Thursday, May 16, 2013

Margin- Chapter 9

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 9: "Margin in Time"

- I don't feel this chapter was stuffed with profound, new truths.  I felt like much of it was just a good reminder.  However, by reading it and writing this post ahead of time (due to having a measure of time margin!) I feel I was able to think a little more and get a little deeper than just the surface.  As always- I look forward to reading your takeaways!

- I appreciated his thoughts on the importance of discretionary time.  I think we often see it as not important, or at least, less important than working time.  We would not dispute quiet time with God, but I think we often look negatively at other types of discretionary time.  Maybe it is because so many misuse discretionary time, and we don't want to be like them.

- I liked: "Where are the noises that tell us to slow down?" (Page 112)

- It is interesting to try imagine yourself without the constraints/demands of minutes and hours- where time is looked at in terms of days (or possibly sections divided by mealtimes!)  As I think about it, I think my Dad's routine may not be too far off that.  He has a few things he does at certain times, but he approaches his day with what he needs to get done, then he works on it.

- I think the clock and the light can be helpers, but I do see that I let them negatively affect me.  The light is probably the worst.  I stay up later at night than I should and as a consequence, I lose both physcial (via rest) and time margin.

- What decides what is a full week of work for us?  This question came to mind when reading about the American workweek.  Americans typically consider 40 hours a full week.  Have we adopted that without thinking it through?  Do we let that be our standard because of what men may think?  It seems I remember preachers being challenged to work at least 40 hours, if not more, so that the men he ministers to will not see him as lazy.  My argument is not for or against 40 hours being our standard.  It just hit me that I have adopted that in my mind as the pattern without thinking things through.  Maybe there could be a preacher who works only 30 hours, but then has more time to simply spend with God.

- "If we sit back and do nothing about it, next year at this time we'll have less time margin than we have right now."  (Page 116)  Time margin will not happen without purposeful decisions.

- He mentioned about multi-tasking invading our leisure time.  I have found the tendency for this myself.  Best example: trying to email while watching a ballgame.  Usually, I get more focused on the work and don't enjoy the leisure time.  In short, I lose enjoyment when I multitask.

- In talking about productivity in the workplace, he seemed to somewhat minimize the laziness of the workers.  I think there is more to it than he gave credit for.  My experience in the secular workplace has not been that people are diligent workers for the time they are supposed to be there.  Usually, they were trying to get the minimum done without getting in trouble. 

- I learned that "Everything takes longer than it does" (page 121) shortly after we were married and I was responsible to fix things around the house.

- He suggested turning off the tv.  I doubt that is the biggest time waster among us.  So what is it?  For me, it would probably be checking email or looking up something on the internet.  Any confessions?

- I like the idea of disconnecting from all electronic devices (except maybe the Kindle) sometime when we take a couple of days off.  Any of you done that?

- He talked about having long-term vision.  I think if we have this, it will greatly aid something else he talked about: saying "No."  With a plan it is easier to see if an activity fits within that plan or if it will distract from them.

- I agree that busyness robs the pleasure of anticipation. 

- His "prescriptions" were all good reminders, but I think the most practical for me is to create the buffer zones.  I don't want to "waste" time being somewhere too early, so I keep working until ... I'm nearly running late.  (Viola's the same.  In this area, we are not good for each other!)  That buffer will add quality to the activities before and after the buffer.

- Next chapter will be good for one of the fellows.  (He's about to fork out a bunch of money and lose some of his financial margin!)

I've had my say, what say you?

Discussion on Chapter 8
Discussion on Chapter 10


  1. Another good chapter. Have to agree with what you said Bro Jacob, nothing earth shattering, just basic reminders of common sense.

    I have not taken a technology break but I am really thinking about it. Makes me think of how God worked in my life during teen camp. There is something to getting away from technology for a time.

    The phrase that really caught me was "We jump at the alarm of a Seiko but sleep through the call of the Almighty." Ouch. But it is true. This is a huge battle that churches face, people are getting up in the middle of a message to take a phone call. We actually had a man take a call in the auditorium on a Wednesday night.

