Saturday, March 30, 2013

Margin- Chapter 5

(A few friends and I are reading this book together. Each week we are reading one chapter. On Fridays, I am posting my comments, then giving them the opportunity to add their thoughts as well. If you would like to join us or simply find out more about the book, you can read about it here.)

Chapter 5: "The Pain of Overload"

- After "grumbling" about wanting the author to just get to the solution, I really enjoyed this chapter.  I wonder if it stood out to me because I have a problem dealing with overload.  I have found it interesting that different guys have seemed to really appreciate certain chapters.

- His basic premise of the chapter is that little things piles up in different areas and then overload us.  Once that overload occurs, we are less productive.  Implementing margin in our lives will protect us from overload and its damaging effects.

- I believe he is right that stress in a situation to a point aids in productivity.  I remember watching an interview with a football coach who had served in the Marine Corps.  He talked about learning there that his body could be pushed much farther than he thought.  (He then used that knowledge when coaching his team.)  The question that comes to my mind, then, is: How do we discern where that line is?  How do we know if adding stress will increase function (still going up on the human function curve) or if adding stress will take us toward burnout (going down on the human function curve)?

- He wrote, "Often we do not feel overload sneaking up on us.  We instead feel energized by the rapidity of events and the challenge of our full days." (Page 57)  I can relate to this.  When I have an empty day, I find it hard to get motivated to work ahead.  On the other hand, on a day like today in which I feel swarmed, I do feel the energy from all the events/work that need to take place.

- He discussed the different ways people respond to overload.  I think my tendency is the hostility that is directed inward.  "Having failed their own expectations and the expectations of others, they withdraw into a fog of gloom" (Page 58) is a good description of me at times.

- I thought his point about every person having a different level of involvement was very helpful. I know I need to learn to discern what God wants me to do and let others think what they will.  On the other hand, I see the need to give others the freedom to set their own level of involvement without the need for my approval.

- His section about the different types of overload we face was interesting to me.

- "In an attempt to squeeze more things in, we try to do two or three at the same time.  Activity overload takes away the pleasure of anticipation and the delight of reminiscence." (Page 60)  One of my growing pet peeves is taking pictures when family is together.  I have no problem with pictures, but often I feel we get so caught up in trying to preserve a memory, that we don't even have a chance to make memories.

- I do not understand how 186 different choices of breakfast cereal is ANY type of overload.  I strongly disagree with this illustration.

- "At this point, choice no longer liberates but debilitates." (Page 61)  I know I experience this.  If I have to buy a laptop, I'd rather there be 5 to choose from at 1 store/website rather than hundreds of models from dozens of companies with a myriad of options from a multitude of websites.  In some ways I would prefer the days where I contact a travel agent and they book my flight.  Instead, I feel the need to check dozens of websites to get the best fare.

- Does anybody read my notes?  I'm thinking you may just scroll down to the comment section and add your thoughts.

- I've heard statistics similar to it before, but when I read that the average tv is on for 55 hours a week, I shake my head.  To me, that illustrates why our country is headed the direction it is.  Moldova is not exempt.  When looking for apartments, people couldn't seem to understand why we would consider not having a tv.  (We ended up getting an apartment with tv and with cable, but that is another story for another time.)

- He asked a great question: "How does one define 'all that we can'?"  (Page 63)  "Doing all we can" sounds like a noble endeavor, but without some guiding principles, there would never be a place for rest, for peace, for family.  I have been challenged to define what "all I can" means for me.

- The point in guarding against overload isn't for us to lay around in a hammock sipping lemonade.  I appreciated his saying that there is a way for us to reserve strength for higher battles.  As believers and as preachers of the Gospel, there are many worthwhile battles, but often we give much of our strength to the multitude of relatively unimportant tasks.

- His statement that setting limits is an art means that it is not a science.  There isn't one way that works for everyone.  Each of us have to learn to set limits in our own lives.

I've had my say, what say you?

