Margins may be defined as “the space between your load and your limit.” The load represents the things that you carry every day. You reach a limit when you crack and go over the edge.
If you lived in a perfect world and had no problems at all, you wouldn’t need margins. But guess where you get the tolerance and patience for problems? It comes from the margins of your life.
Every single one of us needs margins because that is where character is developed. The margin contains the tolerance that we have for each other. Located in the margin are your mistakes — you can handle these errors because your slipups cut into your margin. But if you are on the edge, every little thing that someone does wrong pokes at you. Margins afford you plenty of “buffers” so you can handle the things that are going wrong.
It is the midst of the margins where you develop things like character and joy. If you possess no margins, you will never have joy because that’s where all the character resides. There is peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Where are all of those character qualities found? Yes, that’s right, in the margins of our lives. Our lives are fruitless when we lack these margins.
Here are some correct ways to increase our margins.
Develop a Great Attitude
Do you know that no one has been given an unalterable attitude? Every single person has been given an attitude that can increase in its value. You must be willing to develop a great attitude.
“Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant …” (Phil. 2:5-7).
Develop a Christ-like attitude. Jesus was so busy, but did you see Him getting flustered all the time? There is something about His perspective.
Jesus said we are to possess an attitude in ourselves that was also in Christ Jesus. Even though your plate may be somewhat full, you will find that you will have margins in there. If you’ve got a bad attitude, it eats up your batteries. But, if you’ve got a great attitude, it builds margins. In fact, it increases your margins.
“… the precious possession of a man is diligence” (Prov. 12:27).
The word “diligence” in its etymology comes from the word “daily.” It started with the word “daylight.”
The Bible is instructing us on how important it is, if we are going to build margins, to start earlier. Get up at an earlier time. Develop an ability to be diligent in getting up so that you can have your quiet time. Start a little earlier in planning. Start a little earlier in whatever you might need to do.
Fillers and Drainers
Each of us has an emotional reservoir. It’s like a big tank. Your emotional reservoir needs to be full. If you are running on empty or your emotions are low, then you are on the verge of an emotional breakdown because you have no emotional energy.
You need to know what drains your tank. There are certain things that will drain your tank and pull from you — you need to know what they are. When you don’t know what fills your tank, by default, you will be so involved in doing things that you are giving life away—giving energy away—and you are not filling your tank.
What happens is that sometimes, you cannot stop the drain because it’s just something you have to deal with. If that happens, you must make sure you fill the reservoir. Make sure the input is strong and filling you.
Think about what fills up your tank and write it down. If you can work these things into your week, this will help with the drain. Also write down what depletes your tank. It doesn’t necessarily need to be something that is wrong … it is just something that drains your tank.
I want to encourage you to build margins. It is such a crucial aspect of living. That is where character is built. Character is always built in the margins. Fruit always comes from the margins. If you have no margins, you will have a fruitless life.
Take the time to have a great attitude. Build it into your life. Also, start earlier. Know what fills your tank and what doesn’t.
Take Sabbath moments. Slow down. Don’t fill your plate so full that it doesn’t leave you time to just stop and get a soda by yourself and talk with Jesus.
Build margins into your life. I guarantee that, when you do, you will start to see character and fruitfulness coming to the surface.