Schedule Your Margin

Fall is exciting.

And yes, I get excited about fall partly because I enjoy football and flannel shirts and cool weather (but I’ll pass on the pumpkin spice-flavored everything).

Fall is also exciting because it is a new season - and I’m not just talking the position of the earth relative to the sun. Fall is exciting because there is so much momentum that comes with a new year of school, a new season of activities, a new time of ministry.

There is a lot of excitement here in the halls of the Grace Community Church facility with ministries ramping up after the slower summer season (check out the Upcoming Events page to sign up for things like Awana, Grouplink, and women’s Bible studies).

After taking the summer off from my seminary studies, my next class starts on Monday and I’m so excited that I have already started working on my first assignment. (Yes, I’m that student…)

I have already felt, however, how fast all of that excitement can translate into busyness overload.

There are so many things to be excited about and that means so many things to say ‘yes’ to and that means so much to fill the schedule.

But, if we’re not careful, all that busyness can get in the way of responding to God’s leading.

If every night of the week is accounted for, will you be able to take the time when your neighbor obviously needs a compassionate listening ear? If you are so busy that the minute you slow down you fall asleep, will you be able to muster the energy to get alone with God?

That’s a good thing about margin: it’s there for when something unexpected happens. Which is good, because God operates on his own schedule.

So how can we counteract the busyness of a new season and create margin?

A number of times I have heard the advice to “schedule your margin.”

I have to admit that, at first, I thought it sounded ridiculous. How can it be down time if you scheduled it?! But I have learned (the hard way) how good and necessary that advice is.

“Free time” doesn’t seem to stay free for long. It’s as if all the things vying for my time look at that unclaimed block of time and say ‘Oh, he’s not doing anything… Dibs! I get to fill that time!’

It takes intention to claim that open slot in the schedule for margin.

Maybe this looks like getting up a little extra early to start your day with Bible reading and prayer because you know the day will be too busy to fit it in later (pro tip: put your alarm clock across the room so you can’t turn it off and fall back to sleep). Maybe this looks like protecting your lunch break to be time to get outside and talk to God. Maybe this looks like limiting activities to only a couple nights a week so you can be free for spontaneous family and friend time.

Whatever it looks like for you, I want to challenge you to make scheduling margin a priority as you set your routine for this new season.

Be still. Savor the calm. And keep your eyes open for how God might drop into your lap opportunities to love the people around you.

I love you, Church!
Nathan Ehresman