think they are doing God’s will by cramming way to much into a days schedule. There is no margin in their life and they never allow themselves to slow down and rest. Some fool themselves by thinking they will catch up on their days off or on vacation. However, they rarely have that happen because they just don’t want to (or think they can’t) take the time off. They are working at a sprinters pace in a marathon career. They never have enough time to plan and they have not learned that small but mighty word: “No.” The visual used for this crazyness is that they have an alligator mouth with the digestive system of a hummingbird. They bite off more than they can eliminate.
God wants our best not our most. Even Jesus would go away to fast, rest and pray. Many ministry leaders have admitted that they are just too busy doing God’s work and have reduced or eliminated their prayer life. This may sounds foolish but it is sadly true.
So who suffers? The answer is all of the above. The individual suffers from burn out, moral failure, etc. The spouse suffers because her husband is so busy doing God’s work that he isn’t spending time at home. The children suffer because he’s too involved with the church to be involved in their lives. Lastly, the congregation suffers because he is so overwhelmed that he is not being an effective pastor or leader.
3 questions to ponder:
- What is the difference between being responsible “to” your congregation and being responsible “for” your congregation?
- What on your “TO DO LIST” could be done by someone else?
- What could you do to make ½ of 1 degree more margin in your life?
2 books that are very helpful on this topic: