We’re approaching a new calendar year. You may have already purchased a crisp new calendar with spiral-bound pages and empty white squares. It’s tempting to start filling the blank space with upcoming events or reminders—a visual representation of your busy and full life.
For pastors and ministry leaders, this is especially true. Most of us wear many different hats in ministry, all of which require time and commitment. It’s not bad to be busy, but if we fill our schedules too full, we leave no room for spontaneous ministry and care.
Busyness without reflection or intention will undoubtedly lead to burnout. The good news about our ever-changing schedules is that God never changes. Hebrews 13:8 reminds us that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” The unchanging truth of Jesus provides safety and rest for our overworked souls.
Instead of rapidly filling up our calendars, what would it look like to preserve some space as we enter a new year? Slowing down with intention leads to contentment and makes room for realistic expectations.
Let’s consider three ways that leaving some blank space on your calendar might create more opportunities.
1. Rest your eyes and find margin.
Imagine picking up your favorite book and seeing all the margins have been deleted. Words cover every bit of the page from left to right and top to bottom. There is no space for your eyes to find rest. Wouldn’t it be difficult to read and enjoy?
Margins are important because they create space for contemplation. Filling every available inch of space is not efficient and can become counterproductive. Allow the blank spaces on your calendar to serve as a visual cue for rest. In that open time, read a beloved book or do something that brings joy—simply because you have the time. Protect your margin for rest so you can make the most of your time otherwise.
2. Reset your heart and find quiet.
Blank space affects not only our eyes but our ears as well. We’re bombarded with so much noise daily, and it stretches further than just our ears. It’s easy to over-commit, especially in work and ministry. These are good things, but in excess, they become a problem. Keeping a noisy and full schedule makes it easy to forget our true identity, which is found in Christ alone. Before you crack open that new calendar and begin writing, take some time to sit with the Lord and consider the space. Click To Tweet
In addition to our calendars, we’re also regularly targeted by advertising, billboards, podcasts, and social media algorithms. Finding empty spaces may be easy, but allowing those spaces to be quiet is difficult. It’s important to be intentional about what we consume. Jesus modeled this for us in Mark 1:35, “And rising very early in the morning, while it was dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed.” This requires effort and discipline, but its benefits are worth it.
3. Reflect on God’s Word and find clarity.
Often, our minds are crowded with so many thoughts that if someone approaches us with a simple question, we immediately respond, “I can’t even think about that right now!” When an abundance of things fills our minds, we can’t process anything thoroughly or effectively.
It’s important to spend time pondering and meditating on God’s Word. Perhaps this looks like going for a walk without headphones—just to move, think, and pray. Maybe it’s putting your phone away, closing your laptop, and sitting in silence with the Lord in your office. Our minds need time to process all that we’re doing, seeing, and hearing. Empty spaces are an opportunity to find clarity.
Scripture gives us beautiful guidance in this. An important command is given in Colossians 3:2, “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” We’re to remember this as we move through the chapter, and arrive here in verses 15–16: “And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.”Pursuing margin and rest prevents us from being stretched too thin. Click To Tweet
The word let is used twice and implies we have a role to play. For the peace of Christ to rule our hearts and for the word of Christ to dwell richly within, we must allow it to take hold of our lives.
Blank space on our calendars allows us to be available when a crisis comes and also makes room for emotional preparedness. Pursuing margin and rest prevents us from being stretched too thin. We can model this for those in our communities as an act of shepherding and leadership.
Before you crack open that new calendar and begin writing, take some time to sit with the Lord and consider the space. Allow your eyes to rest in margin, your heart to reset in quiet, and your mind to reflect on all God has for you this year.