We’ve spent the last few weeks as a church talking about creating margin in our lives. We did it because God didn’t create us to be stressed out, maxed out and on the road to being burnt out. We also did it because mission requires margin. Generosity requires financial margin. Serving and investing in others requires margin in our schedules. Staying healthy as we pour ourselves out for the good of others requires emotional and relational margin. Where there’s no margin, there will be no mission.
Along the way, we’ve seen that margin is a heart issue well before it becomes a calendar, financial or relational issue. So, as we wrap up our focus on margin, I want to highlight the three heart issues we need to deal with in order to create margin in our lives.
We’ll never be able to create and defend margin if we allow the approval, opinions and expectations of others to form our identity. If we’ve given people control over our identity and value, it’s no wonder we give them control over our schedules and spending.
As followers of Jesus, our identity doesn’t come from others or even from ourselves. It comes from the One who loved us enough to die for us. “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.“(Gal. 2:20) Those word were written by Paul but they’re every bit as applicable to us as Jesus followers today. You are so loved that Jesus willingly died in your place on that cross. He gave Himself up for us so that He never has to give up on us. When we believe that, we become a new creation. Christ Himself lives in us. He’s our hope of glory, our source of strength and the One who calls us to a bold, beautiful life of freedom and faith.
You aren’t defined by other people’s hopes, dreams and expectations for you. You’re defined by God’s work for you.
One of the biggest margin killers in our hearts in FOMO (fear of missing out). We’re terrified we won’t get a date if we don’t go to the party; won’t get the promotion if we don’t go to the conference; won’t get the contract if we don’t take the call; won’t have any friends if we don’t go on the trip. We say yes to everything because we’re terrified of the consequences of saying no.
But when you bring Jesus into the mix, FOMO loses its grip on our hearts. “For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly.“(Ps. 84:11) God withholds no good thing from His children when they allow Him to determine their path.
The question is whether or not we’re asking Jesus to determine our path for us. This is where intimacy come in. We know God has told us that apart from Him we can do nothing (Jn. 15:5). We usually take that to mean we can’t do the thing we’ve already decided to do without God’s help. I’m learning more and more in my own life that it also means we shouldn’t do the deciding without God either.
Paul Tripp often talks about how the gospel shapes our lives “at street level” – meaning the seemingly small, mundane details of our lives. I’m convinced this is one of the greatest secrets in creating and defending margin in our lives. Prayerfully engaging Jesus in deciding how and where we spend our time gives us confidence that we’re not missing out. When He tells us to say no, it’s for our good. And when He tells us to say yes, it’s for our good. No more FOMO.
Creating and defending margin isn’t easy. It involves countless collisions between God’s plan for us and other people’s expectations of us. In Mark 1, we see Jesus actively resisting the demands of His disciples and the residents of an entire city. Margin doesn’t come easy.
And it doesn’t come without planning, without difficult conversations and without confronting our fears of missing out or disappointing others. This is where intentionality comes in for us.
My goal in leading us through this series wasn’t just to get us all feeling bad about our lack of margin, or to get us talking more about margin or even to get us wanting more margin. My prayer is that we will actually create more margin! So, what decisions do you need to make? Conversations do you need to have? Emails do you need to send?
I so want us as a church to be healthy and to be deeply engaged in the mission of God. Both require margin. For your sake and for the sake of a city desperate for the hope of Jesus, do the heart work necessary to create the margin that mission requires.