Margin for Mission
Like so many people I meet, you might be saying, “I want to get better at mission, but I don’t feel like I have any margin in my life.” If that's you, you might be helped by thinking about mission as “three ways of making room for God to come in.” Many people who already are operating with little to no margin in their lives hear the call to be on mission as added homework.
But moving out on mission is often less about doing more, and more about doing it differently, doing it with different people, or doing it in a different place. While mission will ultimately always require sacrifice, from another perspective going on mission in your surrounding community requires simply asking questions of geography and affinity—where do you live and what do you love? Or, in other words, who has God placed in front of you and what are you passionate about? Embracing mission requires being willing to be increasingly led by God out of a selfishly introspective approach towards day-to-day life, and into greater and greater mindfulness of both God and others—increased sensitivity, increased intention, and increased kindness.
Think about mission as making room for God to come in. (1) Simplified living must often come before (2) sensitivity to the Spirit, and (3) strategic boldness.
Furthermore, most of us embrace the general principle that saying yes to what is important always requires saying no to something else, but we often fail to apply this principle to our pursuit of the mission of God. How might God be calling us to simplify our lives, to create margin, to leave space on the page? Before we can (1) be missionally sensitive to the Spirit, and before we can (2) be boldly strategic in our pursuit of the lost, we may need to first fight to (3) live simpler lives. God is already on mission where we live, work, and play. But we are often in too much of a hurry, and too focused on ourselves, to notice God's invitations to join him in pursuing people with whom we interact every day, every week, or every month.
Mission begins for us here in this time and place with margin. Mission begins with margin. Not boldness, or zeal, or a passion for souls, but margin. Space. Labor that emerges from a place of rest. Obedience that is sustained by the experience of Jesus’ easy yoke. Margin. Rest. Sabbath rest. One day in seven with no have-to’s. Do you have that in your life? It doesn’t just come. It’s something you wrestle to the ground by faith. It’s counter-intuitive. It’s counter-cultural. It’s a kind of rest that is only entered into through the door marked "grace-fueled effort."
Margin means letting Christ be king not only of our words, actions, thoughts, and checkbooks, but also letting Christ be king of our calendars.
As we begin to ruthlessly simplify our lives and weed out hurry, we will find that we have an increasing amount of energy for strategic boldness and we’ll find ourselves increasingly sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s still, small voice saying, This is the way, walk in it (Isa 30:21). Saying, Go over and join this chariot (Acts 8:29). Saying, Go to a street called Straight (Acts 9:11). What does strategic boldness look like? It looks like Paul saying, ...to the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews... (1 Cor 9:19–23).
Margin means cutting things out of our calendars until there’s space to invite our neighbors over for dinner, or at least until we are no longer rushing by the man lying by the side of the road. Margin means letting Christ be king not only of our words, actions, thoughts, and checkbooks, but also letting Christ be king of our calendars.
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