We Need Margin


marginI’ve been preparing for a new sermon series we are starting at Cornerstone this week. It seems that our society values people who live crazy, chaotic, overloaded lives. We simply don’t have margin in our life. Margin is the difference between our current load and our limits. It’s the extra space in life that we desire and need. When we don’t have margin, we become stressed and self-absorbed. Our focus turns inward and our relationships suffer. We are going to be spending the next five weeks at Cornerstone talking about the importance of building margin into our lives. For me, this is going to be an extremely tough series because this is an area of my life that is a huge struggle.

I am always rushing from one meeting to the next, and it seems that I always have too much to get done. I know pastors only work one day a week :-), but I am more busy now that I ever was working 50 hours a week as an engineer. So I’ll be learning with the church as we go through this series.

One of the books I have read is a book simply called Margin: Restoring Emotional, Physical, Financial, and Time Reserves to Overloaded Lives by Dr. Richard Swenson. It is an incredible book that I highly recommend. Here are just a few quotes that I have highlighted so far.

  • The American definition of happiness is, after all, “more than I have now,”
  • The social, emotional, and spiritual contributions to our well-being were, and continue to be, overlooked and underestimated.
  • When we have no margin and our limits have been exceeded; when we are besieged by stress and overload; when our relational life is ailing; when it seems the flood of events is beyond our control; then problems take on a different dimension. One at a time they are perhaps manageable. But they just won’t stand in line. Instead, they mound up suddenly and then bury us without warning.
  • “Researchers,” according to sociologist Alvin Toffler, “strongly agree on two basic principles: first, that man has limited capacity; and second, that overloading the system leads to serious breakdown of performance.”
  • Each of us needs to seek his or her own level of involvement and not let the standard be mandated by the often exorbitant expectations of others.
  • Fatigue overload—We are a tired society. Even our leisure is exhausting—54 percent of us admit we are more exhausted at the end of a vacation than at the beginning.
  • Margin grants freedom and permits rest. It nourishes both relationship and service. Spiritually, it allows availability for the purposes of God
  • Margin is the space between our load and our limits. It is the amount allowed beyond that which is needed. It is something held in reserve for contingencies or unanticipated situations. Margin is the gap between rest and exhaustion, the space between breathing freely and suffocating.
  • Actually, margin is not a spiritual necessity. But availability is. God expects us to be available for the needs of others. And without margin, each of us would have great difficulty guaranteeing availability. Instead, when God calls, He gets the busy signal.
  • We talk of no time, lack of time, not enough time, or being out of time. Trying to get more time, we borrow time only to incur a time debt and end up with even less time.
We need margin in our lives if we want to be able to recognize and seize the God-given opportunities to minister to others. So, do you have margin in your life? If this is something you struggle with, I invite you to join us at Cornerstone over the next five weeks. 

From the author

Margin is the space that once existed between ourselves and our limits. Today we use margin just to get by.

This book is for anyone who yearns for relief from the pressure of overload. The benefits can be good health, financial stability, fulfilling relationships, and availability for God’s purpose.

Reevaluate your priorities, determine the value of rest and simplicity in your life, and see where your identity really comes from.


I am a former design engineer who now pastors Cornerstone Community Church in Galax, Virginia. I'm passionate about following Jesus and I love technology. I've been married to Jennifer for 28 years, and we have three adult children.

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