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HOW TO SET THEM AND HOW TO KEEP THEM
Are You Ready to Set and Have Healthy Boundaries?
Is your life controlled by someone else?
Is your time monopolized by someone else?
Is your schedule dictated by someone else?
If your response is, “That’s me!”… then you need boundaries.
From sidelines to state lines, boundaries are everywhere. They provide structure and stability. Without them, we’re likely to be hurt or taken advantage of. If you are a “people-pleaser” and have trouble saying No, then you need boundaries. Sometimes we need to say No to people so we can say Yes to God. Boundaries are needed in all areas of life and they can be difficult to establish and even harder to maintain. These Keys for Living show how you can set boundaries – and keep them. Learn how to say No to people so you can say Yes to God.
We cannot be or do everything for anyone, much less everyone, so we must choose who we will be and what we will do regarding the people God brings into our lives. Jesus established boundaries for His relationships by prioritizing the Father… discipling the Twelve… and being intimate with the few. He also set boundaries on His actions…
Do You Have Boundaries?
Is your life controlled by someone else? Is your schedule dictated by someone else? Do you say yes to everyone and no to no one? Do you find yourself easily taken advantage of? Are you feeling stretched beyond your limits? Are you meeting yourself coming and going?
Are you overcommitted, in over your head, always burning the candle at both ends? Do you try to be everything to everyone? Is your life swallowed up by someone else’s life? If your response is, “That’s me!” ... then you need boundaries!
It may be increasingly obvious that you need to know where your responsibilities end and someone else’s begin. You need to say yes to God and no to everything that’s not His will. Yes, you need ... boundaries!
Like nations, relationships rise and fall based on the security of the boundaries that guard and protect them. If we try to be everyone’s best friend, we will be no one’s best friend. We all have limits on our time and on our emotional and physical energy.
We cannot be or do everything for anyone, much less everyone. We must choose who we will be and what we will do regarding the people God brings into our lives. Jesus established boundaries for His relationships by prioritizing the Father ... discipling the Twelve ... and being intimate with the few. He also set boundaries on His actions. ...
“Jesus gave them this answer: ‘Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. ... By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me.’”
(John 5:19, 30)
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Types of Boundaries
- Physical Boundaries - are territorial lines that divide one area from another. (Genesis 2:16–17)
- Moral Boundaries - are ethical lines that divide right from wrong. (Genesis 3:17)
- Personal Boundaries - are lines that separate one person from another. They are the healthy by-product of realizing we are uniquely separate from one another and personally responsible for our own attitudes and actions. (Proverbs 4:23)
- Relational Boundaries - enable you to stand up for yourself and speak your mind appropriately, feel comfortable in giving honest feedback to others, and be firm with others in a loving and gentle way. (Luke 6:31)
- Emotional and Mental Boundaries - according to relationship experts Henry Cloud and John Townsend, equip you to evaluate your emotions in light of God’s Word, guard against letting emotions rule you by focusing your mind on God’s thoughts, and allow you to communicate your thoughts in a Christlike way. (2 Corinthians 10:5)
- Moral and Ethical Boundaries - teach you to know the difference between right and wrong, live a life of moral integrity, discern the true character of a person, and evaluate the right way to think and act toward others. (Genesis 4:7)
- Sexual Boundaries - authorize you to determine whether or not you will allow a person to touch you sexually, determine areas of appropriate sexual expression, determine personal purity that preserves sexual activity for marriage, determine the parameters you will place on your thought life, and determine what you will allow yourself to watch, listen to, and participate in that is of a sexual nature. (1 Thessalonians 4:3–4)
Questions and Answers
Question: “How do forgiveness and enablement relate to boundaries?”
Forgiveness is not enablement. If a man borrows money from you and later refuses to repay you, you should still forgive him. Release both him and the offense to God so that you do not become bitter. You should not enter into another monetary relationship with him. That is where it becomes a boundary issue.
Enabling means you allow others to continue in their bad behavior by either not establishing a boundary or by not enforcing repercussions when they violate a boundary you have established.
If you say yes to irresponsible people when you should put up boundaries and say no, you are actually trying to please people instead of God. The apostle Paul counters that error in thinking by declaring ...
“We are not trying to please people but God, who tests our hearts.”
(1 Thessalonians 2:4)
Question: “What are legitimate boundaries?”
Generally, good boundaries...
- Define our individual separateness and protect the treasure— potential, unique personality, abilities, and spiritual gifts—that God has entrusted to us
- Enhance and encourage the development of Christlike character within us through mutually respectful relationships
- Prevent us from establishing bad boundaries that shut out meaningful interaction with others
- Build walls, which at the same time contain doors, allowing us to have safe interaction with others
“The highway of the upright avoids evil; those who guard their ways preserve their lives.”
How to Set Good Boundaries
The best way to start the boundary-setting process is by reading God’s Word and praying. These are two vital, spiritual components for determining how to live a life that is both pleasing to God and fulfilling for you. You must lay a solid and steadfast foundation, and that foundation is the Word of God.
Another important step is consulting with several people who have firmly established, biblical boundaries. Glean some sound advice from them as to where you should start. Be sure to...
Pray for the Lord to reveal to you your need and how to move forward.
Pinpoint where your boundaries are weak.
Partner with someone who will hold you accountable.
Prepare to see changes in your relationships with others.
Permit yourself small rewards along the way. Boundary building is hard work!
Provide a support system of friends and family for strength in the potential “danger zones” that can trigger old responses.
Prioritize the people or areas that you want to set boundaries for—don’t try to tackle all of them at one time.
As you commit your plans and efforts to God and begin the process of working with your accountability partner, remember...
“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor.”
How to Keep Boundaries in Place
- Pay attention to your feelings and watch for early warning signs that your boundaries are being broken. (Philippians 4:13)
- Remind yourself why you set the boundary.
- Remember, repercussions exist because difficult people choose to violate the boundaries.
- Rehearse what the Word of God says.
- Plan ahead by role playing with a friend or even by yourself in front of a mirror on how to say no. (Galatians 5:23) Begin with situations where saying no has less impact; for example, saying no to a telemarketer.
- Be aware of how you feel after hanging up. Thank God that your boundaries are good.
- Believe that enforcing your boundaries will get easier as you exercise self-control and maintain your boundaries.
- Recognize that feelings of guilt are false guilt. It is healthy to establish and maintain boundaries. (Hebrews 10:36)
- Appreciate the importance of consistency with your boundaries by helping others honor them.
- Apply repercussions when they are violated.
- Always remember the end goal as you persevere.
- Rejoice as you continue to keep your personal boundaries and find yourself set free! (1 Corinthians 16:13)
- Trust that God will give you strength.
- Think about the other people in your life and honor their boundaries.
- Thank God that He sacrificed Jesus for
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Key Verse to Learn
“For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.”
(2 Timothy 1:7)
Key Passage to Read