I want to ask you a question. How much can you afford to give?
Last week I told you about my experience shopping for a car for my niece. I want to pick where I left off and share some more insight on why having a walk away point is important.
So I had found a reliable car that I trusted. I had verified its performance by taking it for a test drive. Now came the fun part-the price negotiations (said no one ever). I walked into the car dealership knowing the maximum amount I was wiling to pay. This was my literal walk away point, and I went into the negotiations with this in mind. But ultimately the salesperson was not willing to accommodate my price. So I thanked him for his time, collected my purse, got up, left his office, and walked out of the dealership. Yep, I walked away.
I’ll tell you what I didn’t tell the salesperson. Could I have scrapped my walk away price and offered more? Yes. But at what expense? I had other financial priorities, other goals I was working to achieve, other things I was saving for, and an emergency fund I wanted to keep in tact. I wanted the car, but I didn’t have an unlimited amount of money to allocate to it. While I had more to give, but I couldn’t afford to offer more.
So what does this have to do with life? We all have a diverse portfolio of relationships, responsibilities, and goals we are managing. We hear so much about giving 1000% to everything we have a hand in and it is easy to think that is what’s required. I wholeheartedly believe we should operate in diligence, discipline, and excellence. But I also believe we should operate in wisdom. If you give all that you have to any one thing, you are depleted and have nothing to offer to anything or anyone else. I would suggest rather giving 1000% to everything, a better goal is to invest appropriately in everything.
A friend told me of time when she was at celebration at work. A project that she had worked on had come to a close and the C-suite executive who oversaw the department hosted an awards ceremony to thank everyone that contributed to the success of the project. As the executive acknowledged and appreciated the team for their efforts and outstanding results, he said something that shocked her. He said, “you’ve all gone above and beyond and we are forever grateful to you for that. As you journey through your career, I want to share something with you that I hope you will take to heart. This company will take everything you give. But please don’t give all that you have.” This corporate leader was telling his entire to be careful that you don’t succeed in business at the expense of your family, your health, or other priorities. I imagine he might have been speaking from experience.
One of the most important investment you can make is in yourself. When you are budgeting your time, make sure you include a line item for YOU. This is what I call the ME MARGIN.
Jesus created margin for himself. He did not do it all. And if anyone could have successfully done it all, it was Jesus. But He often got away from the crowd and withdrew to lonely places to pray, to refresh, to refuel, and to synch up with God. He delegated. He sent out the 12, and later the 72, to preach, heal, and deliver. And He did not try meet the expectations of His friends, His followers, or His critics. Very often His actions, or lack thereof, confused and angered others. Sometimes He came quickly and gave freely. Other times he seemingly waited too long and withheld too much. But Jesus always stewarded His purpose, gifts, relationships, time, and energy with thoughtfulness and intentionality.
Hold up!? The Messiah didn’t have a Messiah complex? Then why should I?
Friends, I am learning to walk away from the common definitions of what “good”, “dedicated”, and “successful” look like. I am even learning to walk away from my expectations of myself where these labels are concerns. And day by day, I am learning to trust God to complete the work He started in me and do through me what I could never do only own.
And when I do that I shift my expectations of perfection from me to God, where they belong, and it is absolutely liberating.
I hope this encourages and challenges you.
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Living In The Light,