Book Reviews: Margin and Balance

August 11, 2012 by Paul Chappell

In the past year and a half I have read two excellent books by Dr. Richard Swenson—Margin: Restoring Emotional, Physical, Financial, and Time Reserves to Overloaded Lives and In Search of Balance: Keys to a Stable Life.

As Swenson defines margin, it “the space between our load and our limits.” Sometimes I tend to make that space non-existent, but I’m learning to value it, and the book Margin helped me in this area tremendously.

I first read this book in early 2011 when I took some medical rest and leave. It was obvious to me at that time that something in my schedule had to give, and Margin helped me gain understanding of why and how I had reached such depletion.

In Margin, Dr. Swenson points to overload and productivity idolatry as the culprit for our chronically exhausted pace of life. He explains that we have emotional, physical, financial, and time limits—and unless we know where those limits are and respect them, we will be in a constant deficit. A deficit which cannot be sustained indefinitely.

Throughout the book, and particularly in the middle section, the author shares practical, helpful “prescriptions” for overcoming overload and rebuilding margin into your life.

Because Margin had been such a help to me, I was eager to read Dr. Swenson’s next book, In Search of Balance. I read it through just a couple of weeks ago while waiting at the airport for a delayed flight.

I wasn’t disappointed. Balance was every much as helpful as Margin had been several months previous. It was both helpful and convicting! I particularly appreciated the thoughts in Balance on how to best use margin. Margin is not an end it itself, but a means to a life of greater usefulness for the Lord.

I especially liked this quote in Balance as it discussed the relationship of margin and balance: “Margin, rightly conceived, is not about laziness, mediocrity, and noninvolvement. It is about focus, discipline, and self-control. But mostly it is a prioritizing space where we concentrate on the things that matter most.”

Both of these books would be valuable to any Christian who is surrendered to Christ and who desires to live to fulfill God’s purpose for their life!


1 Comment »

  1. Thank you for the reviews. I will most likely purchase these as e-books if available and read them on my iPad. As God has recently given me more time to serve Him, I wish to be a faithful Steward of that time utilize “margin” in thi stewardship.

    Comment by Tim Rosen — August 11, 2012 @ 11:19 pm

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