Skip to content

Creating Margin in Your Life

October 23, 2009

An article by Rick Warren and Tom Holladay, both of Saddleback Church, talks about the need for margin in our lives. 


We understand margins are the white space on a piece of paper.  In life, margin is the space between your load and your limit. Hopefully your load is not heavier than your limits. But the truth is that most of us are far more overloaded than we can handle, and there is no margin for error in our lives.

 The article quotes Dr. Richard Swenson: 

The conditions of modern day living devour margin. If you’re homeless we direct you to a shelter. If you’re penniless we offer you food stamps. If you’re breathless we connect you to oxygen. But if you’re marginless we give you one more thing to do. Marginless is being 30 minutes late to the doctor’s office because you were 20 minutes late getting out of the hairdresser because you were 10 minutes late dropping the children off at school because the car ran out of gas two blocks from a gas station and you forgot your purse. That’s marginless.

“Margin, on the other hand, is having breath at the top of the staircase, money at the end of the month, and sanity left over at the end of adolescence. Margin is grandma taking the baby for the afternoon. Margin is having a friend help carry the burden. Marginless is not having time to finish the book you’re reading on stress. Margin is having the time to read it twice. Marginless is our culture. Margin is counter-culture, having some space in your life and schedule. Marginless is the disease of our decade and margin is the cure.


Warren and Holladay give four immediate benefits to building margin into your life: 

  • Peace of mind
  • Better health
  • Stronger relationships
  • Usefulness in ministry

Too much stress pushes our button to cause us to want to act out.  When we get overloaded, we want to escape back that those old behaviors we have used for so long.  Acting out, escaping, and medicating with are unhealthy ways to deal with stress. 

 A healthy way to work on your recovery is to slow down.  Create gaps.  Push the pause button.  Create the margin you need that will help you get healthy. 


Marsha and have been on a 2-year break from ministry to work on our marriage and recovery.  A big theme for us was to “simplify” our lives.  We had to cut everything out of our lives that was destructive and would impede our recovery.  This included opportunities to serve our church, be a part of community organizations, and get our kids into sports.  It’s just not the time for these things.  An evening or weekend freed up is like gold to us!


We’d love to hear what you think or what has worked for you. 

We’d love to hear your story and be an encouragement.  Leave a blog comment, or email us privately at







Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: