Mikestrathdee’s Blog


Called to be a Slacker?
January 1, 2009, 5:38 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Republished in Christian Week, march 18, 2005

Called to be a slacker?

Mike Strathdee
mstrathdee@mennofoundation.ca

Increasingly, I am convinced that God is calling us to be a people who live below our means as much as possible. If we live below our means, we have the freedom and capacity to respond to the Holy Spirit’s leading to give money or time to needs of which we become aware.

The temptation to live without regard to limits is all around us. Our available options for how to spend time and money far outstrip our reserves. On average, we as North Americans spend 108 per cent of our income. However, our fiscal overdraft pales in comparison to the overscheduled, frenzied pace of our chaotic existence. We are a people who fail to cut ourselves enough slack, reserve time, space or energy for reflection, rejuvenation and careful response. We don’t dare to talk about the need for slack. “Slacker” is an insult hurled at someone who is viewed as not working hard enough.

Being available to God, to others and to ourselves is difficult if we have no margin in our lives. Richard A. Swenson writes, “Many people commit to a 120 per cent life and wonder why the burden feels so heavy. It is rare to see a life prescheduled to only 80 per cent, leaving a margin for responding to the unexpected God sends our way.”

Swenson outlines the need for margin in four areas—emotional energy, physical energy, time and finances, in a book that provides valuable perspective on this subject (Margin—Restoring Emotional, Physical and Time Reserves to Overloaded Lives, NavPress, 2004).

Having a life with margin requires learning to say “No” more often. Bill Allison believes Christians need to learn to say “no” to obvious time stealers, and even to good things, so that we leave room for the best (Time Management for Painfully Pooped-out People: Ten Biblical Principles for Taking Control of Your Life and Time, Cadre Ministries, 2001).

Jesus had constant demands on His time—speaking, traveling and healing. His time on Earth was short and He knew He needed to prioritize. Jesus knew how and when to say “no” for rest, fellowship and prayer. The model our Lord provided is as valid in the age of 24/7 and information overload as it was 2,000 years ago.

Allison suggests we need to be intentional about planning, reflection and prioritizing relationships, as Jesus was. Swenson’s prescription for margin includes contentment, simplicity, balance and rest. Implementing these basic prescriptions is anything but simple. Still, it’s time for Christians to talk more about these issues, and about honouring ways that leave slack or margin in our lives.

Mike Strathde, CFP, is a stewardship consultant in the Kitchener, Ontario office of Mennonite Foundation of Canada. This article first appeared in the “Foundation Info” newsletter, February 2005.

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