Discussion on Chapter 4
Discussion on Chapter 6


  1. -For years, I have asked myself why I cannot seem to "have it all together" and do more like some people. This chapter had a couple big "duhs" for me that was helpful. #1. "One can comfortably handle only so many details in his or her life. Exceeding this threshold will result in disorganization or frustration" (pg. 54). #2. Each of us has a different limit. "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" (pg. 59). I appreciated and agreed (and was convicted) by Jacob's comment on us just letting others think what they will as to us setting limits but also giving "others the freedom to set their own level of involvement." For some reason, these two big points in this chapter were a help to me.

    -"The camel was doing fine until.... Most times we seem to be bearing up fine under the heavy load, but then something snaps" (pg. 57). I had thought of overload more of a gradual falling apart, but I think the author had a great point here that the breaking point is usually sudden. We are pushing against overload until we can't push back and then we get mowed over. Nervous breakdowns are usually sudden.

    -"Activity overload takes away the pleasure of anticipation and the delight of reminiscence" (pg. 61). Over the past several years, I've found myself having a hard time focusing on the time I do spend with my children or even having a hard time relaxing enough to truly benefit from my times of rest or vacation. I am usually thinking about the things that need done and trying to work things out in my mind. Jacob, I so relate with your comment about taking pictures. I appreciate having the pictures in the end, but I have a hard time missing the experience itself as it is happening. (I guess that's where the Google Glass might come in handy... you can have both).

    -Loved the quote, "God did not create hurry." (pg. 62) - I think that was the first time I had heard of a Finnish proverb.

    -"Chronic overloading is not God's will. It is okay to draw a line" (pg. 64). This goes against society and even a lot of what is encouraged and expected among Christians.

    -"That our leaders should require of us an honest day's work is not disputed. But when they require overloading that destroys the worker, then they have exceeded the moral mandate for leadership" (pg.64). This applies to church leaders, too, in what they demand of the flock. Jacob and I have talked about this and wanting to keep this in mind with the future church planting.

    -Jacob, the choices aren't the overload... I think it is the prices now-a-days for cereal ;0)

    -What makes you think we don't read your notes?

    1. I don't think the cereal prices are overloaded ... at least not more so than anything else.

  2. The portion that stuck out to me was where he listed all the different kinds of overloads. Choice overload, technology overload, work overload, etc. I think he missed one - overload list overload. But really it shows that every area of our lives is affected by this. Everything is to the max, all out. Its not just work overload anymore, it truly is everything else. It made me wonder how much easier work would not seem to be too much if there wasn't so much overload in other areas.

    After reading the comments from you two, I realized that you took all my other thoughts. (Bro Jacob, nice try but next time try putting it in the middle of a paragraph to see if we just skim your notes.) :)

    1. Don't give Bro. Jacob any ideas on where to hide it next time. We are overloaded enough just reading the thing you know we will be doing the Bible Code on his comments to find the special message! :-)

  3. I agree with the gents who have posted before me and especially with Bro. Alan that between Bro. Jacob and Bro. David they basically covered everything in the chapter. And, yes, Jacob I DO read your comments too. :-)

    The thought that struck me most was dealing with establishing what our limits are. I think many times the bigger issue becomes we have committed ourselves to so many things in the flesh (things that we can SEE that need done) that the things of the Spirit (things we can't see) become viewed as overload. How many times do we pass up a witnessing opportunity because of something else we "have to get done." I am reminded of Jesus dealing with the woman at the well. He was not caught up in the need to go buy food and thus was available to meet the greater need of dealing with this woman's spiritual need. I believe the Devil has been content to see many Christians overloaded in the work of the ministry that the no longer make time for ministering to people at a moments notice. This has been a challenge to me to consider and evaluate in my own life.

    To clear up one other issue, cereal choice overload in the arctic is basically nonexistent. In Rankin I think we had about 8 choices.......IF they were in stock! :-)

    1. I bet the overall pace of life wasn't quite at the warp speed as American society too! :-)

    2. Very true, as you would have seen in your visit there as well. However, it was a blessing to have that "extra" time to be freed up for ministry opportunities that would come up.