A Little Down Time

A Little Down Time:

(Click for Audio)

It’s not often that you take your “down time” seriously.

For many, this only means a busy trip to some far off place of entertainment, enjoyable if you have unlimited strength and stamina, the financial strength to spend some of that extra you’ve stored up, and are willing to come home tired.

For some, and I know this is partly me, I enjoy the time spent in doing what I want, as I want, when I want, and for however long I want.

This past week was an enjoyable “vacation” with family hanging around our domicile, and a few trips to family in Oregon. My bride is soaking up some Z’ssss this morning, playing catchup from the the busy few days before. And, this current week wraps up our only summertime vacation with a few tasks to accomplish here, before the life of busy creeps up and demands attention next week.

When you do not have the time to spend like others, then you must learn how to create zones and times in your daily life that gives you the necessary respite from your constant busy schedule.

I learned this years ago but never had the language to describe it properly. There have been years that these zones were only found on the drive to and from work, or after the kids went to bed, or a quiet walk at lunch with no one around I know – and I mean, no conversations, or being in the moment with someone else to focus on.

You may have your own focused word, but I like how Michael Hyatt describes it from a research he had done. Margins. His research included the writings of Richard Swenson, M.D., who writes:

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.

When he talks about gap, he’s not talking about a Mall shopping experience. It is that space between continuing on, or wiping out. It’s that gap that ensures an engine will run correctly, or will prevent it from even getting started. It’s knowing the correct setting that is required, having the tools necessary to set the gap, and then testing the results to ensure the gap has been correctly set…

I’ve bought Swenson’s book, and the audio version also, and am listening to it as I work throughout the day…when I have some margin time to listen to it!

To truly enjoy your “down time” you have to know your load limits.

Manufacturers test their products to see how much load, or stress, they can take and publish the limits so you will know not to exceed the stresses that they have been tested for.

You and I only know these limits for ourselves from trial and error. When we exceed the limits, the results are often a “crash and burn”. We’ve all experienced it. We’ve overwhelmed our load limits, and without some scheduled down time, or margins, we become unhinged.

What I’ve truly learned, to protect my margins there are times I must simply say “No” to some requested task or event. It’s a difficult thing to do, at first, but later you realize the value of protecting yourself from your load limits. Some call this “burning the candle at both ends” and we know this means we extinguish ourselves too quickly.

I wonder, did this every happen to Jesus? Did he ever protect his humanity from overload? After all, there were days that everyone demanded his focus. How do you protect yourself from this level of commitment? He learned not to over extend his humanity, and thus, teaches us how important it is to choose our commitment wisely.

We do find a number of times that he refused to get involved in some local event so that he could continue his mission further.

  1. At the beginning of his ministry, we find him moving to the next village even when the continued need was great where he had just been. Sometimes, you know your mission is greater than the need of a single place. (Mark 1:34-38)
  2. Later, we find him refusing to get involved in a personal dispute. Though this may seem a stretch, he does make it clear that this is not where he will focus his attention. Getting involved is acquiescing to the local demand, and again, he moves on. (Luke 12:13-15)
  3. Again, we find him refusing to do a miracle he has done previously, telling people to have faith and work for the things that have eternal value. They were only looking to enjoy a single event, and did not have the larger picture in mind. (John 6:26-27)

Each time he defines his territory, his margin, his gap, He identifies his load limits and stress load, and says “No” to the demands. It’s not that he could not have done any of these things, but I’ve learned another valuable lesson in life – continually give in to the demands or requests, and eventually you will be seen as the sole supplier, you know, that pay day loan that supplies your needs in your darkest hour – and all those others that are hanging on are simply looking for a hand-out. Believe me, they are there, too!

Now. Remember.
You get to set your margins.
Define your load limits.
Set the gap in your spark plug so your engine will run correctly.
Choose how to spend and be spent.

Last week, after Sunday service, we stopped by a local store to pick up some things. There was a man with a sign indicating he needed some money. Not unusual for the place, but what was unusual? He was clean cut, and from another cultural area not necessarily from this country, and he had his family with him. They all looked embarrassed to be found in such a predicament.  After sharing my message that day where Apostle Paul wrote he was willing to spend and be spent for the church (2 Corinthians 12:15), I felt a prompting in my heart to give, knowing that it could be given in return as Jesus taught (Luke 6:38), or to simply give knowing I will never see that blessing again.

I made the turn past the family standing on the corner, there was a long line of traffic behind me, circled back through the parking lot and shared of my blessings with him. In Jesus name, I prayed that there would be some good and comfort for this family in need.

Margins. Load limits. Stress loads. Gaps. We all need them to protect us from the overwhelming walk through life. Just remember. Margins should include keeping some financial stash for the rainy days, as well as the times you step away and simply recoup.