Thursday, July 5, 2012

Creating Margin in your Life


My wife called to tell me she had been in a wreck earlier in the day.  She first told me she was all right but said the car's front end wasn't so lucky.  It happened while she was driving out of our neighborhood going to work at 6:30 in the morning!  As she followed a flatbed truck, the truck driver suddenly slammed on his brakes to avoid a deer that had jumped out in front of him and my wife just couldn't stop in time and the car crashed into the back of the trailer.  The truck driver apologized profusely but it was't his fault.  It was my wife's fault because she was following too closely to the truck, not giving herself enough margin for a sudden stop or unexpected event.

I think most of us are guilty of following too close at times, and perhaps you are fortunate enough not to have an unexpected event that caused you to crash.  Yet I venture to say that even if we are careful drivers, we have margin issues in other areas of our lives.  It's the American way.  Our culture encourages us to live in all areas of life as if we have no limits. So we fill up our schedules and empty our bank accounts. We do as much as we can, spend as much as we can, and acquire as much as we can—all in an effort to get as much as we can out of life. It's as if the apple is handed over to us without a rulebook telling us which fruit we can and cannot eat.  Just eat anything and everything you want.  But the consequences like in the garden are often devastating.  

Two areas of our lives which face increasing demands by our culture to push the limits of what is healthy are the areas of finance and relationships.  Most Americans have little to no margin when it comes to money.  We live from paycheck to paycheck and a good percentage of Americans are in deep financial debt. The average credit card debt per cardholder is $5,100, and expected to increase to $6,500 by the end of the year.  1 in 10 consumers has more than 10 credit cards.  1 in 50 households carry more than $20,000 in credit card debt. That amounts to more than 2 million households.

And the same can be said about our relationships also.  With the internet opening up the world of porn to children and adults alike, with little to no restraints or boundaries, there is a real sexual health crisis for adults and teenagers.  One professional counselor told me that he is seeing more and more young males who have E.D. caused by over stimulation from porn and sexual activity.   This is only the tip of the iceberg of the emotional and physical problems caused by a failure to put any kind of governor on sexual activities.  

The alternative is to create boundaries and healthy margins in all areas of life so that we can live productive lives and be prepared to handle the curves that life can throw us.  It is a simple concept straight from the Bible, as simple as keeping a safe distance from the car in front of you.  Yet, so many of us violate these basic principles and find ourselves in a heap of trouble whether it be with our finances, time management, health or relationships.

A great resource on creating margins is Andy Stanley's series for small groups called Taking it To The Limit.  In this study Stanley shows us how to create margin so that we can live healthy lives and be more prepared to handle the curves that life can throw us.  He explains that the secret to getting more out of life is not doing more, but doing less. 

Questions to consider:
Do you have an emergency fund of at least a year's salary?
Do you get at least seven hours of sleep each night?
Do you find yourself always late to appointments?  Do you create enough margin so that you'll be on time even if there are unexpected delays?

Do you have an emergency fund of at least a year's salary?
Do you get at least seven hours of sleep each night?
Do you find yourself always late to appointments?  Do you create enough margin so that you'll be on time even if there are unexpected delays?

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