Thursday, October 9, 2014

Setting Boundaries in Bivocational Ministry (Part 2)


In part 1 of this series, we talked about the importance of intentional boundary-setting in ministry.

Today, we’re going to explore the difference between walls and boundaries…and begin an introductory discussion on how pastors can effectively establish these boundaries (whether personal, ethical or relational).
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Let’s face it: You like being a mystery…camouflaging into an absorbed agenda…hidden behind the veil of an appointed title.

I know I do.

Granted, there are times when a desire for transparency wins me over.

But for the most part, I like the security of knowing I’m not easily decipherable. Just being honest.

Now, irony aside, you can tell I’m being conspicuous about my preference of being the exact opposite.

Yet, chances are, you’ve read this mail before and would, thus, diagnosis this as a wall-setting mindset (as opposed to a boundary-setting one).

However, not all cases are so conveniently cracked.

Why? Because it can be very challenging to discern the right ministerial boundaries, especially in an entitled era saturated with accessible information and self-centered tendencies.

But before we get too deep on the grey side (cough, social media, cough) of the issue, let’s first define the difference between a wall and a boundary.

When we talk about a boundary, we’re talking about a necessary limitation as authorized by God for us to employ. For instance, a true boundary protects us from idolatry, poor time management and relational drama…just to name a few.

And while it may be easy to think of boundaries in terms of protection, I believe they’re better considered as a means of stewardship. As the Bible clearly states (1 Corinthians 4:2, Titus 1:7-9, Matthew 25:20-21), God desires us to be faithful stewards of the time and resources He’s given us. So as ministers, it’s important to be fair and consistent in unbiased service and attention. This doesn’t mean you treat every counseling appointment as a timed therapy session or keep a ledger on every encouraging word that comes out of your mouth. Fact is: some people require more energy and love than others…and that’s okay. At any rate, when we’re plugged into God’s input, we’ll find all the help we need to enforce the right checks at the right time.

On the flip side, when we talk about a wall, we’re talking about an unnecessary blockade, often initiated by a stronghold (whether fear, anger, bitterness, guilt, etc.). Ironically, with walls, many are set up to draw (pun intended) attention…to inspire someone to come along and make an attempt to climb them (hello, manipulation); however, the problem with walls is they don’t constructively confront the issue, but rather take people further away from where God intended them to be. With this in mind, it’s not hard to see how walls are manufactured means to self-protection and, thus, not authorized by God.

So clearly, the goal is to establish boundaries (not walls) around our personal, ethical and relational commitments. Fair enough, right?

Well, not so fast, young padawan.

Doing so requires strategy, not to mention a continued posture of submission.

As mentioned in my last post, valuing boundaries starts with valuing the ways of God. And while it may be hard for people to wrap their heads around what God did on the seventh day, it’s nevertheless an imperative part of the boundary-setting process.
district_5110_foundation_stewardship‘Cause truth is: once we start to embrace rest as a key essential in our daily lives (yes, I said “daily”), only then will we want to lay boundaries out of a place of stewardship, as opposed to fear; only then, will be begin to see how removing the walls in our lives can create the space and initiate the desire to better foster what God has given us.

So as you finish off the week, I encourage you to examine the walls in your life. Ask yourself: In what places of my heart are walls set up? What inspired them…and what steps do I need to take to conquer term? Also, in what ways can my boundary-setting be more defined?

Then, after asking the Lord to break off the walls in your life…invite Him to replace them with the appropriate boundary and strategy. If you need to reconcile? Do it. If you need to forgive someone who has wronged you? Do it. If you need take a leap and go out of your way to bless another through a random act of kindness or word of encouragement? Do it.

‘Cause at the end of the day, setting boundaries is all about making God’s priorities, your priorities...about making His the heart the one you want people to see.

So here's to holy boundary-setting & cheers to the glorious journey ahead...

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