Challenges to margin

When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field …
- from Leviticus 19:9

As we reflect on the Lord’s command to maintain margin in our lives, we immediately find three major challenges to maintaining margin.

1) The drift of our tribe

The people around us influence our margin. Attempts to “keep up with the Joneses” drain our spare time and extra money. Margin dies when we let those who have more and do more set the bar of our expectations for what life is supposed to look like. It takes counter-cultural work to maintain margin.

2) The desire for significance

Several years ago Alex exposed the myth that “Busy = Important.” Our search for significance drives us to max out our margins.

We feel the cost when we pull the brakes. Projects may not get done. Our kids may miss out on opportunities. We may lack some comforts.

The pain of pulling the brakes is magnified by our margin. Margin tells us we CAN answer extra email, we CAN sign our kids up for extra activities, and we CAN afford extra comfort. But the Lord challenges us to re-evaluate our capacity and to search for significance elsewhere.

3) The danger of the future

We don’t know what tomorrow will bring. Reaping to the edges of the field makes sense when the future is uncertain. Leaving food in the field today exposes you to the risk of going hungry tomorrow.

The practice of preserving margin comes with risk. The opportunities that we pass on today may never come around again. Preserving margin pushes us to admit that we can’t fully control our futures.

What other challenges do you see to the practice of preserving margin? What makes it difficult for you to refrain from “reaping to the edges of your fields”?

ps. There is also a challenge that comes with having “too much margin.” Some in our community have lost a job or a loved one, started empty-nesting or retired life, or are laid up with an illness. These seasons of forced margin can be very painful. We want you to know that we see you, love you, and pray for you.

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