    I think another good takeaway was Rx 12: Don't rush wisdom. We live in a very fast paced, decide now society. And sometimes the wisdom that is needed is going to take a lot more time than we want it to. God often teaches us patience by seeing if we will be still and wait on Him.

  2. A few additional thoughts:
    1. College teaches you to crunch a ton of things into a small amount of time. If you try to do a great job at just your schoolwork, your job, and your church service opportunities, you are very full timewise. Some people get married and get into ministry, and think they can maintain a college schedule into infinity.
    2. Time for God is often scheduled into our life. Every relationship needs scheduled time, but it also needs the spontaneous or the special extended time (scheduled or not). Often we limit our time with God to once a day. (Joshua 1 and Psalm 1 refer to multiple times a day with God.)
    3. "The marginless lifestyle and its resultant chronic time pressure are particularly devastating to our relationships: to self, to family, to others, to God." The priorities we claimed we hold to are displayed in how we use our time. Entertainment, relaxation, ministry, personal friends,...all of them have a place. It can be easy in ministry to let ministry eat into family or marriage time. Priorities must be fought for.
    4. "Societies that have the accelerator to the floor (with regard to schedule) are doomed to become God-less." Uh-oh.
    5. Planners and scheduling to not seem to me to be bad in and of themselves. It is how we use them. Are we flexible? Do we allow Spirit-guided "interruptions"?
    6. Rx3 won't help us much as we don't have tv. I am thankful my parents didn't have one either. However, internet can become just as bad!
    7. "living week-to-week is like a dot-to-dot life" guilty as charged!
    8. "Overloaded schedules are not the way to walk IN HIS STEPS" Christ was very busy at times, but he knew when to take a break. If our goal is to never be busy, we may not walk in his steps. Spirit-guidance is key.

    I guess my few thoughts became more than a few!

  3. Chapter 9: "Margin in Time"
    -Jacob, you mentioned the 40 hour work week as being the American standard. This has been a pondering of mine since I've been out of a "clock in, clock out job" since 2008. In one way, I appreciated being able to clock out and know I was done with that work for the day or the week (on Fridays). There was a sense of freedom and accomplishment, but there was a lack of flexibility with the schedule. Now the inverse is the case. I think a goal-oriented rather than time-oriented approach works best in my current context.

    -Jacob, loved the comment on "Everything takes longer than it does" and your application of it.

    -Jacob and John, I agree that internet, rather than tv, would be the time-eater for me, too.

    -Alan, camp is usually the only time I was completely "unplugged" from electronic devices. I've made the mistake of not doing so on family vacation and regretted it. Oh, the days when people would not come home to an inbox full of emails.

    -Ouch! Yes, we lost our financial margin but hope it will not be lost for nearly as long as those in the States when they buy a home. Paying for it in bills of 50 was much more painful to see and hand over than just writing a check or some other transfer. In a way, that helped me see the magnitude of the decision, financially.

    -John, I appreciated your point about not boxing our time with God into a schedule that cannot be extended.

    -Anyone else get a chuckle out of the fact that in 200 BC, someone was already "cursing the sundial"? (pg. 113). Boy, we've come a long way since that.

    - "I think I should not go far wrong if I asserted that the amount of genuine leisure available in a society is generally in inverse proportion to the amount of labor-saving machinery it employs." (E.F. Schumacher, pg.116). I can see truth to this.

    -I liked the idea of keeping a "to-do" list and a "to-don't" list (pg.122). Some of my most productive days depend upon saying "no" to demands, distractions, and desires.

    -"You Americans have all the watches, but we have all the time." (man from West Africa, pg. 125). - True, but we also have more options of what to do with our time, which leads to potential problems, too.

    -The author said that most of Christ's work was spontaneous. I agree that the best witnessing contacts and other times of ministering to people are at unexpected and unplanned times.

    -"This legitimacy comes from the same God who exalts faithfulness over productivity and availability over schedulability." (pg.130) - Success in God's eyes are often different than man's.

    Appreciated this chapter.... much self-evaluation needed.

    1. Yes, I also found it interesting that people felt cornered by a sundial!