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Summary: A message dealing with all the loose ends of life that tend to zap our energy, leaving nothing behind for revival. What can you do to change it?

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Title: Closing the Loose Ends of Your Life: Preparation for Revival: 08/31/03

West Side

A.M. Service

Text: Matthew 8:18 and 19:16-22 Labor Day

Purpose: A sermon of preparation for revival, as well as a message dealing the all the loose ends of life that tend to zap our energy, leaving nothing behind for revival. What can you do to change it?

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Introduction:

1. Richard A. Swenson, M.D. writes in “Margins,” “The conditions of modern-day living devour margin. If you are homeless, we direct you to a shelter. If you are penniless, we offer you food stamps. If you are breathless, we connect the oxygen. But if you are marginless, we give you yet one more thing to do.

a. Marginless is being 30 minutes late to the doctor’s office because you were 20 minutes late getting out of the hairdresser’s because you were 10 minutes late dropping the children off at school because the car ran out of gas two blocks from the gas station- and you forgot your purse.

Margin, on the other hand, is having breath left at the top of the staircase, money left at the end of the month, and sanity left at the end of adolescence.

b. Marginless is the baby crying and the phone ringing at the same time; Margin is Grandma taking the baby for the afternoon.

c. Marginless is being asked to carry a load five pounds heavier than you can lift; margin is a friend to carry half the burden.

d. Marginless is not having time to finish the book you’re reading on stress; margin is having the time to read it twice.

e. Marginless is fatigue; margin is energy1

Work No Longer Has Clear Boundaries (David Allen begins when writing in "Getting Things Done)

“A major factor in the mounting stress level is that the actual nature of our jobs has changed much more dramatically and rapidly than have our training for and our ability to deal with work. In just the last half of the 20th century, what constituted ‘work’ in the industrialized world was transformed from assembly-line, make-it and move-it kinds of activity to what Peter Drucker has so aptly termed ‘knowledge work.’

In the old days, work was self evident. Fields were to be plowed, machines tooled, boxes packed, cows milked, widgets cranked. You knew what work had to be done- you could see it. It was clear when the work was finished, or not finished.

Now for many of us, there are no edges to most of our projects. Most people I know have at least half a dozen things they’re trying to achieve right now, and even if they had the rest of their lives to try, they wouldn’t be able to finish these to perfection. You’re probably faced with the same dilemma.

a. How good could that conference potentially be?

b. How effective could the training program be?

c. How inspiring is the essay your writing?

d. How motivating the staff meeting?

e. How much available data could be relevant to doing those projects “better”? The answer is, an infinite amount, easily accessible, or at least potentially so, through the web.

On the other front, the lack of edges can create more work for everyone.2

Allen continues: “Little seems clear for very long anymore, as far as what our work is and what or how much input may be relevant to doing it well. We’re allowing in huge amounts of information and communication from the outer world generating an equally large volume of ideas and agreements with ourselves and others from our inner world. And we haven’t been well equipped to deal with this huge number of internal and external commitments.3

“You’ve probably made many more agreements with yourself than you realize, and every single one of them- big or little- is being tracked by a less-than-conscious part of you. These are the ‘incompletes,’ or ‘open loops,’ which [is defined by] anything pulling at your attention that doesn’t belong where it is, the way it is.

Open loops can include everything from really big to do items like, ‘End world hunger,’ to the more modest ‘hire a new assistant’ to the tiniest task such as ‘replace the pencil sharpener.’”4

The vast majority of people have been trying to get organized by rearranging incomplete lists of unclear things; they haven’t yet realized how much and what they need to organize in order to get the real payoff.5

Many of the things you have to do are being collected for you as you read this. Mail is coming into your mailbox, memos are begin routed to your in-basket, e-mail is being funneled into your computer, and messages are accumulating on your voice-mail. But at the same time, you’ve been collecting things in your environment and in your psyche that don’t belong where they re, the way they are, for all eternity. For example, a loop to be closed, something has to be done. Strategy ideas loitering on a legal pad in a stack on your credenza, ‘dead’ gadgets in your desk drawers that need to be fixed or thrown away, and out of date magazines on your coffee table all fall into this category of stuff.

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