Schedule a Buffer for Yourself

I'm guessing many of you have no white space in your appointment books. It’s absolutely crammed with appointments and reminders and tasks. You’ve left no margin in your life, no place for rest, and I think God would say, “This is not good!”

The truth is, you can’t hope for space in your schedule or pray for space in your schedule or expect somebody else to provide space in your schedule. If you’re going to free up some space for yourself, if you’re going to allow some down time and build some buffer zones into your life, you’re going to have to make the decision to do so. No one else will do it for you.

This means actually leaving some empty spaces in your planner – a pretty scary thought to some of us. But the result is that your Palm Pilot won’t reveal the word “Overload” every time you open it up.

Here’s a fact about life: The faster you go, the more margin you need. If you’re going 70 miles per hour down the freeway, you want more than three inches between you and the other car, don’t you? It’s no different in life. Most of us in ministry have lives that are filled to the brim with activity. You start your day running and it only gets crazier as the day goes on. Since you’re going so fast, you need margin all the more. You need to build that margin into your day.

Why do we find ourselves having to work all the time? The Bible tells us very clearly that if we don't allow space into our schedule, if we just work all the time, we’re foolish. Ecclesiastes 10:15 says, “Only someone too stupid to find his way home would wear himself out with work.”

Don’t you like the Bible? It cuts straight to the point. It’s deals very bluntly and honestly with our struggles.

It reminds me of the guy who comes home with a big pile of work he needs to finish. His little kindergarten daughter looks at the pile and asks him why he’s working so hard and why he always has to bring work home. The father looks at her and says, “The problem is, I just don’t get it all finished at work so I need to bring it home and get it done here.”

The daughter looks up at him and says, “Daddy, I think they should put you in the slower group.”

Why is it we have to feel so important that we have to keep every moment of every day busy? Why do we stress load everything? Why do we have the mindset that everything has to be done right now, and wherever we’re going, we have to get there quickly? The truth is - life is not a race; it’s a journey.

If I really want to last in life, I’ve got to stop and realize there’s a whole journey of life to live. I’ve got to remember it’s not how fast I live that’s important; it’s how well I live.

Pastor, some of us just need someone to give us permission to slow down. Why not consider this your permission?


Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., one of America's largest and best-known churches. In addition, Rick is author of the New York Times bestseller The Purpose-Driven Life and The Purpose-Driven Church, which was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th Century. He is also founder of, a global Internet community for ministers. Copyright 2005, Inc. Used with permission. All rights reserved.