Vocation and Living with Margin

Dear Christ Church,

It’s been so good to enjoy a few cooler mornings recently in Austin as the signs of Fall slowly start to show themselves. At the same time, even as the scorching heat begins to wane just a bit, I already miss the somewhat slower pace of summer. Like some of you, my life tends to revolve around the academic calendar. And while the added structure and routine of the school year can be nice, the busyness of university and K-12 schedules serves as a not-so-subtle reminder of how easy it is to once again get pulled into a hurried pace.

There’s excitement and energy that can accompany the transition into a new season. Maybe you’re experiencing this by visiting a new small group or simply by resuming to meet with your same group after taking a break for a few months. Others of you may be stepping into volunteer roles or just continuing to face the challenges of your job, career, or ordinary life. Whatever the case, here’s what I know: resisting an unhealthy, overly-busied pace doesn’t happen by accident, and this is as true for the church and its members as it is for anyone else.

As Christians, we are certainly called to do good work and to do it diligently. We can agree with Martin Luther King Jr. here when he says: “No work is insignificant. All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence.” This kind of labor includes parenting, studying, neighboring, building, mentoring, managing, training, homemaking, innovating, collaborating, coaching, caregiving, and much more.

But I don’t have to tell you that our society operates at a frenetic pace. The modern world has probably always been prone to busyness. And yet, technology keeps transforming our relationship to time and space, ever increasing the promise of productivity, efficiency, and accessibility. All the while, these advances do not seem to have made us entirely better off.

In her book on Sabbath, Ruth Haley Barton writes that we are “poisoned by the hypnotic belief that good things come only through unceasing determination and tireless effort.” Dallas Willard even went so far as to say that hurry is the great enemy to discipleship today!

In contrast to hurry, though, Willard speaks of how living with margin — the space between our load and our limits —enables us to become the people God intends us to be. And nowhere do we see a better model than in Jesus’s own life and public ministry.

This Labor Day weekend, let this caution against hurry be an invitation to you: to lean into both 1) rest and 2) the patient work of creating margin in your lives. May you live within your God-given limits to become who you’re intended to be.



P.S. There will be no Kids’ Quest this Sunday. Instead, we invite your elementary aged kids to join us for service where they’ll be able to enjoy a very special children’s sermon!

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