Simple Summary of the Book Margin
Margin is the space between our limits as human beings and the expectations placed upon us by society, by ourselves and even by technological progress. Dr. Swenson describes margin as ’the space between our load and our limits”.
Lack of margin has us focusing on the immediate and causes us to neglect our spiritual, social and emotional growth. “Our wallets will get fatter, our houses bigger, our cars faster, and our brains smarter. Yet when we neglect the most important priorities, our reward will fittingly be all the unhappiness money can buy.”
Lack of margin is built into the environment at most companies. When I left Procter & Gamble, my weekly schedule had an average of 30+ hours of scheduled meetings. Most of these meetings had little to do with the work I was expected to accomplish. Attending all of these meetings, trying to make progress on my projects coupled with raising four young children left essentially no room for margin in my life. Gaining control of my schedule by becoming self employed is one of the best things I have ever done to create margin in my life.
Structure of the Book Margin
The book is split into three parts. What the problem is, what the prescription is and the health that results by following the prescription.
The problem, Dr. Swenson argues, is that progress is moving ahead at a speed that we are no longer able to keep up with. If we don’t create sufficient margin in our lives, this progress creates more and more problems. The problems then create more stress in our lives and in trying to deal with this added stress, we add more and more activities which result in overload in our lives.
The prescription for this is margin. In the second part of the book, Dr. Swenson provides some advice on to regain margin in our emotional energy, physical energy, time and finances. Some of the advice given is practical in nature. As the book progresses, the advice becomes increasingly scripture based.
In the final part of the book, Dr Swenson describes the benefits of having regained this margin. The benefits through contentment, simplicity, balance, and rest. At this point in the book the benefits and rewards are almost entirely based in scripture.
Opinion of the Book Margin
I found the book to be a good reminder that we have to take time to reflect on what is important in our lives and structure our days to that end. We need to live within our means both financially and emotionally. If you are looking for a book with practical tips for getting your life in balance, this is not the book for you. If you are looking for a stronger tie between your daily activities and God and scripture, this book is written for that purpose.
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