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Hey Church Leader, How's Your Margin?

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We need margin in our lives.

Dearest church leader, online pastor, or tech worker-

With all sincerity, I tell you this:

Take a break.  

It’s the only way you’re going to successfully rediscover your RHYTHM.

Don’t get snippy with me, either.  I know it’s tough right now. But your rhythm is of VITAL IMPORTANCE.

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Before I was a Digital Pastor, I was a Worship Pastor. My entire life has actually been around music.  Every member of my family is a brilliant musician, involved in church worship.

One thing that our entire family was blessed with knowing where “one” is. “One” in the case of music is the starting of a new measure or section.  We can screw up our lyrics, our strumming patterns, our drum fills, but we always could just feel how to get back into the groove.  We could feel the rhythm.  Cool Runnings-esque.

Music students are taught to not just flail around and play nonsense when they lose their rhythm, but instead to pause, rest a beat or two, and then come back in on “one.”

In music as in life, we have a tendency to live our daily lives in routines, in patterns.  In RHYTHMS. Literally everyone has them.

The Bible is also filled with them.  The entire sin-to-humility pattern in the Old Testament for Moses, all of the judges, David, Solomon, all of the kings.  Even God the Creator took the seventh day to rest in His creation and enacted it to be so.

Do you honestly think God NEEDED to rest?  Because I sure don’t.  

But, like a good Father, He is setting down a stake for how to live a life of rhythm, of ebbing and flowing, of creation and rest.  The ideal way to live, God says, is to work and rest.  

He knows we’re sinful.  So we’ll sin, and then repent. And grace abounds.  

Rhythmic.  Sin, repentance, grace.  Work, rest.

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In the last month, most of us have had our lives turned...well, what’s worse than upside-down?  Inside-out?  

My family has been tossed around.  No more typical Sunday routines. No more work for my wife.  No more school or youth group for my kids. No more track meets or baseball games or guitar lessons or hanging out at the park.  

My own rhythms of daily quiet times filled with prayer, journaling, and Scripture reading have been upended.

If you’re like me, you can’t feel the rhythm right now.  You’re breathlessly attacking a day that has nothing other than a list of mountains to climb, and your energies are becoming less and less.

Our low-level anxiety we all have right now comes from the loss of rhythm.  And it’s manifesting itself in our grocery store purchasing behavior and our fascination with Tiger King.  

And, for the Type-A Ennagram 1’s out there like me (many of you church leaders), the loss of rhythm is coming out in our work habits.  

I read Psalm 127:2 and get chills:

“It is in vain that you rise up early
and go late to rest,
eating the bread of anxious toil;
for he gives to his beloved sleep.”

“Vain? Not me!  I’m working this hard so that blah blah blah.”

Yes, I get it.  I’m vain too. And when I get out of the rhythms of prayer and rest I feel as if the world is stretching me thin, much like a Stretch Armstrong doll being pulled apart.

Raise your hand if this is one of the busiest seasons of life you've ever experienced, if you could count the hours you've spent AWAY from your computer in fractions, or if you've had meetings/calls that seem to push you further away from your mission.

Raise your hand if you’re just downright scared.

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It’s okay.  This is a safe place.

I’m with you.  I can’t feel the rhythm right now.  And that scares me.

So what do we do about that?

We need a reset.  We need to find where “one” is again.  We need to feel the music again.

Because, Biblically, what happens when the people of God reset?

Blessing comes.  God acts. Grace appears.  A new song starts.

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YOU need to reset.  To take a break. To not flail around, but to pause, wait a beat or two, and then enter the song again on “one.”  

If not for your own sake, then for the sanity of your family or your church.

Please, take today or tomorrow or one day in the next week.  Sleep in a little. Eat. Go for a walk or a run outside. Enjoy a cup of coffee.  Play with your kids. Read a stinking book.

DON’T open your laptop.  DON’T check your e-mail. DON’T think about metrics or views or totals.

Rest.  Recover.  Take a break.  Your church is going to be there when you get back.  Your scheduling of premieres, cutting of videos, answering emails, Zoom meetings, and Instagram DMs...they will all be there.

You’re going to find that your life will slowly return to “One.”  Is it going to be playing the same song as before?  

Absolutely not.

But I bet you’ll be surprised at how much you like the new song.  And I bet it sounds amazing.

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About Author

Andy Mage
Andy Mage

Andy is the Digital Pastor for Bay Hope Church, located in Tampa, FL. He was a worship pastor for 10 years before that, and can routinely be found drinking every single drop of coffee he sees. Andy lives in Odessa, FL, with his amazing wife and 3 amazing kids.

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