Boundaries are the defining line between what is me and what is not me.
Psalm 145:3 in The Message says, “God is magnificent; he can never be praised enough. There are no boundaries to his greatness.”
God is God. We are not. We need boundaries.
Personal boundaries are guidelines built through past experiences and beliefs. They are parameters or limits that we create to establish what are reasonable, safe and permissible ways for us to behave around other people and for other people to behave around us.
Personal boundaries operate in two directions:
- “Outgoing” – to protect my interaction with other people.
- “Incoming” – to protect other people’s interaction with me.
It’s important to realize and remember that our “outgoing” is someone’s “incoming.”
The following are 7 examples of Healthy Boundaries:
- Physically – I will not eat every time I am bored, tired or stressed; only when I am hungry.
- Emotionally – I can have a “moment,” but not a day, week, month or a year.
- Mentally – I will not entertain or enjoy negative thoughts.
- Sexually – I will say NO before marriage and I will say YES after marriage.
- Spiritually – If the Bible doesn’t say it, I won’t think about it, talk about it, worry about it.
- Financially – I will always tithe. I will always sow. I will spend responsibly.
- Relationally – I will lower my expectations and I will raise my tolerance.
Boundaries are absolutely essential. When we understand our God assignment, it helps us establish who belongs close and who belongs at a distance. If we wander aimlessly through our life, we are likely to wander into trouble. We need our God assignment to keep us on track. Even if you are a little lost – perhaps you have found yourself in a space or place you never intended – you can change your future.
In their book Boundaries, Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend write:
“Boundaries define us. They define what is me and what is not me. A boundary shows me where I end and someone else begins […] Knowing what I am to own and take responsibility for gives me freedom. If I know where my yard begins and ends, I am free to do with it what I like […] if I do not ‘own’ my life, my choices and options become very limited.”
The most important primary boundary line isn’t to protect our sexuality, emotions, or relationships. Our primary boundary line is to protect our heart. We don’t need to guard our relationships; we just need to guard our heart.
Proverbs 4:23 in the New Living Translation says, “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.”
In life and in ministry, we will have to deal with hurt and disappointment, and in those moments, we need healthy boundaries in our responses.
We need to guard our hearts against:
- Irreconcilable Differences
Our heart is the innermost or central part of who we are. It is our capacity for sympathy, or generosity, or compassion. Our heart is literally “love’s living room.” We need to keep our hearts from “doing hurt” and “getting hurt.” Boundaries protect the health of your heart and your relationships. It may be time to establish a boundary to create some healthy space.
Having clear boundaries is essential to a healthy heart, a healthy ministry and a healthy life.
Healthy boundaries help us choose our future.